Today, a pair of Dodgers were named finalists for the National League Cy Young Award.
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke were two of the three finalists for the award, which goes to the best pitcher in the league as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The third finalist is Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta.
This shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise, as all three pitchers would probably win the Cy Young in any other year. It’s an impossible decision to make as each of them put up historic numbers in 2015.
Zack Greinke was great from his first start. His ERA was never above 2.00 after any of his 32 starts this year. He finished the season with a 19-3 record and a 1.66 ERA, the lowest in the NL since Greg Maddux in 1995 (1.63). Greinke was about as consistent as possible, recording a quality start in 30 of his 32 starts. He allowed more than one run in only 11 of his 32 starts and while his ERA is really the only stat that stands out from the others, Greinke should probably be the favorite for the award. He received the award for Most Outstanding Pitcher at last nights’ Players Choice Awards, which was voted on by his peers rather than by the BBWAA.
Sep 29, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) celebrates after the win against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kershaw struck out 301 batters this year. Before the season, SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee wondered if baseball would ever see a 300 strikeout pitcher again. Kershaw did it in 33 starts this year. His ERA was actually the highest it’s been since 2012 (2.13), but Kershaw posted a 1.99 FIP and arguably had a better season than he had last year, when he won the Cy Young and MVP in the NL. Kershaw hurt his chances with a slow/unlucky start, depending on if you believe in advanced metrics (which you probably know I do). His ERA nine starts into the season was above 4.00, prompting many media outlets to question whether it was “the beginning of the end” for Kershaw. Instead, Kershaw just became the first pitcher to finish in the top-3 in Cy Young voting for five consecutive years.
Arrieta put together a tremendous second half, won 22 games (which means more than it should to the BBWAA) and had one of the most dominant starts of the season against the Dodgers. He’s a very deserving candidate, but it’s not because of his wins. A case could be made for any of these three pitchers and it’s mind blowing that one of them will finish in third in Cy Young voting.
Kershaw also apparently didn’t start a trend last year, as the MVP will go back to a position player. Bryce Harper, Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt are the MVP finalists, and while Votto and Goldy are tremendous, I will go on hunger strike if Harper doesn’t win.
If I had to handicap it, I would probably give the award to Greinke. The last time a player won 22 or more games was like four years ago (Justin Verlander won 24 in 2011). That happens. Pitchers haven’t really sniffed 300 strikeouts or a 1.66 ERA in recent years, and those are much more about the pitcher than they are about the team.
The winner will be announced Wednesday, November 18.