Hello again, HHS readers! We’ve done our big award in the NL – the MVP. We’ve seen the AL Cy Young. And we’ve even voted on our minor awards (rookie and manager) in both leagues. It’s time for a trip back to the senior circuit and to pick the league’s best pitcher!
In the NL, we started with a blistering first half by a West Coast pitcher finally having a breakthrough year. After playing only partial seasons for the last four years (including sitting out 2015 entirely), Hyun-Jin Ryu paced the NL with a 2.32 ERA and 179 ERA+. He gave up 2 or fewer earned runs in each of his first FIFTEEN starts, a run yielding a 9-1 record and 1.27 ERA. Ryu cooled off a bit in the second half (how could he not?), but nevertheless was effective enough to merit strong consideration for this year’s award.
The opposite was true for Cardinal Jack Flaherty, who allowed a total of only 7 earned runs over his final 12 appearances, compiling a 0.77 ERA in 82 IP for August and September. Flaherty’s pitching genius helped the Cards to a division crown, overtaking the Cubs and holding off the streaking Brewers (you knew I’d get in a reference somehow!). Flaherty’s full-season 0.968 WHIP was also tops in the league.
The Nationals posted three strong contenders: Max Scherzer (243 strikeouts in only 172 innings!); Stephen Strasburg (league-best 18-6 record); and Patrick Corbin (141 ERA+). The former two are certainly deserving of consideration as the league’s top pitcher, while the latter was really only the third-best pitcher on his team (but this was certainly the team to be on for that accolade!).
Speaking of teammates, Ryu’s teammate Walker Buehler also deserves more than a mention, following up last year’s 3rd place RoY season (behind phenoms Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto) with another solid campaign, posting a league-best .778 winning percentage (14-4), and third best marks for FIP (3.01) and SO/BB (5.81).
Mike Soroka of Atlanta (169 ERA+, second in NL), Sonny Gray of Cincinnati (.196 batting average against, second in NL), and maybe even perennial candidate Clayton Kershaw (nothing spectacular, but solid numbers across the board) are others who may merit some down-ballot consideration.
But the big question is whether last year’s winner, Jacob deGrom, can pull off the repeat. Finishing 11-8 with a league best 255 strikeouts and second ranked ERA (2.43), FIP (2.67) and WHIP (0.971), deGrom again pitched splendidly for the struggling Mets. Will his effectiveness again be enough to overcome an underwhelming W-L record? That’s for you (and also the actual Cy Young voters) to decide!
Rules: Vote by making a comment below and numbering your choices with 1 being the MOST preferred candidate, and 5 being your LEAST preferred candidate of your five choices. Your ballots will be EXACTLY five places, just as the BBWAA does. You must vote for 5 players. Scoring will be 7-4-3-2-1, just as the BBWAA does. You are not required to vote in all elections; only vote in the ones you would like to vote in. You may make vote changes, if the discussion so moves you. If you change your vote, please do so in a new comment, not as a reply to your original comment (it’s a lot easier to find new comments than replies to old ones). Please don’t vote strategically; we’re trying to get the best result, not to manipulate the vote totals based on what others have done. Voting will remain open about one week. When players are tied, tiebreakers go as follows: first tiebreaker is number of ballots on which players were named; second tiebreaker is highest placement on a ballot; third tiebreaker is the first player to be named (as this usually only happens when a bunch of players are tied for last). Results will be posted when balloting closes.