In today's game thread I said that the AL Cy Young race was pretty much down to Halladay, Santana and Verlander, but that's not accurate. I knew it wasn't accurate as soon as I said it. It was really stupid.
But looking over the numbers, it's really a tight race this year. You have two closers that have very good shots at winning the award because no starter besides Francisco Liriano has had a blowaway season, and Liriano only pitched 119 innings before he went down with the injury.
Here's what I figure are the top candidates:
IP ERA WHIP K W L SV J Santana 177 3.10 1.03 187 14 5 -- R Halladay 177 3.20 1.12 102 15 3 -- J Verlander 146 3.14 1.25 98 14 6 -- J Bonderman 165 3.69 1.18 159 11 5 -- M Mussina 165 3.54 1.09 148 13 5 -- F Liriano 119 2.19 1.01 142 12 3 1 J Papelbon 61 0.89 0.74 63 4 2 32 M Rivera 65 1.94 0.94 44 4 5 31
Santana: Leading the league in ERA and strikeouts, second to Halladay in wins, and has been the best pitcher in the league for the third straight year. If the numbers hold, he should win. But he should've won last year.
Halladay: His team being good helps him, but Santana's is better. Halladay might be the new Greg Maddux. The instinct because he's not a strikeout pitcher is to say he isn't dominant, the same as no one ever said, "Greg Maddux is dominant." They said, "Roger Clemens is dominant," or "Pedro Martinez is dominant," but never can I recall someone saying "Greg Maddux is dominant," unless it was something like I'm talking about right now. Of course Greg Maddux was dominant. He dominated. So does Halladay.
Verlander: Being on the best staff in baseball and among the top three in ERA is a boost, but not being a name yet will hurt him.
Bonderman: He's been the workhorse of the best staff in baseball. And really, how strange is it that it's late August and the Tigers are still the best staff in baseball? And by a lot, at that.
Mussina: Moose may have a shot because he's held the Yankee rotation together, he's an old guy that's never won anything, and he's having a hell of a good season, his best since 2003. Honestly, I thought Mussina's days as an upper echelon starter were totally over. In a way, I'm glad to have been wrong. I still like him. I hate his team.
Liriano: Doesn't really have a shot at all thanks to the injury, and not having spent the entire year in the rotation would've hurt anyway, but Liriano was electric. He might get back, he might not. If he does and he pitches well, the Twins could win the World Series on the backs of Morneau, Mauer, Santana, Liriano and the suddenly hot Brad Radke.
Papelbon: Eckersley won a Cy Young AND an MVP in 1992 with a season that was nowhere near what Papelbon is doing. Of course Eck also had a much better year than his CY/MVP year, when he put up that ridiculous 0.61 ERA over 73 innings in 1990. With no starters really sticking out from the pack, Papelbon could maybe sneak out a close Cy Young win.
Rivera: Sportswriters have had a boner to give Rivera a Cy Young for years. It could happen. It'd be horseshit, but what's new?