Breaking Down This Year’s Cy Young Finalists
2012 Cy Young Award Finalists
What denotes a pitcher worthy of the Cy Young Award?
Is it the number of wins in a season? It can’t be that because look at Felix Hernadez when he won the award in 2010. King Felix ended the season with a record of 13-12.
Is it the lowest ERA? It can’t be that either because when Brandon Webb was awarded the Cy Young in 2006, he had an ERA of 3.10, which was third best in the NL.
How about strikeouts? Tom Glavine was deemed the best NL pitcher in 1998 when he had 157 strikeouts. Meanwhile Randy Johnson averaged 354 strikeouts per season when he won from 1999-2002.
Should closers win it? Eric Gange was named the NL Cy Young leader for his performance in 2003 when he had 55 saves, an ERA of 1.20, and 137 strikeouts on the season. But is him pitching 129 less innings than Mark Prior fair?
Should their team's record be taken into account? R.A. Dickey is a finalist this year, while the New York Mets were in the basement at the end of the season, and other finalist, Justin Verlander, led the Detroit Tigers to first in their division.
It’s a combination of all the above things, as well as many more stats, and of course we can’t forget about the human element.
It’s an award that is voted on by humans, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to be exact, so there is no one specific formula to determine who is named the best pitcher in each league. So technically, there is never really a correct choice. No matter who is picked, there will still be writers and fans that will make an argument as to why another candidate should have won.
So here are the finalists, as chosen by the BBWAA.
National League Finalist, Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw is the reigning NL Cy Young champ, and there's no question why he is in this position again this year. It is hard to believe that this 24 year old kid has been in the major leagues since 2008, and has already accomplished more than some pitchers will accomplish in their entire careers, including a Cy Young award, the NL pitching Triple Crowne, two All-Star appearances, and this year's Roberto Clemente Award.
Clayton ended 2012 with a 14-9 record, a league leading 2.53 ERA, and 229 strikeouts, which is just one behind league leader, R.A. Dickey.
Even though he has great stats, because his 2011 was so dominant he will probably be compared to that, and what he didn't repeat this season will be pointed out moreso than what he did do.
National League Finalist, Gio Gonzalez
Gio Gonzalez ended the season with a NL best record of 21-8 with an ERA of 2.89 and 207 strikeouts.
Opponents hit just .206 off on Gonzalez, and yielded only nine homeruns on the season, both which lead the NL finalists.
While his numbers are most definitely good, the excitement of the Washington Nationals, and his teammate Stephen Strasburg helped put Gio in the spotlight. Even though he led the league in wins, I don't know if he would get the same amount of attention if he was on another team.
National League Finalist, R.A. Dickey
While not even Hall of Famer Phil Neikro won a Cy Young Award, I think this is the year of the knuckleballer. R.A. Dickey really took the baseball world by storm this year, all while throwing the ball a whopping 53 m.p.h. at times.
Dickey hit the 20 win plateau this year while posting a 2.73 ERA and a league leading 230 strikeouts. You also have to keep in mind he played on a team that was 14 games under .500. This is where the human factor comes in to play. Dickey is such a good guy, with such an incredible story. This could be his last chance at this award. I don't think that's why he should win it, I think his numbers are strong enough, but if it helps, then I'm all for it.
American League Finalist, Jered Weaver
Well, Jered Weaver sure had an incredible year. Tied for the league lead with 20 wins, Weaver put up a 2.81 ERA with 142 strikeouts. Oh, and did I mention the no-hitter he threw on May 2?
While throwing a no-hitter is certainly impressive, I don't think it's enough to lock up the Cy Young Award.
American League Finalist, David Price
The other league leader for wins with 20, David Price led the league with a 2.56 ERA and racked up 205 strikeouts.
David Price worked to bounce back from a dismal 2011 where he had a 12-13 record and 3.49 ERA. He has proved that with hard work, he can be a consistently great pitcher for years to come.
American League Finalist, Justin Verlander
Easily the most likeable AL finalist, Justin Verlander has been the best in the game since his rookie year, and could potentially win this award every year.
Verlander ended 2012 with a 17-8 record, a 2.65 ERA, and a commanding league lead 239 strikeouts. He is a work horse, which his six complete games this year show.
Though he just won it in 2011, Verlander is definitely deserving of this award again this year.