Starting pitching in the National League has been very good this season and has been much of the focus of this blog. There is much debate currently of who should win the National League Cy Young award. The race has been a three pony affair. With the Phillies Aces Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay competing against each other as well as the Dodgers young gun-slinger Clayton Kershaw. All three are the only N.L. pitchers with a WAR over 6.
Many of the sports reporters who have debated the achievements of these three starters, look at the “standard” statistics and have come to the conclusion that it is in fact a race. And in part I cannot blame then for this, because while looking at these types of statistics, this Cy Young race looks close. The statistics they would look at would be W-L, ERA, strikeouts and if they are “ambitious” WHIP of the three pitchers.
Based on these statistics the pitchers are extremely comparable. Kershaw’s line is as follows 19-5/2.30/236/.98 (W-L/ERA/SO/WHIP). Halladay has similar numbers 18-5/2.34/211/1.04. Lee continues to mirror his colleagues at 16-7/2.38/223/1.02. These Stats are almost identical, with Lee having a few less wins than the others and Kershaw has some more K’s, but nonetheless one could make an argument for any of these three pitchers to win the award based on these numbers. And if I would have to predict, based only on these numbers, who would win I would say Clayton Kershaw was the N.L. Cy Young winner.
However, these statistics do not reveal the true value of the pitchers in the race. Moving into the world of Sabrmetrics, Roy Halladay has already ran away with the award. Hallady has a WAR of 8.1 and a FIP of 2.04. While, the top 3 N.L. starters in both of these statistical categories are Halladay, Kershaw, and Lee respectively, Halladay is heads and shoulders above them in these stats. Kershaw has a WAR 1.3 lower than Halladay (6.8), while Halladay’s teammate Lee’s WAR (6.5) is 1.6 lower. All three have tremendous FIP’s below 3, but Halladay’s is significantly better than the other two aces (Kershaw at 2.37 and Lee at 2.59).
Roy Halladay most likely will win the award, because voters may have a bias towards him, because of past success. But it is too highly possible that one of the other two wins the award, and while they are deserving, they just have not been in the class of Halladay this season. There are only about 2 starts left this season for these starters, which is to say their WAR’s cannot change that much, thus Halladay will still be the obvious Cy Young winner.
This blog tends to look at everything from an Economic-value since, and from this perspective Halladay would not be the most valuable of these three. Because he makes about 6 million more than Lee and over 19 million more than Kershaw. But the Cy Young award goes to the best pitcher overall by performance, not by economic value, thus Roy Halladay hands-down deserves the Cy Young based completely on his dominance on the field.