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IBWAA Awards – American League Cy Young Award – My Ballot

Last week I wrote an article that stated that as a new voting member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA), I wanted to put great thought into my votes. I want the IBWAA awards to be treated with the same (or even more) respect than the awards presented by other worthy organizations (BBWAA, Sporting News, etc.) The only way for this to occur, I reasoned, was for all of the writers to put great thought into their decisions.

With that as my charge, I set out to get this right. I want my votes to be carefully thought out, well-reasoned, and easily defensible. A person might disagree with my selections, but, in the end, I would hope that the critic would also admit that my decision process was sound and to also know that I didn’t take this task lightly.

And I didn’t…

Yesterday, I shared my vote for the American League Most Valuable Player.

Today I’ll share how I arrived at my choice for the Cy Young Award.

Just like the MVP, I wanted to base my decision primarily on statistics. Stats are easily defensible, and, while they don’t tell the complete story of a player, or provide the absolute full picture, they tell a lot.

For the Cy Young Award, I based my decision on fewer categories, but categories that I felt gave legitimacy to “old fashioned” stats and the newer measures of performance. The statistics I based my decisions on were WAR, ERA, Wins, WHIP, Innings Pitched, and Strikeouts. As with the MVP Award, I

I then took the top 10 players in each of those categories and ranked them from 1 to 10, awarding 10 points for first place, 9 points for second place, and so on. The player who ranked tenth in each category earned one point. As with the MVP, I determined that WAR, which comprises so much of what a player accomplishes, should carry additional weight in my rankings. As such, I doubled the total in that category only.

After conducting this exercise, there was one clear winner – in a landslide. That player was Justin Verlander who actually led the American League in each of those categories except for strikeouts where he ranked second. (Again, I made these calculations one week before season’s end. Gerrit Cole actually ended up leading the league in ERA.)

Now, the eye test, alone, would state that Justin Verlander should get this honor. In 2019, he was 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA. He threw 223 innings and struck out 300 batters. Amazing. His WHIP was 0.803. Remarkable!

By my measure, Verlander earned 69 points. The next closest player was Verlander’s teammate Gerrit Cole. Cole earned 56 points in my system. Cole had a great year. He was 20-5, 2.50. He threw 212.1 innings and struck out a league leading 326 batters. WOW! Cole’s WHIP was 0.895. Cole makes a great case for the Cy Young Award, but my measure, even giving Cole extra points for winning the ERA crown (and deducting points in this for Verlander), he comes up just a little short.

To me, Justin Verlander was the clear winner. He earned my first place vote for the American League Cy Young Award.

#CyYoungAward #IBWA

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