Yesterday, my associate Jason Mastrodonato ran through the AL Cy Young candidates. And although the impetus for his piece was to point out how fine a season CJ Wilson is having and there is no parallel in the Senior Circuit, I thought I would take a quick look at the NL Cy Young challengers.
Roy Halladay. PHI: Despite being the only candidate presently with double digit losses, Halladay is likely the current front runner. He would then have a bookend for the 2003 AL Cy Young. Doc is as consistent as they come and makes for a rather boring read, so let us move onto someone a little more interesting.
Adam Wainwright, STL: Until a recent rough patch, an argument could have been made contending Wainwright was the leading candidate for the Cy Young award. Skills-wise, Wainwright is doing just like he did last season. Results-wise, his ERA is a little better as he has enjoyed a lower than normal BABIP. While no pitcher can ever be considered a sure thing, Wainwright’s peripherals appear stable so more of the same is likely the next few seasons. He looks like someone who doesn’t have the ceiling of some of the other aces, but his floor is higher, reducing the risk of acquisition.
Josh Johnson, FLA: Johnson may have the most electric stuff of those discussed today. Steven Strasburg owners take heed, as Johnson is a young fireballer fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and he is throwing better than ever. Even though his K/BB is easily the best of the group, his depressed win total may cost him of some of the old-school votes. With respect to bang for the buck, Johnson’s reputation has not quite caught up to his effectiveness, so he may be a target for those liking to build their staff around a high-strikeout ace as he still may be a buck or two undervalued.
Tim Hudson, ATL: Now it’s getting interesting. Let’s say Atanta fends off Philadelphia and wins the NL East. Let’s say Hudson wins a few more games and finishes with 18 or 19 wins with 6 or fewer losses. Let’s say he does this without significantly changing his ERA of 2.24. The sabr-pundits are going to have a field day pointing out how lucky Hudson has been with a .244 BABIP and 83.6 LOB%. Both of these marks are significantly lower than expected and studies show largely out of the player’s control. But it is going to be hard for some of the old-school voters not to hang their chad for Hudson if he is 19-5 with a 2.30 ERA for a division winner, 5.3 K/9 be damned. That said, it should not be hard for you to let someone else pay for his 2010 surface stats next spring.
Ubaldo Jimenez, COL: As of this writing, Jimenez’ K/9 is identical to last season and his BB/9 is virtually identical, but his ERA is significantly better since his BABIP is lower which has resulted in more wins. With a strong finish, the outstanding first half Jimenez turned in (at least results-wise) may resonate with the voters enough to carry Jimenez to the award especially if he reached the magical 20-win plateau. So far, you were likely able to pick up Jimenez at a discount since there is still a stigma surrounding Rockie hurlers, But next spring, the discount is likely to vanish as this will be two years in a row Jimenez has been successful which will be further amplified since he will likely finish with an ERA better than expected based on his skills.
Mat Latos, SD: Realistically, Latos does not have a real shot at the award since his innings will be tempered in an effort to preserve his valuable right arm especially since there should be some playoff innings added to the total. But with regards to skills, Latos belongs in the discussion with all the other candidates. That said, he has also enjoyed some good fortune with a BABIP and LOB% much lower than average. With the penchant of any to jump on the next big thing, expect Latos to be overpriced next season. However, if you were with us last spring when we were very high on Latos and acquired him in a keeper league for cheap, you’re welcome.