What are your Cy Young picks?
On November 15, the AL Cy Young picks for 2011 will be released, with the NL picks coming the next day. With two triple crown winners, the Cy Young Award winners shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s fun filling out ballots anyway – and, for the second year in a row, there will be five picks per ballot instead of just 3. Here’s my ballot:
5. Doug Fister (RHP, Seattle Mariners/Detroit Tigers)
Doug Fister started the season just 3-12 for the Mariners, despite pitching quite well with a 3.33 ERA and 1.171 WHIP in his first 21 starts with the team. Seeing through the W/L record, Tigers GM Dave Combrowski traded for the 26 year old righty and was rewarded with an excellent stretch run. Between the two clubs, Fister ended up 6th in the league in WHIP and 4th in ERA.
4. James Shields (RHP, Tampa Bay Rays)
After a rough 2010 (in which he led the league in hits, earned runs, and home runs), James Shields rebounded with an impressive 2011, completing 11 starts, including four for shutouts. His 2.82 ERA ranked third in the American League and his 1.043 WHIP ranked fifth.
3. CC Sabathia (LHP, New York Yankees)
Called upon to lead the Yankee rotation for the third straight year, CC Sabathia excelled once again, compiling over 230 innings for the fifth consecutive season. The southpaw struck out 230 batters, his best total since joining The Empire.
2. Jered Weaver (RHP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Weaver followed up an outstanding 2010 by going toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander for most of the season, before fading late. His 2.41 ERA and 1.010 WHIP both ranked second in the league to…
1. Justin Verlander (RHP, Detroit Tigers)
It was a season to remember for the Tigers’ ace and possible American League MVP. Justin Verlander registered with a league best 24-5 record, 2.40 ERA (170 ERA+), 0.920 WHIP, and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings pitched. He should win this award unanimously.
5. Cole Hamels (LHP, Philadelphia Phillies)
Finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting is the Phillies #3 starter, Cole Hamels. The southpaw had his best career season at age 27, with a 2.79 ERA, 0.986 WHIP, and 4.41 K/BB ratio – all career bests, and all top-5 in the league.
4. Ian Kennedy (RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks)
In just his second full season, Ian Kennedy has established himself as the unquestioned ace of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ staff, tying for the league lead with 21 wins and placing fifth in innings pitched and fourth in WHIP. His emergence is one of the biggest reasons for turning the Diamondbacks from a cellar-dweller to NL West champs.
3. Cliff Lee (LHP, Philadelphia Phillies)
This year, Cliff Lee enjoyed two of the greatest months ever turned in by a starting pitcher, going 5-0 with a 1 earned run surrendered in 42 IP in June and then giving up all of 2 earned runs in a similar 5-0 August. While months are a completely arbitrary divider, it’s hard to argue with the end results: 238 strikeouts, a 161 ERA+, 1.027 WHIP, and a league best six shutouts.
2. Roy Halladay (RHP, Philadelphia Phillies)
In a dead-heat with his teammate (and man he was once traded for), Roy Halladay led the league with eight complete games, a 164 ERA+, 1.3 BB/9, and a 6.29 K/BB ratio. The perpetual Cy Young candidate moved ever closer towards Cooperstown, winning 19 games and racking up 220 strikeouts in 32 starts.
1. Clayton Kershaw (LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Clayton Kershaw won the pitching triple crown, winning 21 games with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. This alone makes him a slam-dunk candidate, along with his league-best 0.977 WHIP and 6.7 H/9. For me, the deciding factor is the 18 games he started against teams better than .500, easily more than his competition for the award. At just 23, the question remains – how many more of these does he have to win?
Once again, these are my picks – what are yours?