2017 Fantasy Baseball: NL Cy Young Race
As we reach the end of the season it becomes the perfect time to evaluate the awards. Every playoff season produces heroes and goats and those performances often color our perception of who should be the regular season MVP and Cy Young award winner. Pitchers in particular play a huge role in who wins in October. If we went by October then Madison Bumgarner would be a three time Cy Young award winner instead of just a postseason hero.
Most voters use a more scientific approach than they did in the old days. We will look at four different complex metrics and how each of the top five candidates rank in those categories amongst themselves. Those will include total points (described in detail in the AL version), total runs, bWAR, and fWAR. We will also include an intangible category since voters also include that.
Jacob deGrom— New York Mets
Total Points: 338 (5th)
bWAR: 5.0 (5th)
fWAR: 4.4 (5th)
Total Runs: 111 (4th)
It’s hard to deny that he is at best the fifth best starter in the National League. Some might be tempted to put Robbie Ray in this group, but we give the nod to deGrom because he was more consistent across the board on these four metrics and he was more durable. His basic numbers would have looked considerably better had he played for a good team.
Zack Greinke— Arizona Diamondbacks
Total Points: 360 (t-3rd)
bWAR: 6.4 (3rd)
fWAR: 5.1 (3rd)
Total Runs: 119 (2nd)
The Dbacks exploded on the scene to become arguably the third best team in the National League. You could argue that Greinke was the biggest reason why on the pitching side. His last two outings were horrific, but they had already solidified their spot as the top wild card team by that time. Do you grade the overall results or just the ones while it mattered?
Clayton Kershaw— Los Angeles Dodgers
Total Points: 383 (2nd)
bWAR: 5.1 (4th)
fWAR: 4.7 (4th)
Total Runs: 108 (5th)
Unfortunately, attendance matters. Kershaw missed eight starts with injury and those missing starts killed his overall value. If you go on a start by start basis then Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. Still, Cy Young awards aren’t granted on a per start basis. He could finish as high as second or as low as fifth depending on how the individual voter views his season with the injuries.
Max Scherzer— Washington Nationals
Total Points: 452 (1st)
bWAR: 7.3 (1st)
fWAR: 5.9 (1st)
Total Runs: 132 (1st)
There isn’t much suspense here. Scherzer matches overall quality with durability. His 132 total runs register as the best in all of baseball for starting pitchers. This would make for his third Cy Young award and probably cement his place in Cooperstown. The Nationals and the Indians have two starters on their list, so it could end up being the Indians and Nationals in the World Series.
Stephen Strasburg— Washington Nationals
Total Points: 360 (t-3rd)
bWAR: 6.6 (2nd)
fWAR: 5.6 (2nd)
Total Runs: (4th)
Could the Nationals have the best and second best pitcher in the league according to the voters? It’s certainly possible when you look at the numbers. Strasburg missed a few starts, but he finished the season strong and that will likely play on the voter’s minds. The question is whether they give him enough credit for his durability to surpass Kershaw.
The Final Verdict
It’s hard to deny Scherzer at this point. He should walk away with the third Cy Young award of his career. The only drama will come in how the rest of the top five is ordered. If Strasburg finishes second it will be the first time it has happened in the modern age.