It is MLB 2020 Awards Week, and we continue with the Cy Young Award announcements that will be made tomorrow. We have our ideas of who should win, of course, which may be different than who actually does win the votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).
Here we go with our picks … hang on.
2020 AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber
Shane Bieber (Cleveland Indians), Kenta Maeda (Minnesota Twins) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (Toronto Blue Jays) are the finalists for the AL Cy Young Award. We are not fans of the way this works with “finalists” only these days, but whatever.
Maeda (6-1, 2.70 ERA, .0750 WHIP) has no business being a finalist here with his 1.6 WAR, which didn’t even put him in the Top 10 overall for MLB in 2020. He obviously had a stellar season, but his value was not there. Interestingly enough, both Maeda and Ryu pitched for the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers for their entire careers before this season.
While Bieber and Ryu finished atop MLB for pitching WAR (3.3 and 3.0, respectively), there were five better pitchers in the AL that deserved to be a finalist much more than Maeda: New York’s Gerrit Cole (2.2 WAR), Chicago’s Dallas Keuchel (2.1 WAR), Cleveland’s Zac Plesac (2.1 WAR), and Oakland’s Chris Bassitt (2.1 WAR). All pitched for postseason qualifiers, too.
In the end, it doesn’t matter, though, because Bieber should run away with the vote here: The Cleveland ace won the pitching Triple Crown as his team won 35 games to finish with the fourth-best mark in the AL. Bieber posted an 8-1 record with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts.
2020 NL Cy Young: Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer (Cincinnati Reds), Jacob deGrom (New York Mets) and Yu Darvish (Chicago Cubs) are the finalists for the NL Cy Young Award. NL pitchers dominated the season, in truth as eight of them finished in the MLB Top 10 for pitching WAR in 2020. But the three best NL pitchers in terms of value aren’t even finalists.
That’s right: Atlanta Braves starter Max Fried (2.9), Philadelphia Phillies hurler Zack Wheeler (2.8), and Colorado Rockies grinder Antonio Senzatela (2.8) brought the most value to the table in the 2020 NL season. The Rockies missed the playoffs by three games without really contending, so there’s that. But the Phillies were in the fray right until the final days.
Of course, the Braves won the NL East, too, so it was inexcusable for the voters to exclude Fried and Wheeler from their list of finalists. This really should be Fried’s award, and when our MLB Monday series arrives at 2020 someday, we will rectify this voting gaffe.
That being said, Bauer (2.7), deGrom (2.7), and Darvish (2.6) are what we get, currently. Right away, we can eliminate deGrom, as the Mets finished with the same record as the Rockies, and they were never really contenders for a postseason spot during the shortened regular season. So, that leaves us with this close comparison:
- Bauer: 5-4, 1.73 ERA, 100 Ks, 0.795 WHIP for 31-win Reds
- Darvish: 8-3, 2.01 ERA, 93 Ks, 0.961 WHIP for 34-win Cubs
Bauer was the better pitcher, although he lacked the run support that Darvish got from the Chicago lineup, clearly. The Cubs had a much higher payroll, too, and this was the Reds’ first trip to the postseason since 2013, while Chicago has been to October five time in the last six years.
We think that gives Bauer more value here, in general, and in another ironic twist, Bauer used to pitch for Cleveland with Bieber, in the same rotation. How is that for yet another 2020 oddity?
Stay tuned for more 2020 MLB awards analysis this week!