Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 10/17/12

In five of the last six years, the American League Cy Young award winner has had the lowest ERA. This year’s ERA leader is David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. Therefore, Price should win the award. Right? Wrong.
In 2011, Justin Verlander was in a league of his own. Winning 24 games, leading the league in strikeouts, WHIP, BAA, ERA and various other categories, he was an obvious choice for the award.
This year, Jered Weaver leads in BAA and WHIP, Price has ERA, Verlander has strikeouts and Weaver and Price are tied for wins. Pretty scattered. But the stats that really matter are the ones nobody pays attention to.
BAA, quality starts, WHIP, ERA and OBP. These five categories determine what a pitcher has really done all season. You can’t use wins as a huge factor because some teams just don’t score. Check Felix Hernandez and his Cy Young award in 2010.
So to break down these stats, here are the three leading candidates numbers.
(Rankings in American League.)

The three are all pretty rock solid, no doubt. But the underlying factor with Weaver is that he spent some time on the DL. Weaver only finished the season with 30 starts and 188.2 innings compared to Price who finished with 31 starts and 211 innings and Verlander who finished with 33 starts and 238.1 innings. I think the 50 less innings along with the high ERA and low quality starts will take him out of the equation. If he had played the full season though, I would easily give him the Cy Young. But that’s not the case.
So now we are left with two. Price vs Verlander.
Comparing these two, the numbers are pretty even so far. But if you break down the stats even more, the winner clearly emerges. For the second straight year.
What Verlander excels in that takes him above Price is his ability to go deep in practically every game. Verlander finished the season with six complete games compared to Price who only had two. But Verlander’s six could have been a lot higher. In the 33 games he started, he went at least eight innings in 15 of them. And of the 33 starts, he went at least six innings in 31 of them. Talk about workhorse.
Another big statistic in determining a Cy Young is Wins Above Replacement, also known as WAR. This stat determines the player’s actual value to the team and their wins. Verlander’s 7.6 WAR compared to Price’s 6.4 could be what finishes off the voting. Verlander’s WAR ranks first in the MLB for pitchers and third in the MLB for all players. Price’s WAR isn’t terrible, as he is ranked second in the MLB for pitchers, but every decimal matters and 1.2 is a huge difference.
The numbers are close. Very close. There is no doubt that voting will be a lot tougher this year compared to last season, but I think when the numbers get broken down, it will be clear that Verlander is the winner. And I think the fact that his team made the playoffs will be a little boost as well.
-Stanley

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