Rob Neyer wrote a piece last week about the Cy Young award and how most voters for that award will not register a vote for a guy who is not among the league leaders in wins. He is right and many times a vote will be case for all the wrong reasons such as the win/loss record much like the MVP is almost always based on the homer/RBI combination. Some day, maybe, these awards will come to the modern age and stats such as WARP, PitchF/X and other factors will contribute to the awards. Zack Greinke might be having the type of season that will tip the scales. But that's a big, "might."
The way the season is shaping up so far, if the trends continue, C. C. Sabathia would probably win the most votes for Cy Young, especially with the recent struggles of Beckett and Halladay. And Sabathia has been worth every penny the Yankees paid for the guy. He hasn't often been spectacular, but he is a horse that goes out there every fifth day and pitches deep into the game and gives the Yankees a chance to win. There is no overstating his value to the Yankees' pitching staff and what his starts have meant to his team. But he isn't the right choice for Cy Young.
As it stands now, Zack Greinke should win the award. His problem is that he pitches for the Royals, the worst team in baseball. And unlike the year that Steve Carlton had with the Phillies when Carlton had a gaudy record despite his team coming in last place, Greinke figures at best to finish with a record around 15-10. Not especially pretty for a Cy Young winner. But in this Fan's figuring, the best pitcher...check that...the best starting pitcher in baseball should win the award regardless of record (no closer or other reliever with ninety innings or less should ever win the award).
And Greinke has clearly been the league's best pitcher. He leads the league in ERA, ERA+ and WHIP. He has a K/9 of 9.6 and a K/BB ratio of 5.05 to 1. Those are sick numbers by any standard. He also has the best homer per nine innings rate of 0.5. So he keeps the ball in the yard, he strikes out almost 10 per nine innings, while only walking 1.9. He allows less than a hit an inning. And he averages a little over seven innings a start. If the season ended right now, who would be better?
And what a season it could be if Greinke played for a decent team. He has six games started this year when he did not get a decision. The Royals lost every one of them. In those six games where he didn't get a decision, he gave up eleven runs, less than two per game. In his eight losses, he has given up 26 earned runs or a little over three a game. Most of those would have been wins on any other team. In fact, in his 27 starts, he has only given up four or more earned runs four times. So with little stretch of imagination, he easily could be 18-4 instead of 13-8.
The most telling statistic for Greinke is that in his 27 starts, his team has scored three or less runs seventeen times and he is still 13-8. Baseball Prospectus figures that under normal conditions, Greinke would finish with a 22-9 season. That's a Cy Young season, no?