Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Can Stephen Strasburg win the Cy Young Award?

Stephen Strasburg has now pitched 127+ innings. If he has a 160 inning pitched limit and goes six innings per start, he should have five to six starts left. If his limit is extended to 180 innings, he has eight starts left. With a record of 12-5, he could win anywhere from three to five more games to give him a total between 15 and 17 wins. But we all know that wins and losses are old school and most CY voters have broadened their horizens. Thank goodness. But what stat will the voters hang their hat on?

No pitcher in the National League is running away from the field. There is no Halladay compiling big numbers or Kershaw that is blowing away the field. If you go by WAR, you have a muddled mess. Dickey of the Mets and Cueto of the Reds lead the National League in fWAR with 3.9. They are followed closely by Kershaw, Greinke and Gio Gonzalez with 3.8. Strasburg is right behind them at 3.7. Greinke is gone to the American League, so you can forget about him.

With WAR being of little help, will the voters go to other numbers? How about FIP, for example? Greinke leads that category, but again, he's gone. So it won't be him. Here are the FIP leaders:

  • Greinke - 2.51
  • Strasburg - 2.68
  • Gonzalez - 2.69
  • Dickey - 2.88
  • Kershaw - 2.90

Strasburg and his teammate have the edge so far if that stat is the edge maker. Then there is xFIP. Here are the leaders in that category:

  • Strasburg - 2.70
  • Greinke - 2.79
  • Wainwright - 3.00 (surprise!)
  • Dickey - 3.08
  • Gonzalez - 3.16

That seems to give Strasburg the edge in two important stats. He is also the leader in SIERA and is second to Kershaw in tERA. What else can we look at? Well, if you like strikeouts per nine innings, Strasburg leads the world in that category at 11.31. His teammate is closest at 10.02. How about strikeout to walk ratio? Strasburg is third behind the Phillies' Blanton and Lee. Well it was the Phillies' Blanton, but he is on the Dodgers and has given up too many homers to merit consideration. Lee might finish with seven wins, so forget that.

A lot will be determined by the home stretch. Cueto and Kershaw's teams are fighting for division leads. If both win several times down the stretch, they could overtake Strasburg if he is indeed shut down. Dickey is the emotional favorite and his record is pretty spectacular. But he has faded some since the All Star Break and must finish really big to have a chance. Gonzalez will not be shut down, of course, and needs to come up big for the Nats down the stretch. If he does that, he'll have an excellent shot.

But if Stephen Strasburg finishes out with his current statistics and finishes say, 16-6, and Kershaw, Gonzales and Cueto are not dominant down the stretch, Strasburg has an excellent chance to win the award despite having to be shut down before the season is over.


Bill Miller said...

Whoever finishes hot in September will win the award. For that reason, it's doubtful that Strasburg will win it, though I'm sure he'll have plenty of opportunities in coming years.

Francisco Serrano said...

CBS made a case for Kimbrel and Chapman, bet you would love a reliever to win it...

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

No, a relief pitcher should never win the Cy Young Award. There is no way the value of 70 innings is greater than the value of 200+.