Top 5 Early Candidates for AL Cy Young Award

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Top 5 Early AL Cy Young Candidates

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The AL Cy Young is one of the most coveted awards in all of baseball. Looking at the list of American League winners of the award, each pitcher brought something different to the table. Whether it was based on wins, ERA or strikeouts, each winner of the award deserved it just as much as the next guy.

American League pitchers sometimes have a better reputation than do National League pitchers. In the AL, pitchers have to worry about the dreaded designated hitter -- usually a guy with either top-notch power or exemplary batting prowess in different ways.

Last year, the Cy Young award was won by David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. The criteria that they judged the award off of was his stellar ERA to go along with an impressive 20-5 record. Each year, the winner seems to be judged off of different criteria. For example, in 2010, Felix Hernandez won the award with a 13-12 record, showing that having a tremendous record isn't necessarily something you can base a CY Young candidate off of. The Seattle Mariners couldn't score runs for King Felix, and therefore, he was left with 12 losses -- the most of any Cy Young winner since 1976.

In fact, since 1998, no pitcher who has won the AL Cy Young Award has had more than eight losses besides Hernandez. The last two winners, Price and Justin Verlander, have boasted a combined 44-10 record and 2.56 and 2.40 ERAs, respectively. It was the way Hernandez was pitching that got him the award. He packed the stadium every time he took the mound. He threw a perfect game and just dominated hitters, earning himself a sparkling 2.27 ERA.

In my opinion, this award really does go to the best pitcher in the league. Other awards, such as MVP, judge a player's chances of winning the award based on team success. This award focuses on the most deserving candidate, regardless of overall team success.

It's still relatively early in the 2013 season, but I have compiled a list of my top-five AL Cy Young candidates. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics

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Bartolo Colon has the second-most wins in the American League with 12 and his ERA is also pretty impressive. Boasting a 2.69 mark with two complete game shutouts is pretty impressive for a 40-year-old pitcher in today's game.

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4. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

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Having the eighth-best record in the American League is impressive, but having the most strikeouts in baseball is even more impressive. Yu Darvish is only in his second season and the 26-year old Japanese product has already become one of the best pitchers in the league. He has a 3.02 ERA, 8-4 record and 157 strikeouts.

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3. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

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Chris Sale has become one of the top pitchers in baseball and a household name in the past couple of seasons. The 2013 campaign has been no different for the Chicago White Sox ace, posting a 2.85 ERA and 131 strikeouts. The only thing that might hold Sale back, but shouldn't, is his 6-8 record. The White Sox simply can't score for him, similar to King Felix a few years back.

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2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

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One of two former winners of the award on this list, Colon being the other, King Felix is having yet another stellar season. He ranks second in the AL with a 2.69 ERA and his 136 strikeouts puts him in the top-five. His record won't be an issue this season, either, as he's the proud owner of a 9-4 mark.

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1. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

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Max Scherzer has matched all of the criteria of a Cy Young winner to perfection. He's 13-0 with a 3.06 ERA and 147 strikeouts. Scherzer is having the best season of possibly any pitcher in baseball and has become a household name.