Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The AL Cy Young Picture

As the regular season starts to wind down, postseason match-ups are not the only topic debated by both the experts and the fans. Who will receive what award starts to become a very heavily discussed matter around this time of year.

Today we turn to the American League Cy Young award.

This year's race can easily be narrowed down to just a handful of candidates. However, once you have your finalists picked, the task of separating the best becomes quite tricky.

The Favorites

Zack Greinke - Kansas City Royals
15-8, 2.08 ERA, 229 SO

Zack Greinke solidified his reputation as one of the American League's elite pitchers in 2009. He has always shown the ability to be a solid pitcher, but no one had expected him to be this good.

On a team which is now 25 games under .500, Greinke is on pace for 16 wins. He should also finish up the year around the 250 mark in strikeouts and he currently leads the league with his microscopic 2.08 ERA.

In addition, he managed to pitch six complete games.

The 25-year-old Greinke is a great story as well, as his stellar season has come just two years after he had to take time off from the game to battle his social anxiety syndrome and bout with depression.

Felix Hernandez - Seattle Mariners
16-5, 2.45 ERA, 196 SO

This would not be the first time that the young Seattle ace garnered positive attention, but it would be his first time receiving Cy Young type of attention.

Some of the experts believe that Hernandez actually has the advantage over Greinke due to a higher win total and a tougher division. In my opinion, those may not be the best reasons to take "King Felix", as he is affectionatly called by the Mariner faithful, over Greinke. However, if Hernandez was to win the award, it would be hard to argue against it.

2009 has certainly been Hernandez's best year, as he has set career highs in almost every major statistical category.

He ranks at least within the American League's top four in wins, earned run average, and strikeouts while logging well over 200 innings.

Perhaps With A Strong Finish...

CC Sabathia - New York Yankees
18-7, 3.31 ERA, 186 SO

Already 2007's AL Cy Young winner, Sabathia did not disappoint during the first season of his seven year, $161 million contract. The New York Yankees made it clear that Sabathia's responsiblity was to be a true ace of the staff and Sabathia did just that.

He currently leads the major leagues in wins with 18 and managed to pitch his way into at least the seventh inning during almost evey start, something not consistently done in this day and age.

While the Cy Young may be out of reach for this year, New York can at least be assured that they got a solid return on investment after CC's 2009 performance.

Justin Verlander - Detroit Tigers
16-9, 3.44 ERA, 245 SO

After a brutal 2008 (11-17, 4.84 ERA, 163 SO), Verlander returned back to form this year.

The Detroit ace leads the American League in strikeouts and has pitched three complete games.

If Verlander doesn't manage to take the Cy Young home with him this year, he can at least look forward to getting some consideration for the American League Comeback Player of the Year.

The Long Shot

Roy Halladay - Toronto Blue Jays
15-10, 3.01 ERA, 193 SO

Remember this guy?

It seems that after having a first half in which people could not stop talking about him (10-3, 2.85 ERA), Halladay cooled off a bit in the second half of the season (5-7, 3.21 ERA); particularly after numerous trade talks involving him kept popping up around the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, Halladay's end-of-season numbers should look very good, as they always do.

Despite Toronto's sub-par offense, Halladay managed to rack up 15 wins, while going the complete distance seven times.

Perhaps the Blue Jays will finally put an end to the 32-year-old Halladay's misery this offseason and finally ship him off to an actual contender. It would be awesome to see this guy go to work in the playoffs, don't you think?

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