The Cy Young Award was introduced in 1956 and named after Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young who died in 1955. It was originally given to the best pitcher in the majors, but that changed in 1967 and the award was given to one pitcher from each league.
Here are some fun Cy Young award facts.
Don Newcombe was the very first winner. In 1974 Mike Marshall became the first relief pitcher to win the award. In 1985 20 year old Dwight Gooden became the youngest recipient of the award, and on the other end of the spectrum 42 year old Roger Clemens became the oldest person to recieve the award in 2004. Clemens also holds the record for most wins with 7. Finally the Marlins, Nationals, Rangers, Reds & Rockies are the only teams to not have a pitcher win the award.
So who will be in the running for the Cy Young award in 2014?
1. Clayton Kershaw – Unless you’ve been living under a rock there no need to go into detail why Kershaw is listed. He’s the king of the mountain until someone comes along and kicks him off.
2. Craig Kimbrel – He may have to wait until Kershaw signs with the AL, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to give it his all. His numbers this year mirror what Eric Gange put up in 2003 when he won the award, and Kimbrel is just as good as Dennis Eckersley in his prime. If Kershaw falters Kimbrel is one of the top contenders. C.K. vs C.K.
3. Felix Hernandez – He’s usually overlooked due to lack of wins, but Seattle seems hell-bent on winning this year. The addition of Cano & Hart should get that total up to at least 16, and with an additional bat Hernandez could be a 19 game winner.
4. Yu Darvish – Just like King Felix Yu needs some more wins, but in this case it’s Fielder to the rescue. Darvish should be able to repeat or improve upon his 2013 numbers and the Texas offence (which is still shopping for bats) will be behind him this time around.
1. Yu Darvish – Have you seen the deltoids on this guy? Darvish simplified his pitch mix in 2013 (particularly in the 2nd half of the season), becoming more of a fastball/slider guy; the results were terrific. I expect similar results to last year, but with more Ws.
2. Max Scherzer – Wow Jeff’s really going out on a limb here. What stands out for me with Scherzer is that even though his 2013 velocity was a tick down from 2012, he continued to grow as a pitcher. His HR/FB% was down, as was his BB%. I expect a small tick down in K%, but a more substantial decline in BB%.
3. Clayton Kershaw – Nothing to say that you don’t already know. Hard to believe he is only entering his age 26 season. Room for growth with improved facial hair; my recommendation: chevron mustache.
4. Zack Greinke – With his sparring days hopefully behind him, a full season of Greinke on the Dodgers has a chance to result in a Cy Young. Unsurprising fact: the less he pitches in Milwaukee the lower his HR/FB%.
1. Felix Hernandez – 2013 might have been Hernandez’ best year yet. Career high 9.5 K/9, career low 2.0 BB/9 as well as xFIP of 2.66. At just 27 years old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Felix won a Cy Young with just 13 wins in 2010, proving that he could win the award while languishing in relative obscurity in Seattle. All that changes next year in Seattle and Hernandez wins 19 games, strikes out 215 with a 2.90 ERA.
2. Anibal Sanchez – The Tigers come close to having their 3rd different pitcher win the Cy Young in 3 consecutive years. Anibal put it all together in 2013, but he missed a few starts and finished with just 14 wins. No one was beating Scherzer in 2013 for the award, but Sanchez put up insane numbers of his own. 10 K/9, 2.91 xFIP and a 6.2 WAR. It turns out that 2013 was just a prelude of things to come as he wins 20, strikes out 220 with a 3.05 ERA in 2014.
3. Zack Greinke – Great pitcher, great team, great ballpark = expected great season. While Greinke’s 2013 will be remembered for lowering his shoulder, he put up good numbers in his first season with the Dodgers. While his K% dropped, he maintained his great control and finished the season 15-4/2.63. His second half numbers were incredible: .211 BAA, 22 K%, 4.2 K/BB. Look for Greinke to be healthy and dominant in 2014: 18 W, 200 K, 2.65 ERA
4. Cliff Lee – I’d love to give my 4th nomination to Gerrit Cole, but Lee gets the nod for me. Lee has been one of the most consistent, dominant starting pitchers over the past six years. A strike out per inning and just over a walk per 9IP usually lends itself to great results. Lee finished 2013 with a 14-8 record, but his combined line from his last 3 losses was 23IP 16H 6ER 1BB 27K. Lee had some ups and downs in 2013, yet he bested Kershaw in K/9, BB/9 and xFIP. Look for some luck to turn his way in 2014. 17 W 200 K 2.90 ERA
1. Clayton Kershaw – Duh. He is the best pitcher in baseball and he is plays for a team likely to win the division. If Kershaw gets a little run support this year, he has a chance to win 20 games and make this an open and shut case.
2. Jordan Zimmermann – There are many NL pitchers I would rather own than Zimmermann for fantasy purposes, but he pitches deep into games and was able to win 19 last year for a struggling Nats team. If the Nats are able to get things together this year, Zimmermann could be a top Cy Young candidate.
3. Max Scherzer/Justin Verlander – The AL Cy Young is most likely to stay in Detroit. The Tigers defense just got a lot better by adding Iglesias and trading Fielder, but the offense should still be among the best in the league. Whichever pitcher of these two wins more games will likely be your AL Cy Young winner.
4. David Price – Where will Price pitch in 2014? I am not sure, but if he lands in LA or Seattle, he could be primed for a Cy Young type season. remaining in Tampa Bay likely won’t help his chances.
1. Yu Darvish – I’m excited that there’s a chance we’ll see another 300 K season. Darvish is the one who could pull it off, and there isn’t much competition for the 2014 AL Cy Young. If he ever gets the BB/9 under 3.0, we’re looking at a season for the ages.
2. Cliff Lee – The only way he doesn’t win Cy Young is if (A) he gets traded to AL, basically killing any chances of the award, or (B) someone pulls off a ridiculous season, like Kershaw in 2013. This guy has an insane K/BB ratio. He should win one more before he fades.
3. Madison Bumgarner – This kid is a top-10 SP, hands down. He was overshadowed by Cain at first as he developed, and now he’s overshadowed by Kershaw, but he’s fully capable of winning a few Cy Young awards in his career.
4. Clayton Kershaw – Okay, it’s pretty obvious the only thing stopping Kershaw is his arm falling off from all the innings he’s pitched already in his young career. But of all the pitchers in the majors right now, I feel he’s the most likely to pull a Maddux, winning four consecutive Cy Young awards.
4 Cy Young candidates, not named Yu Darvish or Clayton Kershaw
1. David Price – A move to the Pacific Northwest could bump his value up even more, but his post-DL numbers showed that he is still a dominant pitcher.
2. Jon Lester – This is the year that Lester puts it together for an entire season, his postseason domination was just the beginning.
3. Jose Fernandez – What can Fernandez do to follow-up on his impressive rookie campaign? A little more run support equals a few more wins, and could mean the start of a streak of dominant seasons.
4. Stephen Strasburg – The Nationals are rising and Strasburg is the ace who will take them to the next level.
Well it’s pretty obvious that Kershaw will
run away with be in the running for the NL Cy Young Award and Yu Darvish is the front-runner to win the AL Cy Young award. Detroit’s pitching staff also garners some attention with Scherzer, Sanchez and Verlander, and Felix Hernandez rounds out the pitchers who are favored to win in the AL. In the NL Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke will be the guys to watch should Kershaw falter and are both capable of stepping up to the task. The one name not mentioned that appeared on multiple lists is David Price. With trade talks swirling around it is unclear which division he will be in come spring time; what is clear is that he is someone to keep an eye on.