Top 15 Candidates to Win 2013 MLB NL Cy Young Award
Top 15 Candidates to Win 2013 MLB NL Cy Young Award
Who saw R.A. Dickey coming?
Stop it. You're a big, fat, liar.
No one predicted R.A. Dickey to win the 2012 NL Cy Young Award, and that includes Dickey himself. His resurgence to the majors over the past years has been an amazing and inspirational story, but even he would admit he didn't see it ending with a Cy Young Award.
Which is half the fun. There are at least a dozen pitchers who we know have a legitimate shot at winning an award like this entering the 2013 season, and probably another handful that we don't even know about.
But I'm going to take a shot at guessing anyway.
As we've learned, there's a lot that goes into a Cy Young season. It used to just be the most wins or the lowest ERA. Now voters are getting smarter. There's FIP and WAR to consider, but luckily those are more consistent indicators of performance from year to year.
On any given season, a pitcher's defense can let him down and send his ERA up. His offense can let him down and keep his win total there as well. Felix Hernandez won an award without a high win total, but that doesn't mean everyone can.
We know what it generally takes. You have to be a good pitcher and it helps if you're on a good team. You have to stay healthy and make all of your starts, and it helps to strike out a lot of guys too.
This is the criteria. Here are the Candidates.
15 - Aroldis Chapman
It's rare for relievers to win the Cy Young award, but those that do have to be dominant. Chapman is so dominant, he's not even going to be relieving any more.
The Cincinnati Reds are going to use Chapman as a starter this season. It could be a disasterous plan, or it could be magic. We have no idea which, but his lightning arm gets him on this list.
14 - Craig Kimbrel
Again, I repeat, relievers shouldn't win the Cy Young award. But if there's a reliever that's going to, it's going to be Kimbrel because he's just so stinking dominant.
13 - Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner can be so dominant at times and so hittable in others, as he showed in the post-season when he had a start skipped due to poor performance and flawed mechanics.
But when he's right, he's very right. If he ever puts together the good Madison for an entire season, he'll be right in the discussion among the best in the game.
12 - Tim Lincecum
So the Freak had an off year. Everybody gets one right?
If it were that simple, he'd be higher on the list. But he didn't just have a bad year. He had a horrible year and it was due to a scary lack in velocity. That raises the question marks about his future. If he gets the velo back, he'll be right back in Cy Young contention every year like he's been before, but that is a quesiton mark at this point.
11 - Adam Wainwright
I'm expecting a big year from Wainwright. One year removed from Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2011 season, Wainwright came back last year and was healthy but was not himself. If he can get back to his old form in season two, he's right back to contending. He already has a second and third place finish for the award under his belt.
10 - Johnny Cueto
Cueto gets plenty of run support and is an excellent pitcher, so he's aways going to get a chance to compete for the Cy Young award. It'll be tough to keep his ERA low enough pitching in Cincinnati, and even though there are better indicators for pitching performance these days, the voters still tend to be sticklers towards the traditional numbers.
9 - Gio Gonzalez
Can Gonzalez get better, or is 2012 going to be his career year? Only time will tell. If he's got another gear to his game, however, he's going to get a trophy to celebrate hitting it.
8 - Kris Medlen
I'll be honest, I didn't know what to do with Medlen so I stuck him in the middle.
Medlen's 12-game stretch towards the end of the season is as dominant as you'll ever see a pitcher in today's game. If that's an indication of what's to come, then this ranking is low. But we're talking about a guy who's relieved more games than he's started. There are still some question marks there.
But talent isn't one of them.
7, 6, 5 - Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee
Pick a Phillie, any Phillie.
Look, they're all good and if they're all healthy, they are all legitimate aces and Cy Young contenders. If they make their starts and get some run support, it could be any of them.
You put them in order.
4 - Matt Cain
Cain established himself as the new leader of the Giants pitching staff and as a contender in his own right. His ceiling isn't as high as some of the other pitchers on this list but he's just as dominant once he gets on the mound. The Giants will be good again, and so will Cain.
3 - R.A. Dickey
Can he do it again?
Not only was it a career year for Dickey, but it was also the best season ever by a kunckleballer. It's going to be awfully tough to repeat, but he can do it.
2 - Clayton Kershaw
There's a solid argument that says Kershaw should have won last year and lost out to Dickey's story as much as anything else. I didn't say it, but people have. He's already got one and he's going to be a contender year after year, health permitting.
1 - Stephen Strasburg
Let's face it, if he had pitched the entire season without restrictions, he would have won the Cy Young award in 2012. The reigns are coming off next season.
Look out league.