Batting Leadoff Awards: Cy Young Award

Here at Batting Leadoff we decided to have some fun and vote on our own awards for the 2013 season.  We’ll be unveiling the winners throughout the week with a write-up posted by a different blogger for each award. We’d love to hear your feedback so feel free to join the debate anytime. Enjoy!

American League Cy Young AwardMax Scherzer

Others Receiving Votes: Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez

I’m no fan of the Win-Loss record in evaluating pitcher performance, but in this case, 21-3 can best sum up what was an absolutely dominating 2013 for Max Scherzer. Scherzer posted a paltry 2.90 ERA (in the AL, no less), with peripherals that were arguably just as good: a 2.74 FIP and 3.16 xFIP. The reason for this difference in FIP and xFIP is clearly the ratio of HR/FB allowed, which was kept to just 7.6% versus his career average of 10.4%. Maybe this was just luck, or quite possibly an adjustment he made to keep fly balls in the park. But nonetheless, for an award such as this, it’s the results that matter. And on that fact, Scherzer is undoubtedly the Batting Leadoff AL Cy Young.

–Matthew Provenzano

National League Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw (unanimous selection)

I think it’s fair to say that the only question about the 2013 NL Cy Young Award voting is whether it will be unanimous or not. And even that is not much of a question. Clayton Kershaw had the best year of his career thus far, a career that prior to 2013 had included a Cy Young Award victory in 2011, a second-place finish in the voting in 2012, and three consecutive years of 212 strikeouts or more in 200 innings or more (including league leading strikeout numbers in 2011, when he punched out 248 batters in 233.1 innings).

The fact that Kershaw’s 2013 campaign trumped his career statistics is unbelievably impressive. His 1.83 ERA put him in the category with Pedro Martinez (2000- 1.74 ERA) and Roger Clemens (2005- 1.87 ERA) as the only three pitchers in the 21st century to qualify for the ERA title and finish the year with an ERA under 2.00. He also led the league in strikeouts for the second time in his career while walking a career low 52 batters in 236.0 innings. His other-worldly 194 ERA+ and dominant 0.92 WHIP were also tops in the NL in 2013.

Not to take away from McCutchen, Molina, and Goldschmidt, but I would even argue that Kershaw is an MVP candidate. When Justin Verlander won the award in 2011, his ERA was 0.57 points higher than Kershaw’s 2013 ERA,  and their WHIPs, SO/9, BB/9 , and H/9 are all nearly identical. But I’m sure Kershaw will settle for his second career Cy Young award. Clayton Kershaw’s 2013 season is just part of the Hollywood script that will earn the 25-year old southpaw more accolades, dollars, and perhaps a run at a World Series title down the road.

–Jesse Sherman

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