The 2015 MLB Awards are right around the corner. With many of the races being considered toss-ups by fans and experts alike, such as the AL MVP (Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout) and AL Rookie of the Year (Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor) among others, the accolade with the most uncertainty surrounding its outcome is clearly the NL Cy Young.
As Zach Greinke, Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom and others dominate opponents on a consistent basis, selecting one as the standout from the bunch is an extraordinary challenge.
Greinke, the NL’s starting pitcher in this past year’s All Star Game and the 2009 AL Cy Young winner, had the best season of his 11-year career. Finishing the season with the highest win percentage among qualified pitchers (.864), the lowest ERA in the majors (1.66), highest WAR (9.3) and the lowest WHIP among starters (0.844), Greinke posted a 19-3 record as the arguable ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His Dodgers partner in crime of ridiculously elite pitching, Clayton Kershaw, the reigning NL MVP and three-time NL Cy Young winner, led the league with 301 strikeouts, 232.2 innings and four complete games, including three shutouts, with a 16-7 record.
Jake Arrieta, emerging Cubs ace, finished the season with the most wins in the majors at a record of 22-6. He tied Kershaw with four complete games and three shutouts, including one no-hitter, threw 229.0 innings, was runner-up to Greinke with an 8.7 WAR and posted an ERA of 1.77 and WHIP of 0.865, all while piloting Chicago to its first postseason appearance since 2008.
Three-time All-Star and 2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer completed a solid 14-12 season that included not one, but two no-hitters for a Washington Nationals ballclub that fell well short of expectations. 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants continued his torrid ascension to the top of the league with an 18-7 record. Pirates star Gerrit Cole capped off his stellar year with a 19-8 record and 2.60 ERA and 2014 NL Rookie of the Year. Jacob deGrom led the Mets to the World Series after a 14-8 record and 2.54 ERA in the regular season.
It is a veritable logjam, even after former National League aces Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels were traded to American League teams mid-season. As pitching remains the trend in baseball, the NL enjoys a surplus of talent at the position. After a period of unprecedented hitting success in the steroid era, these gem-twirlers have helped turn the MLB into a sport governed by pitching, where fielding, “small ball” and base running are as important as ever.
The top vote-getters for this season’s NL Cy Young Award will likely be Greinke and Arrieta, with Kershaw playing the role of dark horse, though strong arguments can be made for each of the pitchers previously mentioned. The race is so close that it really comes down to personal preference.
With a historic upper-class of pitchers, picking the best in the National League is an almost impossible task.
Leave a Reply