The way things stand now, Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay are Zack Greinke’s only legitimate competition for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award. Taking a look at the stats, Greinke is the clear cut favorite to win the award despite playing on an awful team. Now is a perfect time to break each of their seasons down since all three have made 20 starts and are within 1.2 innings pitched of one another.
Roy Halladay: 141.0 innings pitched with an 11-3 record, 2.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 164 ERA+. He has struck out 123 and walked 20 while opponents have hit 0.243 against him.
Felix Hernandez: 139.2 innings pitched with an 11-3 record, 2.45 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 173. He has struck out 137 and walked 38 while opponents have hit 0.225 against him.
Zack Greinke: 141.1 innings pitched with a 10-6 record, 2.04 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 210. He has struck out 146 and walked 27 while opponents have hit 0.243 against him.
Clearly it is Greinke’s award to lose. He ranks 1st in ERA, 1st in CG, 4th in SO, 5th in IP, and is tied for 1st in shutouts. Those are MLB, not just AL, rankings. Switching focus to the AL rankings only; his 0.3 HR/9 ranks 1st among starters, his 1.72 BB/9 ranks 2nd, his 9.30 K/9 ranks 3rd, and his 5.41 K/BB ranks 2nd. If you want one ranking to sum it all up, Greinke’s 210 ERA+ leads AL starters.
Despite Zack’s phenomenal performance thus far in 2009 the Royals are just 10-10 in his 20 starts, which sums up the team’s lack of offense and defense while highlighting their bullpen woes at the same time. Click here for proof that I’m not the only one tracking the Royals’ record in Zack’s starts. Fortunately for Zack, the Royals’ poor level of play should not adversely impact his chances at the award. The Cy Young Award is not as tied to team success as the MVP Award traditionally has been. 2008’s AL and NL winners, Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum are proof of that. While the Cy Young Award may not be tightly tied to team success, pitching well on a competitive team certainly doesn’t hurt and there are plenty of unenlightened voters that can’t get past a pitcher’s W-L record. Fortunately for Zack, and Royals fans who need something to root for at the ML level, King Felix and Doc Halladay pitch for teams that, like the Royals, won’t sniff the postseason. Felix’s Mariners are 51-44 and in 3rd place, but they aren’t getting past the Angels or Rangers in their division and are rumored to be shopping Jarrod Washburn among others. Halladay’s Blue Jays have wilted to a 4th place 47-49 record and he may not be a Blue Jay much longer. With a no trade clause in place, it seems doubtful that he will allow the Jays to trade him to another AL team. If he isn’t NL bound, my guess is that he finishes the season with Toronto, either way it won’t hurt Zack’s chances. Another feather in Zack’s cap this season is that all 3 candidates play outside of the major TV markets so all should be fairly evaluated with respect to one another.
All 3 pitchers figure to have another 14 or so starts if they remain healthy so a lot can change between now and the end of the season. That said, but if things stay on course, there is no doubt that Zack Greinke will be the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner. When that happens, Royals fans will finally have something to be proud of.
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