Thursday, November 08, 2018

Hypothetical Ballot: Cy Young

The AL Cy Young race is extremely close due to the two candidates who appeared to be battling it out for the award much of the season missing significant time in the second half. Despite their injuries, Chris Sale and Trevor Bauer had logged enough innings preventing enough runs on a rate basis to still be legitimate contenders in the end. Justin Verlander and Blake Snell each tied with 74 RAR based on actual runs allowed adjusted for bullpen support, an eight run lead over Sale in third. But when you look at metrics based on eRA (based on “components”) and dRA (based on DIPS concepts), Sale, Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Gerrit Cole all cut into that gap.

In fact, using a crude weighting of 50% RA-based, 25% eRA-based, and 25% dRA-based RAR, there are six pitchers separated by seven RAR. A seventh, Mike Clevinger, had 65 standard RAR but worse peripherals to drop four runs behind the bottom of that pack.

There are any number of reasonable ways to fill out one’s ballot, but I think the best choice for across-the-board excellence is Verlander. He pitched just one fewer inning than league leader Kluber, tied for the league lead in standard RAR, was second one run behind Kluber in eRA-based RAR, and was third by five runs to Sale in dRA-based RAR. Chris Sale sneaks into second for me as he led across the board in RA; even pitching just 158 innings, seventeen fewer than even Bauer, his excellence allowed him to accrue a great deal of value. Snell and the Indians round out my ballot; I’ve provided the statistics I considered below as evidence of how close this is:

1. Justin Verlander, HOU
2. Chris Sale, BOS
3. Blake Snell, TB
4. Corey Kluber, CLE
5. Trevor Bauer, CLE

The NL race is not nearly as close, as Jacob deGrom was second in innings (by just three to Max Scherzer) and led in all of the RA categories, plus Quality Start % and probably a whole bunch of equally suspect measures of performance.

Behind him I see no particular reason to deviate from the order suggested by RAR; Scherzer over Aaron Nola is an easy choice due to the former’s superior peripherals, and while Patrick Corbin had superior peripherals to Kyle Freeland, the latter’s 13 RAR lead is a lot to ignore, although Corbin should be recognized for having an eRA and dRA quite similar to Max Scherzer and otherwise lapping the rest of the field. With the exception of course of Jacob deGrom, the author a season that is worthy of considerable discussion in the next installment of “meaningless hypothetical award ballots”:

1. Jacob deGrom, NYN
2. Max Scherzer, WAS
3. Aaron Nola, PHI
4. Kyle Freeland, COL
5. Patrick Corbin, ARI

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