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MLB Cy Young Award 2013: National League

Clayton Kershaw is expected to win the National League Cy Young award later today, but that didn't stop the Fake Teams writers from making the case for several other candidates, including Jose Fernandez, Cliff Lee, Adam Wainwright and Matt Harvey.


Major League Baseball announces their National 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.

Clayton Kershaw is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young award, but our writers make the case for several other legitimate candidates, including Adam Wainwright, Matt Harvey, Cliff Lee and others.

National League

Making the Cy Young Case: Adam Wainwright

by Daniel Schwartz

Very early in 2013, I had a feeling that Clayton Kershaw was going to be the #1 Fantasy Baseball asset in all of baseball. If it wasn't for monstrous seasons from Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, I would have been right. And if it wasn't for Clayton Kershaw, then Adam Wainwright would in all likelihood be the sure thing NL CY Young.

The only other argument IMO (excluding Jose Fernandez from a Games Started perspective and Kimbrel as a RP) isMatt Harvey (only .1 WAR less than Waino in 8 less starts)! I think he would have been the clear NL CY Young had he stayed healthy and continued his dominance.

With that said, let's start the argument:

(All stats courtesy of Fangraphs' Customized Leaderboards)

1) Wins Above Replacement (WAR):

a. Clayton Kershaw = 6.5

b. Adam Wainwright = 6.2

c. Matt Harvey = 6.1

2) Earned Run Average (ERA) and expected ERA's (xFIP & SIERA):

a. Clayton Kershaw = 1.83 ERA; 2.88 xFIP; 3.06 SIERA

b. Adam Wainwright = 2.94 ERA; 2.80 xFIP; 3.01 SIERA

c. Matt Harvey = 2.27 ERA; 2.63 xFIP; 2.71 SIERA

3) Dominance and GB/FB ratio:

a. Clayton Kershaw = 25.6 K%; 4.46 K/BB ratio; 76.3% Contact Rate (Ct); 11.4% Swing & Miss rate (SwStr); 1.47 GB/FB ratio

b. Adam Wainwright = 22.9 K%; 6.26 K/BB ratio; 79.9 Ct%; 9.6 SwStr%; 1.78 GB/FB ratio

c. Matt Harvey = 27.7 K%; 6.16 K/BB ratio; 74.7 Ct%; 12.5 SwStr%; 1.47 GB/FB ratio

4) "Luck" Statistics (Left on Base, Homerun per Flyball ratio & BABIP)

a. Clayton Kershaw = 80.6 LOB%; 5.8 HR/FB%; .251 BABIP

Career Rate: 77.8 LOB%; 6.6 HR/FB%; .270 BABIP

b. Adam Wainwright = 74.5 LOB%; 8.1 HR/FB%; .305 BABIP

Career Rate: 75.1 LOB%; 8.0 HR/FB%; .295 BABIP

c. Matt Harvey = 77.4 LOB%; 4.7 HR/FB%; .280 BABIP

5) Innings Pitched, Wins and Support:

a. Clayton Kershaw = 236 IP and 16 Wins (9 Losses). In total the Dodgers won 19 games that he started in. While you can associate this to offense and bullpens as well, it's worth noting.

b. Adam Wainwright = 241.2 IP and 19 Wins (9 Losses). The Cardinals won 23 total games that Waino started in.

c. Matt Harvey = 178.1 IP and 11 Wins (9 Losses). I'm not even going to bother counting the other games the Metswon because I'll just get depressed.

The Dodgers scored 125 times in starts Kershaw went with a 41-run differential. The Cardinals scored 157 times with a 54-run differential in Waino's starts.

I'm supposed to be arguing for Adam Wainwright here. Omitting Harvey due to missing time, it's too hard for me to overlook Kershaw's dominance whether or not his home field does deflate his BABIP and HR/FB rate causing an elite sub 2.00 ERA. Maybe you say the 80+% LOB rate is lucky, but he's also a monster in high leverage situations: .197 BA against and a .279 weighted On-base Average relative to Waino's .255 BAA and .292 wOBA.

Again, I'm supposed to be arguing Wainwright here. And so...Adam Wainwright should be the NL Cy Young award winner because he won 19 games for the team that went to the World Series...and I still have nightmares of this.

Making the Cy Young Case: Jose Fernandez

by Jason Hunt

Fernandez was an easy candidate for the Rookie of the Year, and his performance as a rookie was still so dominant that he threw himself into the Cy Young race as well. Fernandez finished in the top in the top 5 in the National League in ERA, WHIP, H/9, K/9, and HR/9, and the advanced stats were just as nice as he finished in the top 5 in FIP, xFIP, and WAR among pitchers. The performance itself was dominant, but still showed extended flashes of even more greatness. From June 1st through the end of his season, Fernandez threw 120 innings, averaging 6.2 IP per start, struck out 135 and allowed a ridiculously low 67 hits allowed with a 1.50 ERA. During that time he allowed more than 2 runs in a start only twice, and did not allow any runs six times. He finished up the season with 4 double-digit strikeout games, including a 14 strikeout effort against the Indians on August 2nd, and struck out at least 8 batters in 13 of his 28 starts. His full-season numbers were off the charts, and on a better team we may have been looking at a pitcher with 18-20 wins.

Making the Cy Young Case: Matt Harvey

by Brian Creagh

Clayton Kershaw is all but assured to win the NL Cy Young this season and deservedly so, but I'd like to present the case for Matt Harvey as NL Cy Young. The argument hinges a bit on "what-if's" as Harvey's late-August elbow injury and subsequent decision to undergo Tommy John has put him too many innings and starts behind Kershaw to be a legitimate contender. The best pro-Harvey arguments deal in ratios as opposed to raw numbers, because on a per/inning basis Harvey has been just as good if not better than Clayton Kershaw.

First, let's take a look at Harvey's final stat line and compare it to Kershaw








Matt Harvey







Clayton Kershaw







The W/L record and IP clearly work out into Kershaw favor, but could look quite a bit different if Harvey was able to make his last handful of starts in September. Another large factor in the IP debate is that the Mets were not a contender this season and had reason to limit Harvey's innings when he pitched. Kershaw dominated in ERA as well allowing almost half a run less than Harvey on the season, but much of this stat is out of the pitchers hands.

Defensive metrics are in their infancy and don't do incredibly well in differentiating between two similarly valued entities, but they do give a general context on the quality of a player or team's defense. In the case between the Dodgers and Mets, it is obvious that Kershaw was pitching with a much better defense behind him than Harvey. UZR and DFS are two of the more widely cited team defensive statistics and both give the Dodgers a large edge. The Dodgers have a UZR and DFS of 23.2 and 47 respectively, and compare that to the Mets values of 9.8 and -9 respectively. A look at FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) backs up this claim as Harvey finished with a FIP of 2.00 and Kershaw with a 2.39. A similar argument could be made to explain the difference in W/L record as the Dodgers offense provided more support to Kershaw than the Mets did to Harvey.

Of the variables a pitcher can control - strikeouts, walks, and home runs to a lesser extent, Harvey has been the better pitcher this season. However, I do fully accept the argument that had Harvey matched Kershaw in innings, these numbers could be a lot closer and Kershaw may have even gained the edge in BB/9 and HR/9. Kershaw pitched far more innings in a more competitive landscape as the Dodgers pushed for the playoffs so I do believe he is this year's Cy Young. Harvey put up a commendable fight, one worth further consideration.

Making the Cy Young Case: Clayton Kershaw

by Ray Guilfoyle

It's is pretty much a slam dunk that Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will win his second Cy Young award in the last three seasons today. Making the case for him is pretty easy, but let's take a look at what he accomplished this season.

Kershaw went 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 2.88 xFIP, a 092 WHIP and a 232-52 strikeout to walk rate in 236 innings this season. He led all major league pitchers with a 6.5 WAR. Here is a list of what else he accomplished this season:

  • He gave up just 11 home runs in 236 innings. Only three qualified starters, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and Anibal Sanchez, gave up fewer home runs. They all threw 50 fewer innings than Kershaw.
  • The last starting pitcher to lead MLB with an ERA under 2.00 was Roger Clemens back in 2005 with theHouston Astros. Prior to that, we have to go all the way back to Pedro Martinez and his 1.74 ERA in 2000.
  • Kershaw gave up two runs or less in 26 of his 33 starts this season.
  • He gave up one run or less in 19 of his 33 starts.
  • He tossed seven innings or more in 25 of his 33 starts this season.
  • Once a starter who had trouble with his control early in his career, he walked zero batters in eight of his 33 starts this season. He walked one batter or fewer in 18 of his 33 starts.
  • He held right-handed hitters to a triple slash line of .199-.249-.283, he held lefties to a triple slash line of .164-.254-.263.
  • His triple slash line allowed was lower on the road -.184-.249-.268 - than at home -.200-.239-.286.
  • His highest monthly ERA was 2.65 in June. His lowest was his 1.01 ERA in August.

I would be shocked if he doesn't win the National League Cy Young award. I would be even more shocked if he doesn't sign a long term contract extension with the Dodgers before spring training.

Making the Cy Young Case: Cliff Lee

by Zack Smith

This season was an amazing year for NL pitchers. Adam Wainwright led the league with 19 wins in his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery. Clayton Kershaw posted the lowest ERA since Pedro's 1.74 in 2000. We saw the emergence of the next great wave of young pitching with the likes of Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, Gerrit Cole,Julio Teheran and Jose Fernandez among others. Seemingly lost in all of it is Cliff Lee who has been one of the most reliable starting pitchers of the last five years and continued that trend in 2013. While his win-loss record has fluctuated, Lee has thrown at least 211 innings with an ERA below 3.25 and 170 strikeouts in each of those seasons. Kershaw is all but a sure thing to take home the Cy Young Award this year but Cliff Lee should receive some serious consideration.

For the third time in the last four years, Lee has led the majors in K/BB rate and finished with a ratio of 6.94 which led the NL by .68 strikeouts to every walk. One reason Lee is able to limit walks so well is that he starts off 68.5% of batters he faces with a strike. He finished sixth in ERA but second in both xFIP and SIERA behind only Matt Harvey who threw almost fifty fewer innings. Lee went 14-8 in front of one of the worst defenses in the major leagues and a bullpen that lost three wins for him. He averaged 7.2 innings per game, tying Clayton Kershaw for the major league lead but received half a run less in terms of run support. While Lee's strikeout totals and ERA may fall short of Kershaw's, he posted a better K/9 rate than Kershaw and ERA estimation metrics favor Lee. With a little more run support and/or a better bullpen, Lee may have challenged Wainwright and Jordan Zimmermann for the league lead in wins. Lee seems to be the best candidate to bridge the sabermetric vs. traditional gap as both camps would be able to make a case in his favor.

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):

National League Cy Young Award Voting Results







Clayton Kershaw



Adam Wainwright




Cliff Lee






Matt Harvey





Jose Fernandez





Mat Latos



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