My Vote for National League Cy Young

This is the third in a series of four blog posts that I plan to type up between now and Friday; all of which will focus on who I feel should win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player (MVP), Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY). (If you haven’t read my posts on who I think should win the AL MVP, NL MVP and AL Cy Young, go ahead and check those out now.)

If you’ll remember back to my post on American League Cy Young, I tend to rely purely on stats when making a pick for which player most deserves the Cy Young award. In fact, there were SO many good candidates for National League Cy Young that I ended up letting the stats make the decision for me.

I took the National League starting pitchers with ERA’s below 3.00 (seven pitchers in all) and compared them from 20 different statistical angles. (I chose to use so many different stats to compare them because I felt that using Wins, ERA and strikeouts alone didn’t tell the whole story of how good a particular pitcher was.)

My method works as follows: The pitcher with the best numbers in a given category receives 1 point; with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., place pitchers receiving the corresponding point amount. (The occurence of a tie in a particular category results in the tied players receiving the same point amount.) In the end, the pitcher with the lowest combined total would be my pick for the Cy Young award.

It took me awhile to crunch all of the numbers, but once I finally finished, this was the result:

(I realize it’s a bit blurry. You can click it for a clearer look.)

For those of you that still can’t read the chart (even after clicking on it) here are the results of the comparison:

Clayton Kershaw: 1st place-with a total of 61.

R.A. Dickey: 2nd place-with a total of 69.

Matt Cain: 3rd place-with a total of 72.

Gio Gonzalez: 4th place-with a total of 77.

Kyle Lohse: 5th place-with a total of 82.

Johnny Cueto: 6th place-with at total of 84.

Jordan Zimmermann: 7th place-with a total of 91.

As you can see, Clayton Kershaw came out on top, thus making him the statistical winner (and my pick) for the 2012 National League Cy Young award. (This would make his second straight Cy Young; as he won it in 2011.)

Though Kershaw’s record of 14-9 would argue against it, he had an outstanding year; leading all of MLB starting pitchers in ERA. While we’re on the subject of the win-loss record: I feel it can be a bit misleading.

Though 15 other National League pitchers had more wins than Kershaw (with Gio Gonzalez recording 21) the win-loss record is one of those stats that’s out of the pitcher’s hands for the most part. As the pitcher, you can go out there and throw a gem of a game–giving up only a couple runs–but if the lineup isn’t clicking on that particular day, you’re not going to get the win.

So, while it would appear at first glance that Kershaw didn’t have a Cy Young worthy year, if you take the time to look closely you can clearly see that Kershaw was the NL’s best all-around pitcher of the season; and as such, is my pick for 2012 National League Cy Young.

Do you agree or disagree with me?

As always, feel free to leave a comment below.

5 thoughts on “My Vote for National League Cy Young

  1. Your logic is a little flawed. You’re ranking the pitchers against each other, instead of against all the other pitchers in the league. For example, instead of Kershaw getting 6 points for the number of wins, he should be getting 15 points because there are 15 other pitchers ahead of him.

    Another point is that you’re weighing all of these categories equally. For example, having the least number of wild pitches counts just as much as having the best ERA or the most number of strikeouts. I don’t think many people would say that these stats should be weighed the same. Having K/9 as a stat AND total strikeous is misleading as well, because you’re counting the same thing twice. You should have one or the other, but not both.

    Just my two cents.

  2. I understand where you’re coming from, but I fail to see where my logic is flawed.
    I took the pitchers that had ERA’s within the Cy Young range (below 3.00) and compared them to each other with the mentality of, “Why should I include Barry Zito (who had a 4.15 ERA) in the Cy Young conversation with Clayton Kershaw (who had an ERA of 2.53) just because Zito recorded more wins?” So I fail to see where I’m wrong there.
    Secondly, K_9 is NOT the same thing as total strikeouts. (I’d like to point out that R.A. Dickey finished 1st in strikeouts, while finishing 3rd in K_9.) K_9 is a stat worth including in the comparison because it relates to which pitcher was more effective (in terms of strikeouts) per inning of work. So again, I fail to see the issue.
    Now the one thing I’ll give you is the fact that I am indeed weighing all of these categories equally, but the only way I could go about making everything equal is to leave certain categories out altogether–and I didn’t want to do that.
    Again, maybe I went across this wrong, but for the most part, I can’t see where.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the reply.
    I think if you’re going to use ERA as the basis of including or excluding the players from contention (and ignore win-loss record), then you are saying that ERA is more important than win-loss record. With that established, I think it is unfair to 1) Use win-loss record in your formula or 2) Weigh win-loss the same as ERA. Likewise, if you are going to use win-loss as an equally weighted statistic, then you are saying that win-loss is just as important as ERA. Therefore, someone like Zito should be included in the calculation (no way he should be in the Cy Young conversation, but he should be included in the calculation.) This means that if Kershaw is #1 overall for ERA, then he earned it. And if he is 15th overall for win-loss record, then he should get the points for it.

    Right now, the system favors Kershaw because he isn’t penalized for being 15th in win-loss because he only needs to be compared to 6 other players. When this bias exists, this means that another player’s overall achievement is diluted and diminished.

    Regarding K and K/9, (and other statistics like it)… For example, a player like Dickey can be credited for being #2 in ERA, but penalized because he had more earned runs than others. However, this is only because he pitched more innings than everyone else. So while one statistic counts total number of earned runs… the other statistic normalizes it by the total number of innings pitched. This gives a more accurate comparison because it is a rate and normalized across all players. Should Dickey be penalized for having the highest number of earned runs when he has the second lowest ERA? I don’t think so. ERA is the stat to keep in this case.

    Thanks for the dialogue. All the best.

  4. Once again, I hear where you’re coming from, but once again I still don’t fully agree. I would go into detail but I don’t have the time (as I’m working on tomorrow’s blog post) so let’s just agree to disagree.

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