In a vote that I strongly suspect foreshadows the BBWAA’s results (revealed Wednesday night at 6pm ET on MLB Network), Max Scherzer was declared NL Cy Young by the members of the IBWAA. The Nationals ace received 81 of 177 first place votes and was named on 169 ballots. My first thought is that that’s a nice number and my second is that eight voters didn’t even name him as a top-five NL pitcher. Oh well.
Interestingly enough, Jose Fernandez received 30 first-place votes, with Kyle Hendricks (20), Jon Lester (19), Clayton Kershaw (12) and Thor (10) rounding out the field. Lester and Hendricks clearly found themselves pretty near the top on a lot of ballots, though, as they ended up finishing second and third overall. I figured Scherzer would win based on the projections floating around, but I’m pretty surprised by the wide margin between him and the rest of the pack.
1st place: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals – 850 points
2nd place: Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs – 454
3rd place: Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs – 442
4th place: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins – 378
5th place: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets – 251
At the risk of opening up Pandora’s Box, I wonder how the timing of the voting impacted the outcome, specifically when it comes to Fernandez having so many #1 votes but still finishing fourth. I’ve got some thoughts on the matter, but this is neither the time nor the place to share them. I suppose it’s a conversation that can be had at another time or in a different medium, or maybe it’s one that should just be left un-had.
Back to Scherzer, who had an excellent season in DC. His 20 wins — as much as you might understand that pitcher wins are a poor measure of performance, you know darn well they still weigh heavily with most people — led the league, as did his 284 strikeouts and 228.1 innings pitched. He was in the top five in the NL in FIP (3.24) and xFIP (3.37) and his 2.96 ERA ranked eighth. Scherzer also ranked third in pitcher fWAR with 5.6.
I personally voted Hendricks and Lester in the top two spots, which I suppose could be construed as homerific bias. Then again, they were at or near the top of the league in several categories held in high esteem by both statheads and meatballs alike (I’d go into details, but, this being a Cubs site, I figure you already know their resumes). Hendricks was particularly impressive, performing his magic with sleight of hand and proving doubters wrong time and again. Similarly, Lester displayed great consistency and showed that the Cubs were indeed justified in handing him that big free agent deal.
What really cracks me up about the change in perception of the lefty is that Lester’s 2015 numbers were actually better pretty much across the board than what he posted this past season. Funny how perception changes when you don’t have someone else in the rotation putting up historic numbers. Both Lester and Hendricks will say that the other deserves this award, which may actually be why neither did or will win. Not that they have a say, but that voters could either be split between the two or that they’ll look elsewhere for a pitcher who more clearly separated himself from his immediate peers.
Oh, here’s the AL voting for those of you who are interested:
1st place: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians – 727 points
2nd place: Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox – 71
3rd place: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers – 454
4th place: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox – 383
5th place: Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles – 314
How would you have voted? Do you think the Cubs split the vote or was Max Scherzer really the better pitcher this season?