Breaking Blue 2015 AL Cy Young Award Ballots
(Featured image from Arturo Pardavila, https://www.flickr.com/photos/apardavila/)
Sunday, we gave our hypothetical ballots for the NL Cy Young award. Today we shift to the American League.
John Havok – Chris Sale. I can hear your heads exploding.
Dallas Keuchel will get a lot of support from the camp that values 20 wins, a very low ERA and being on a team going to the playoffs. His ground ball numbers and weak contact rate are league leaders. David Price is in that same camp that love Ws and playoffs with his 18-5 record leading the AL East champs, and he strikes out more hitters than Keuchel. That’s not to say that they also don’t have great reasons to vote for them other than that, because they do, but that’s the argument you’ll hear from all the talking heads on TV. Chris Sale probably wont even be an afterthought for many, but realistically a very compelling case can be made for him. Sale had the highest K rate, tied for second lowest walk rate and just happened to play on a garbage team to weigh his W/L record down which will eliminate him from a lot of dinosaur ballots, but that’s just not right. Chris Sale struck out almost 3 batters more per 9 innings than Price, and his walk rate was better too. He was the most dominant pitcher in the American League and he gets my top vote, followed by Price and Keuchel.
Spencer Estey – Chris Sale
I explained my thoughts on this race here: http://www.breakingblue.ca/2015/09/2…cy-young-race/ . I believe that Chris Sale is the league’s best pitcher.
Nikolai Ballevski – David Price
Price edged Keuchel in fWAR, K rate, ERA, and FIP. Keuchel had 2 more wins than price, a better xFIP, and 12 more innings. Both teams made the playoffs. This is a dead heat.
Chris Sale had the best FIP, xFIP, and K rate in the AL. He was probably the league’s best full season SP in terms of talent alone. This is a three way dead heat!
I think Price’s ERA crown will be significant to voters, as will the fact that he switched teams mid-season and lead a division champion team’s rotation into the playoffs. I don’t think Keuchel deserves any significant credit for the IP and W gap, considering part of that comes from the luxury Toronto had to skip Price’s final start of the season. Unlike Spencer, I think there is some room in the Cy Young discussion for ERA and Price’s gap on Sale is much larger than Arrieta or Greinke’s gap on Kershaw. I think the voters will pick Price, so I’m picking Price.
André Godin – Chris Sale
These days we have so many advanced performance metrics that it seems ridiculous to use a voting process to determine the best performances so I feel like the awards really have no choice but to consider good narrative lest they become completely obsolete by merely repeating what we already know. For this reason, I was tempted to go Keuchel for his breakout season but upon further inspection that breakout is a bit of a false narrative (he was really good last year too!). Chris Sale’s season on the other hand is pretty historically significant for one that’s somewhat under the radar. Chris Sale’s 11.8 K9 (6.52 K/BB) season would be elite coming from a reliever but Sale just did it from the rotation. That’s enough to just crack the top 10 starters K/9s of all time and puts him in a leaderboard that’s 60% populated by Randy Johnson’s peek season. Elite company to say the least.
3 votes for Sale. 1 vote Price and no love for Keuchel despite the buzz around him for the award. Realistically I think we can expect a 2 horse race between Price and Keuchel when the real votes are counted simply because they have the edge in the stats that the traditionalists love. Sale is being criminally underrated by the national baseball community right now because he didn’t make the playoffs and plays on a garbage team, when the reality is he belongs in the conversation as much as Price or Keuchel.