Top 2013 Cy Young Candidate From Each MLB Team
There’s a major trend growing in Major League Baseball today. Pitchers are starting to dominate the game, both on the field and off. Not only are we seeing baseball’s top aces preform like never before, but we are also seeing them get paid like never before.
Just six weeks after the Seattle Mariners gave Felix Hernandez the largest contract for a pitcher in MLB history, Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers topped King Felix’s deal with a seven-year, $180 million record-breaking contract. On the same day Verlander and the Tigers reached an agreement, last year’s NL MVP Award winner, Buster Posey, was given a nine-year, $167 million deal. Although Posey, who plays catcher for the San Francisco Giants, is four years younger than Verlander, he’s still making less money than Verlander.
So, what does this exactly tell us?
From starters to relievers, skilled pitchers are becoming the new hot ticket in town. Most MLB teams are either locking up their talented arms, or going out in free agency and signing All-Star hurlers to giant contracts.
With pitching now the new craze in baseball, I believe the Cy Young Award is becoming one of the most prestigious honors not in just baseball, but in all of sports. The amount of pitchers who are deserving of the Cy Young each year is at an all time high. Gone are the days where just one or two guys are competing for pitching’s top accolade.
I think the overall improved pitching is good for baseball. Sure, it might be more exciting to watch sluggers belt out home run after home run, but as baseball attempts to get away from the steroid era, the focus being shifted to pitching excellence could help.
As we near another season of MLB baseball that is sure to include more dominant pitching, it's time to start thinking of this year’s top Cy Young candidates.
With this in mind, here’s a list of all 30 MLB clubs best Cy Young Award candidates for 2013.
Arizona Diamondbacks- Brandon McCarthy
An offseason addition by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Brandon McCarthy is ready to take advantage of pitching in the National League for the first time in his career. The 6’7 right-hander posted a 3.24 ERA in 2012, which was a career best. If the Diamondbacks are to have a Cy Young winner in 2013, McCarthy will be the one taking home the hardware.
Atlanta Braves- Kris Medlen
If you don’t know the name Kris Medlen, you will soon enough. The 27-year-old will be a full time starter for the Atlanta Braves in 2013, and figures to be the future ace of the Braves rotation. Medlen went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 2012, but his incredible 5.22 strikeout to walk ratio is what makes him Atlanta’s top Cy Young candidate.
Baltimore Orioles- Jim Johnson
The Baltimore Orioles were arguably the biggest surprise in 2012. The Orioles won 93 games and reached the postseason for the first time since 1997. Not only did the O’s shock the baseball world last year, but their closer, Jim Johnson, did as well. Johnson, who had only 21 career saves coming into last year, went 51 for 54 in save opportunities, making him baseball’s saves leader in 2012. If the Orioles can once again win 90 plus games in 2013, Johnson may become the first American League closer to win the Cy Young since Dennis Eckersley captured the award back in 1992.
Boston Red Sox- Jon Lester
Both Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox suffered through the 2012 season. However, Lester and the Red Sox seem ready to regain their form from years past, and put together a successful 2013. Lester, who was recently given the Opening Day nod from new manager John Farrell, has had a very impressive spring. In his six Spring Training starts, the lefty is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Don’t be surprised if Lester is in the running for the AL Cy Young toward the end of the summer.
Chicago Cubs- Jeff Samardzija
The Chicago Cubs pitching staff struggled in 2012. With a 4.25 team ERA, the Cubs finished third to last in pitching in the National League a season ago. One of the few dominant arms on the Cubs staff is starter Jeff Samardzija. The former Notre Dame football star is the Cubs best chance for a Cy Young Award winner in 2013.
Chicago White Sox- Chris Sale
Chris Sale is one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball. In his first season as a starter last year, Sale won 17 games for the Chicago White Sox. If it wasn’t for a sluggish September, the lefty may have taken home the Cy Young Award. With a new long-term contract under his belt, plus the added confidence of being named the Sox Opening Day starter, Sale is a front-runner to win the Cy Young this year.
Cincinnati Reds- Aroldis Chapman
Although it was rumored that Aroldis Chapman would be moved into the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation, the 25-year-old hurler will remain the Reds closer. Chapman, who hits triple digits on the radar gun on a regular basis, will look to improve on his 38 saves from a season ago. If the lefty’s arm holds up, expect Chapman to compete for the NL Cy Young Award in 2013.
Cleveland Indians- Ubaldo Jimenez
In his six years with the Colorado Rockies, Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the league’s most feared right-handers. With a record of 56-45, to go along with a 3.66 ERA, Jimenez enjoyed his time with the Rockies. However, since the 29-year-old starter was traded to the Cleveland Indians back in 2011, he hasn’t been able to continue his early career success. As an Indian, Jimenez is 13-21 with a dismal 5.32 ERA. If the tall righty can find his old form in 2013, he may be the only bright spot on a below average Indians staff.
Colorado Rockies- Jhoulys Chacin
The Colorado Rockies finished dead last in pitching a season ago, and in all honesty, they really don’t have a true Cy Young candidate. That being said, their young starter, Jhoulys Chacin, could evolve into their future ace. The 25-year-old hurler will begin the 2013 season as Colorado’s number one, and will look to become the first Rockie to win the Cy Young Award.
Detroit Tigers- Justin Verlander
Five-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner, AL MVP, Rookie of The Year. Do I need to say much more? It’s obvious Detroit Tigers’ starter Justin Verlander is one of the MLB’s top pitchers. Every year the right-hander is in the AL Cy Young race, and I don't expect this season to be any different. If the Cy Young Award is headed to Motown, Verlander will be the one receiving it.
Houston Astros- Bud Norris
To say the Houston Astros are in a rebuilding stage would be a massive understatement. The Astros are changing leagues in 2013, and many have already penciled them in as MLB’s worst team for this year. However, the Astros have a few players who have the ability to break out this season. Bud Norris, the Astros Opening Day starter, is certainly one of these guys. With a career 8.83 K/9 ratio, Norris has the talent to compete for a Cy Young at some point in his career.
Kansas City Royals- James Shields
The Kansas City Royals are many people’s dark horse to make a playoff run this year. James Shields, brought in by the Royals this offseason, is a big reason why. For the first time since Zach Greinke left, the Royals have a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Shields. The 31-year-old right-hander has won 15 plus games in back-to-back seasons, and if the Royals are in fact in the playoff hunt come September, expect Shields to also be in the Cy Young race.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- Jered Weaver
Coming into the 2013 season, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim offense seems to be getting all of the hype. With the addition of slugger Josh Hamilton to an offense that finished first in the MLB a season ago, it’s easy to see why. However, the team’s ace, Jered Weaver, deserves just as much praise as the Angels’ explosive offensive attack is getting. Weaver led the entire league in WHIP in 2012, and he also recorded 20 victories. With the additional run support Weaver figures to get this year, he is one of the AL’s top Cy Young Award candidates.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Clayton Kershaw
Already a Cy Young Award winner back in 2011, Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty Clayton Kershaw will look to capture his second Cy Young in 2013. With some of the nastiest off-speed stuff in the game, Kershaw has the ability to shut down an entire MLB lineup every time he toes the rubber. His career 2.79 ERA and 1.14 WHIP are two more reasons why he is a front-runner to win the NL Cy Young Award year in and year out.
Miami Marlins- Steve Cishek
Although the whole Heath Bell disaster last year may have been very difficult for Miami Marlins fans to watch, it did allow for the emergence of Steve Cishek. After Bell was finally pulled as the Marlins closer, Cishek filled in and went 15 for 19 in save opportunities with a 2.69 ERA. The right-hander also pitched for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic, where he didn’t surrender a hit in four appearances. Cishek seems like he has what it takes to be an elite MLB closer, and he’s the Marlins best chance for a Cy Young winner in 2013.
Milwaukee Brewers- Yovani Gallardo
Yovani Gallardo quietly has had an outstanding start to his MLB career. The 27-year-old has pitched six years for the Milwaukee Brewers, and has a combined 69-43 record with a 3.66 ERA. Gallardo has also shown some durability with the Brewers by starting 30 plus games the past four seasons. If he can improve on his already impressive career with the Brew Crew, Gallardo could be a dark horse to win the NL Cy Young in 2013.
Minnesota Twins- Vance Worley
Just 25-years-old, Vance Worley is the future of the Minnesota Twins’ rotation. 2013 will be his first year in Minnesota, and he is already the team’s number one. I fully expect Worley to not only be a household name in Minnesota, but also in the whole MLB at some point. Don’t be shocked if the righty is up for a Cy Young Award this year or the next.
New York Mets- Jon Niese
With R.A. Dickey gone, Jon Niese is the new leader of the New York Mets’ pitching staff. Niese went 13-9 with a 1.17 WHIP in 2012. Although the Mets figure to have another tough year in 2013, Niese should have another productive season, and could even battle for the NL Cy Young Award.
New York Yankees- Mariano Rivera
Yes he’s coming off major knee surgery, and yes he’s 43-years-old. But come on, it’s Mariano Rivera. The New York Yankees’ long-time closer has already announced that 2013 will be his last year in the MLB. Having accomplished just about everything else a baseball player can throughout his 18-year career, it only seems fitting that Rivera wins his first Cy Young in his last season.
Oakland Athletics- Jarrod Parker
In his first season as a full time MLB starter in 2012, Jarrod Parker showed why he was a first round pick back in 2007. With a 3.47 ERA, the right-hander finished 11th in the AL in ERA. Just 24-years-old, Parker is set to break out this year, and possibly win a Cy Young for the Oakland Athletics.
Philadelphia Phillies- Cole Hamels
Finishing in the top five in the NL in wins, strikeouts, complete games and shutouts, Cole Hamels was a workhorse for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. The lefty has been a league leader his entire career, and 2013 could be the year he wins his first Cy Young Award.
Pittsburgh Pirates- A.J. Burnett
The switch back to the NL was kind to A.J. Burnett last season. In his first year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Burnett won 16 games and posted a 3.51 ERA. With Burnett getting the opportunity to start on Opening Day for the first time in his career, he figures to have some boosted confidence heading into the year. The right-hander will look to become just the 3rd Pirate to win the Cy Young in 2013.
San Diego Padres- Huston Street
An All-Star in 2012, Huston Street was excellent in his first season with the San Diego Padres. Going 23 for 24 in save opportunities, Street was automatic in the 9th. I believe the Padres will actually surprise some people and win 80 plus games in 2013, meaning Street will have the chance to save a lot of ballgames. Street has the ability to not only lead the league in saves this year, but also capture the NL Cy Young.
San Francisco Giants- Matt Cain
2012 was a great year for Matt Cain. He not only won his second World Series trophy, but he also pitched a perfect game and was an All-Star. With an amazing 1.04 WHIP and a 2.79 ERA, it’s easy to see why Cain was so successful with the San Francisco Giants last year. Although I don’t think Cain will be able to throw another perfect game in 2013, I do believe he has a chance of winning the NL Cy Young.
Seattle Mariners- Felix Hernandez
Simply put, Felix Hernandez is really good. The righty had five shutouts in 2012, which was top in the AL. Hernandez also had a HR/9 ratio of just 0.5. If the Seattle Mariners’ offense can provide their ace with some run support in 2013, King Felix may take home his second Cy Young Award.
St. Louis Cardinals- Adam Wainwright
The St. Louis Cardinals recently gave their star pitcher Adam Wainwright a new long-term deal, and I believe he’s ready to thank the Cardinals in a big way this year. Not only do I expect Wainwright to win 15 plus games this season, but also see him challenging for the Cy Young. The 31-year-old has been close to winning the Cy Young before with a 3rd place finish in 2009 and a 2nd place finish in 2010. I think this could finally be the year Wainwright gets the award.
Tampa Bay Rays- David Price
There really isn’t much doubt which pitcher is the Tampa Bay Rays top Cy Young candidate. David Price, winner of the Cy Young a season ago, is one of the game’s top hurlers and he’s the Rays best chance of a Cy Young Award winner in 2013. The lefty shut down basically the whole AL last year, leading the league in both ERA and wins. If the AL Cy Young is headed to the Sunshine State once again this season, Price will have to make room on his mantle for yet another trophy.
Texas Rangers- Yu Darvish
The Texas Rangers have never had a Cy Young Award winner. If 2013 is the year they get their first, Yu Darvish will be the man taking home the hardware. In his first season in the MLB, Darvish showed why so many teams wanted the Japanese star. With 16 wins and over 220 strikeouts, Darvish impressed in his rookie campaign. All signs point to the Rangers starter repeating his success from a season ago.
Toronto Blue Jays- Brandon Morrow
I might be a little crazy for not picking R.A. Dickey, who won the NL Cy Young in 2012, as the Toronto Blue Jays top Cy Young Award candidate, but it has shown that pitchers who go from the NL to the AL tend to struggle in their first year. For this reason, I believe Brandon Morrow is the Blue Jays top hurler this season. Don’t think I’m just picking Morrow because I think Dickey will falter, however. Morrow, who posted a 2.96 ERA in 21 starts last year, is very capable of winning 20 games in 2013. Although many may think of Dickey as the Jays’ ace, I wouldn’t sleep on Morrow.
Washington Nationals- Stephen Strasburg
With an incredibly strange ending to his 2012 year, Stephen Strasburg figures to be more than ready to get back out on the mound. Just 24-years-old, Strasburg is already one of the top arms in the MLB. If the Washington Nationals let him finish the season this year, expect Strasburg to be in the NL Cy Young talks.