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The IPI Awards: AL Cy Young Award

The IPI Awards: AL Cy Young Award
October 8, 2012
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To celebrate the conclusion of another baseball season, we here at Indians Prospect Insider have decided to give out our picks for the major awards. In the coming days, IPI will be rolling out our picks for AL/NL MVP, NL Cy Young Award, Most Valuable Indian, and Least Valuable Indian.

Previous awards: AL Rookie of the Year, NL Rookie of the Year

IPI writers Charlie Adams, Jeff Ellis, Tony Lastoria, Sean Mahon, Adam McGavin, Stephanie Metzger, Steve Orbanek, Jim Pete, Andrew Zajac, and yours truly all voted on these awards. Not all of them supplied write-ups, but those who did are listed below.

In 2011, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander submitted a season for the ages, one that netted him both the Cy Young award and the MVP. One would figure if Verlander pitched at the same level in 2012 as he did in 2011, he would be a shoo-in to repeat.

A funny thing happened along the way, however. Verlander posted very comparable numbers this season (2012: 2.64 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 3.31 xFIP, 9.03 SO/9, 2.27 BB/9, 238.1 IP, 6.8 fWAR; 2011: 2.40 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, 8.96 SO/9, 2.04 BB/9, 251.0 IP, 7.0 fWAR) but is in a dogfight for the AL Cy Young Award.

One reason Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price is a favorite for the Cy Young is his 20-5 record, three wins better than Verlander's 17-8 mark. Price's 20 wins tied him for first place in the American League and he finished with a 2.56 ERA, the best among qualified starters in the AL.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Jered Weaver (20-5, 2.81 ERA, 3.75 FIP) and Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (13-9, 3.06 ERA, 2.84 FIP, one perfect game) both have arguments as well, making this award race fairly wide open. One could also argue for Rays closer Fernando Rodney (0.60 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 48 saves in 74.2 innings) if you value his utter dominance despite his lower inning total.

IPI's AL Cy Young Award winner is... Justin Verlander

Among the 10 voters, Verlander picked up six votes, with Price garnering three and Hernandez only managing one. Any of the three are worthy choices, but in IPI's view, Verlander remains the most dominant pitcher in the American League.

Here is what the rest of IPI has to say:

Charlie Adams: Despite Felix Hernandez's incredible run of games, punctuated by a perfecto, Verlander was better over the long haul and did so with the second-worst defense in the Majors. Seattle's was in the top-5 and helped out Felix regularly. Verlander pitched 5% more innings (the equivalent of 2 more starts), had more strikeouts, and a better K/9. He and Felix are in a class by themselves, but Verlander should get the nod.

Jeff Ellis: I wonder if you asked the Tigers who they would keep, Verlander or Miggy, who they would choose; I think there is a very good chance they would rather have Verlander. Last year he won the Cy Young and MVP and his numbers were all basically the same this year except in wins. This makes me wonder if in general wins are still hugely overvalued as a pitching stat or if this is a bit of a case of award fatigue for Verlander.

Tony Lastoria: David Price and Jered Weaver won more games, but when looking at all the numbers, Verlander was once again the better pitcher. Plus, he is in the playoffs and they are not. Verlander’s season was not as memorable as last season when he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, but it was still pretty damn good. He led the league in innings pitched (238.1) and strikeouts (239), was 2nd in WHIP (1.06) and ERA (2.64), and was 4th in wins (17). Price could win the award - and would be deserving of it - but I really believe that Verlander slightly outperformed him this season and the fact he is in the playoffs will be the separator.

Sean Mahon: David Price is tied for the league lead in wins and took the ERA crown. While his fellow candidates may possess better peripheral numbers, Price got it done for a contender all season long and really put it together. Pretty amazing for a Vanderbilt product that nearly quit the game after high school. Teammate Fernando Rodney is an incredibly close second with the lowest ERA (0.60 ERA), just a tick lower than Dennis Eckersley's 1990 0.61 ERA.  How did a 35 year old reliever with a career ERA of nearly 4.00 and a WHIP almost touching 1.40 save 48 games with the lowest reliever ERA of all-time and a 0.78 WHIP? We may never know.

Adam McGavin:  King Felix gets the nod for AL Cy Young, not from splitting statistical hairs, but by using the eye test. The Seattle ace was the best this season because he was the most dominant, as evidenced by his league-leading five shutouts, including baseball’s 23rd perfect game on August 15th. His 13 homers allowed are the lowest of any Cy Young contender, including the ERA winner, David Price, and the strikeout title winner Justin Verlander. Another intriguing candidate is Jered Weaver, who recorded the lowest average against (.214) and WHIP (1.02), while winning 20 games. Because the top five nominees are so close in so many key statistical areas, a selection favoring a couple stats over several others is subjective; so, when all else fails, go with the guy who appeared the most dominant against opposing hitters, and that is
Felix Hernandez.

Steve Orbanek: A lot will argue that that David Price deserves the award, but I'd give the nod to Justin Verlander. Verlander's WAR was more than a whole win better than Price's. Plus, Verlander led the American League in strikeouts. It may be unlikely that Verlander will get the award in back-to-back years, but he's more than deserving.

Jim Pete: Justin Verlander...and it's not even close. The guy is a horse...and if his team could defend...he'd have 20 wins again. He's the best starting pitcher in baseball...period.  I don't think he'll win the real award, and have my doubts that he'll win the IPI award because I think David Price and Jared Weaver are going to get all the press for their 20-win seasons, as both went 20-5. I just don't buy it. Verlander led the league (for the third time in four years) in innings with 238 1/3 (Weaver-188 2/3, Price-211), in K's (for the third time in four years) with 239 (Weaver-142, Price 205), and complete games with six (Weaver had 3, and Price had 2). Price led the league in wins (tied with Weaver) and ERA, but Verlander was second with a 2.64 (Weaver was third with a 2.81). Weaver only had wins. There is no better pitcher than Verlander...in either league.

Coming tomorrow: The NL Cy Young Award. This award is similar to its counterpart in the American League in that there are numerous contenders - Gio Gonzalez, R.A. Dickey, Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman - all separated by a thin margin. Come back tomorrow to IPI to see which NL pitcher takes home the hardware.

If you want to follow Jim Piascik, he’s @DarkestDiamond. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@kent.edu

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

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