MLB Cy Young Award 2013: American League

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tigers starter Max Scherzer is the favorite to win the American League Cy Young award today, but the Fake Teams writers make their case for Yu Darvish, Greg Holland, Koji Uehara and others.

Major League Baseball announces their American League Cy Young award winner later today, but the Fake Teams writers got together to provide you with our take on who should win the award, along with stating the case for several of the other candidates.

Max Scherzer is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young award, but our writers make the case for several other legitimate candidates, including Anibal Sanchez, Felix Hernandez, and two closers, Koji Uehara and Greg Holland.

American League Cy Young Award

Making the Cy Young Case: Max Scherzer

by Daniel Kelley

Max Scherzer is going to win the American League Cy Young, and it'll probably be a walkover. He won 21 games, and that's bright and shiny and will get votes. But it's not why I'm supporting him; it's merely a side effect of the overall condition. He led the league in WHIP (a flawed stat, but an interesting one) and was second in strikeouts.

Truth be told, Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Anibal Sanchez, Chris Sale ... you couldn't really go wrong with any of a lot of choices, and they pretty much all led the league in something or other. I don't look at soft factors like dominance, or pressure, or, yes, wins to find candidates, but when it gets close - as close as it is this year - I'm fine using them as tiebreakers. So, okay, you win, Scherzer, 21 wins is that last little straw, even if it's meaningless.

Making the Cy Young Case: Anibal Sanchez

by Brian Creagh

The odds on favorite for AL Cy Young is Max Scherzer, but the player I believe to be his runner-up is actually his rotation-mate in Detroit, Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez clinched the ERA title for the American League in 2013, the first year of his 5 year $88 million contract that was widely criticized at first. Let's take a look at Sanchez's results for this season:


Player

Record

ERA

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

Anibal Sanchez

14-8

2.57

182

10.0

2.7

0.4


Sanchez matches Max Scherzer stat for stat with the only exception being the fewer starts and IP due to a shoulder strain that kept Sanchez out for three weeks including the All-Star game. Being on the same roster, they both pitched for the same defense and ballparks and were apart of the same playoff push for the AL Central winning Tigers so the only major advantage Scherzer has is the number of W's and number of innings pitched.

Not only was Sanchez superior in a flawed ERA statistic, he was also better in both FIP and xFIP categories.

Player

ERA

FIP

xFIP

Anibal Sanchez

2.57

2.39

2.91

Max Scherzer

2.90

2.74

3.16

Scherzer's success was fueled by a career low .259 BABIP while Sanchez had .307 BABIP which is right on par with his career averages. Neutralizing these variables, as FIP attempts to do, shows that Sanchez was a more dominant pitcher. The WAR argument favors Scherzer but it's his 6.4 to Sanchez's 6.2 so it's a wash in my eyes.

Scherzer's major league-leading 21 Wins is going to be the deciding factor and ultimately give him the Cy Young award, and Sanchez will be 30 innings and 4-5 starts shy of being a legitimate contender. Anibal Sanchez does warrant the voters consideration as he matched Scherzer step for step to form the best 1-2 top of the rotation in the major leagues.

Making the Cy Young Case: Felix Hernandez

by Zack Smith

Felix Hernandez has finished in the top four in Cy Young award voting three times, taking the award home in 2010. This year, Hernandez' teammate, Hisashi Iwakuma, is up against Yu Darvish whose 277 strikeouts were more than any pitcher in a single season since 2005 and Max Scherzer who went 21-3 and led the Tigers to their third straight division title. Iwakuma was phenomenal in his second season while both Darvish and Scherzer are strong candidates and had great seasons as well. Felix Hernandez, however, had the most complete season of the group.

Although the crusade against pitcher wins is still in progress, I think people are starting to come around and Felix Hernandez is doing his part to help the cause. Outside of 2009, Hernandez has never won more than fourteen games but he has consistently been one of the best pitchers in the American League. In 2013, Hernandez finished fifth in strikeouts, sixth in ERA (first in xFIP) and third in K/BB. With a strikeout rate over 26%, a walk rate of 5.6% and an opponent batting average of .239; Hernandez was able to limit base runners and post a WHIP of 1.13. Felix Hernandez finished third among AL pitchers in WAR and was among the league leaders in almost every statistical category. He might not have Yu Darvish's strikeout total and he might not be a twenty game winner, but there's no denying that Hernandez has yet again put up another Cy Young caliber season.

Making the Cy Young Case: Greg Holland

by Alex Kantecki

First things first, I don't believe a relief pitcher should win a Cy Young. Ever. But, since 1967, nine relievers have taken home the award, including, most recently, Eric Gagne in 2003. Russ Ortiz led the majors with 21 wins that season, and the whole #killthewin thing -- and hashtags, for that matter -- wasn't even a thing. (What's a Twitter?) So while my top-four preferences for American League Cy were Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Yu Darvish and Anibal Sanchez, Holland squeezes in at the No. 5 spot on the heels of a season not many saw coming. The Royals first-year (full-time) closer trailed only Koji Uehara in WAR, according to FanGraphs, and by the slimmest of margins (3.2 to 3.1). Holland led AL relievers with 103 strikeouts in 67 innings, and only Aroldis Chapman tallied a higher strikeout rate. It was Holland's best year in terms of saves (47), ERA (1.21), WHIP (0.87) and BAA (.169), and, in terms of the fantasy landscape, he was the greatest relief value on draft day with an ADP of 144.9, according to FantasyPros.com. Only Craig Kimbrel finished better, but he was taken as the No. 1 closer on draft day. Holland's draft day value won't be nearly as sweet in 2014, but that doesn't take away from his MVP-like fantasy season in 2013.

Making the Cy Young Case: Koji Uehara

by Andrew Ball

While Koji Uehara won't win the American League Cy Young Award -- heck he wasn't even a finalist for the honor -- there should be little argument that he had the most impressive and dominant season among AL pitchers. Looking at all individual pitcher seasons (min 50 innings) since 1900 (21,602 in total), Uehara ranked in the top-five all-time in WHIP (0.57, first), BAA (.128, second), K/BB (11.22, fifth), and K%-BB% (34.7, fifth), while also turning in the tenth best ERA- at 26, which essentially means his ERA was 74% better than a league average pitcher in 2013. Along with the batting average against, opposing batters managed just a .174 wOBA against Uehara this past season; for reference, Greg Maddux's career wOBA as a hitter is .179. And of course I would be remissed if I didn't mention that he posted a 0.28 ERA after the All-Star break, and that between July 9 and September 16 he didn't allow a single run of any kind, a streak that spanned 26 outings. The argument as to why he shouldn't win is fairly straight forward -- Uehara accounted for just 5.1% of the innings thrown by Red Sox pitchers this year -- but I think what Uehara did was so impressive that we shouldn't let his usage sway the fact that he was the best pitcher in the American League the season.

Fake Teams Voting Results

Below you will find the results of our voting. Note, not all writers submitted a full ballot. Scoring uses the 7-4-3-2-1 points system used by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWWA):

American League Cy Young Award Voting Results

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

Total

Max Scherzer

9

1

65

Yu Darvish

5

1

2

25

Chris Sale

1

2

2

1

15

Felix Hernandez

1

2

2

14

Anibal Sanchez

1

1

2

2

13

Koji Uehara

1

1

1

11

Hisashi Iwakuma

1

1

1

6

Bartolo Colon

1

2

Greg Holland

1

1


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