By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on August 13, 2014
Even though there is still a month and a half to go until the end of the 2014 MLB season, it is never too early to look ahead to the awards. One of the more intriguing award races is that of the American League Cy Young. As of right now, it is a very tight race as the most talented starting pitchers definitely reside in the AL. Here’s a power ranking of the top 10 candidates this season.
Max Scherzer is going to have to work some magic on the mound if he wants to be a repeat winner of the AL Cy Young Award. Although his 13-4 record, 3.13 ERA and 182 strikeouts are impressive, the numbers still don’t stack up quite as good to the other candidates on this list. It will be interesting to see if he becomes the first AL pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs in 14 years.
The Oakland Athletics have the most impressive starting rotation of any team in baseball. Scott Kazmir is partially responsible for that accolade as his 13-4 record and 2.73 ERA are a big part of why the Athletics are the only team in the league to have over 70 wins.
Yu Darvish has been nothing but outstanding since signing with the Texas Rangers in 2012. The right-hander’s numbers would be more Cy Young worthy if the Rangers weren’t sitting 25 games under .500, but nonetheless, he has put together a fine season so far. Darvish currently leads the AL in strikeouts per nine innings (11.3). Plus, his 3.6 wins above replacement and 3.71 strikeout to walk ratio are rather impressive.
Do you remember how I said Oakland has the best rotation in baseball? Well, Sonny Gray is just another reason why that statement is accurate. The right-hander is 12-6 with a 2.86 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 157 1/3 innings. Mind you, this is technically his first full season in the big leagues after appearing in just 12 games (10 starts) last season.
The Los Angeles Angels have a comfortable lead in the AL Wild Card thanks in large part to the success of Garret Richards. The 26-year-old is having by far his best season in the majors in 2014. He ranks in the top seven in the AL in wins (12), ERA (2.54), wins above replacement (4.1), strikeouts (157) and innings pitched (159 2/3). There’s no question he will get Cy Young votes. At this point, it’s just a matter of how many.
Corey Kluber has been one of the lone bright spots for the Cleveland Indians this season. In his first year as a full-time starter, the right-hander has set career highs in wins (13), ERA (2.46), strikeouts (187) and innings pitched (171.2). Even more impressive is that he has thoroughly dominated the competition in his last seven starts, which means he’s getting stronger as the season goes on.
Chris Sale seems to have a hard time garnering the respect of the baseball world. For the third straight season, he continues to put up jaw-dropping numbers. However, it took a final vote to get him to the All-Star Game this year. Sale currently ranks second in the league in ERA (2.01) and wins above replacement (5.3). A big knock on him is that his innings pitched and win numbers are lower than the other candidates.
No starter in the AL has tossed more innings (185 1/3) than David Price has this season. Even more impressive is that he leads the league in strikeouts (205) and he’s third in strikeout to walk ratio (7.88). The left-hander is off to a rocky start in two outings since being traded to the Detroit Tigers. However, pitching for a contender should allow him to raise his level of play down the stretch.
It’s certainly weird seeing Jon Lester in an Athletics uniform, but I can’t imagine the ace minds being traded to the best team in baseball. Lester took a very good starting rotation and made it great. If he can lead Oakland to its first World Series title since 1989, he absolutely deserves to be in the final running for the Cy Young Award. Even more noteworthy is that Lester is having arguably his best season in the majors.
When it comes down to it, Felix Hernandez is in a class by his own. “King Felix” continues outdo himself each season, which makes him that much more remarkable of a player. The right-hander leads the AL in wins (13), ERA (1.95), wins above replacement (6.0) and WHIP (0.86). If the season ended today, there’s no question he would be crowned the Cy Young Award winner.
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