Tonight, the Chicago Cubs have a chance to repeat as the Cy-Young-Havers of the National League, with Jake Arrieta having won in 2015, and Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester finalists this year. Last year’s win was entirely deserved by Arrieta, who had a historic season, but it was also hard-fought. Teammates Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw each had incredible years, and those three were clearly at the top of the pack.
This year, by contrast, had as many as eight or nine plausible Cy Young contenders, and, while the three finalists are Hendricks, Lester, and Max Scherzer, I’m expecting the voting to be all over the place. I’d be surprised if there is a huge gap between one and two, or even between three and eight in the voting. The top two pitchers by WAR in the NL – Noah Syndergaard and the late Jose Fernandez – are not even finalists, which tells you something about this year.
Among the finalists, it’s tough to say who should clearly be the winner. Scherzer leads in WAR, Hendricks leads in ERA, and Lester is ahead of each of them in various other categories.
Scherzer: 228.1 IP, 20-7, 2.96 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 3.37 xFIP, 31.5% K rate, 6.2% BB rate, 5.6 WAR
Hendricks: 190.0 IP, 16-8, 2.13 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 3.59 xFIP, 22.8% K rate, 5.9% BB rate, 4.5 WAR
Lester: 202.2 IP, 19-5, 2.44 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 3.47 xFIP, 24.8% K rate, 6.5% BB rate, 4.3 WAR
I think when considering everything, it would come down to Hendricks and Scherzer for me. And, although I do think Hendricks deserves much of the credit for his sparkling ERA thanks to his ability to limit hard contact and induce weak contact, I also think the Cubs’ historic defense does have to factor into how much we weight ERA. Scherzer’s ERA is still quite strong, and his FIP/xFIP are right there with Hendricks. Because Scherzer did what he did over nearly 30 additional innings, then, I’d have to give my vote to Scherzer.
THAT SAID, I really could make the case for any of these three (and, as I said, several more pitchers, too). It was just that kind of year. If Hendricks or Lester win over Scherzer, I won’t be shocked, and I will think that, too, was well-deserved.
The results will be announced tonight on MLB Network during a program that begins at 5pm CT.