My IBWAA Ballot: AL Cy Young
Updated: Nov 17
It's awards week! Today we continue with the AL Cy Young and the BBWAA/IBWAA nominees!
As is standard with the IBWAA, each voter was allowed a Top-5 vote for the Cy Young. The 1st place player receives 7 points, 2nd place gets 4 points, 3rd place gets 3 points, 4th place gets 2 points, and 5th place gets 1 point.
5th Place: Framber Valdez (Houston Astros)
Statistics: 31 Games (31 Games Started), 17-6 Record (.739 WP%), 2.82 ERA (137 ERA+), 201.1 Innings, 166 Hits, 67 Walks, 1.157 WHIP, 194 Strikeouts, 3.06 FIP, +3.7 bWAR/+4.4 fWAR
The American League leader in innings pitched as well as complete games (3)- which again goes to show how incredible Sandy Alcantara's season was, from my article last week- Frambe Valdez is a very similar story when it came to Cy Young voting this year. After breaking into the league a few years back, he wasn't getting a ton of innings to pitch and during his first real full season he proved it in 2022. His 2021 season was solid last year (3.14 ERA, 134.2 IP) and he improved upon it in nearly every way.
4th Place: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels)
Statistics: 28 Games (28 Games Started), 15-9 Record (.625 WP%), 2.33 ERA (172 ERA+), 166.0 Innings, 124 Hits, 44 Walks, 1.012 WHIP, 219 Strikeouts, 2.40 FIP, +6.1 bWAR/+5.6 fWAR
As long as he plays decently well, people are going to consider Shohei Ohtani to be the favorite for the AL MVP award nearly every year. He's the only player who is pitching and hitting at the same time. It's fantastic. And his pitching is what holds him up to being a yearly candidate for the MVP award.
A sub-2.50 ERA, a near sub-1.000 WHIP. A FIP that almost matches his ERA (showing consistency and projectability), over 200 strikeouts. He's absolutely great on the mound. It's where he shines the most and it's a shame that we missed out on essentially two seasons of this in 2019 and 2020. However, his 166 innings is the outlier here. He was great, but he also pitched 2 fewer games and about 20 innings less than the average pitcher competing here. While his stats were great, anything could've happened over those final innings and games that could've changed this look and other pitchers had to push late while his team wasn't off for the postseason.
3rd Place: Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox)
Statistics: 32 Games (32 Games Started), 14-8 Record (.636 WP%), 2.20 ERA (180 ERA+), 184.0 Innings, 126 Hits, 78 Walks, 1.109 WHIP, 227 Strikeouts, 3.10 FIP, +6.4 bWAR/+4.4 fWAR
Another pitcher on my Top-5 for the Cy Young who had a great season that was otherwise not really talked about. Dylan Cease was a longtime top prospect in the game and was one of the big pieces headed to the White Sox in 2017 (with Eloy Jimenez) for Jose Quintana as the Cubs tried to defend their World Series title. This year was the first that he really showcased his stuff. (Honestly, this script is getting repetitive, but there were so many break-out pitchers this year!)
Cease showed himself to be a solid starter in 2021 (165.2 IP, 3.91 ERA), but completely set new expectations after this season as he beat the 2.50 ERA mark, had more than 200 strikeouts (as he did in 2021, but without selling out for them), passed 175 innings pitched, and essentially just showed improvements everywhere. I promise I didn't vote for the Cy Young award based on how a player improved from the year before, but Cease really showed a different look.
2nd Place: Alek Manoah (Toronto Blue Jays)
Statistics: 31 Games (31 Games Started), 16-7 Record (.696 WP%), 2.24 ERA (174 ERA+), 196.2 Innings, 144 Hits, 51 Walks, 0.992 WHIP, 180 Strikeouts, 3.35 FIP, +5.9 bWAR/+4.1 fWAR
I'm not going to repeat the same talking point again (though it is warranted, as yet again this was a breakout year for a pitcher), instead the talking point with Manoah is that he was one of the few to keep up his season from the beginning to the end. Early on in the season, Manoah was on the early leaderboard for who was pitching their way into Cy Young contention and unlike the other names, he kept it up the whole way through.
The stats speak for themselves. He was tops in the American League in all of them (except strikeouts) and he was close to taking home the honor as the best pitcher in the league. Going into his age-25 season, especially with this behind him, he's going to contend for it for many years to come.
1st Place: Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)
Statistics: 28 Games (28 Games Started), 18-4 Record (.818 WP%), 1.75 ERA (220 ERA+), 175.0 Innings, 116 Hits, 29 Walks, 0.829 WHIP, 185 Strikeouts, 2.49 FIP, +5.9 bWAR/+6.1 fWAR
He started just 28 games, like Ohtani. He pitched just 175 innings (2nd lowest of my Cy Young Award finalists). He had a FIP that was over 40% higher than his ERA. AND YET, this doesn't paint the whole picture.
Justin Verlander led the American League in Wins and Winning Percentage. He also led the MLB in ERA (with a sub-2.00 ERA!), ERA+ (at 220!), and WHIP (under .850!). Maybe it's the wrong way to look at this, but he did all that after missing the last two seasons (he pitched 6 innings in 2020) and is absolutely deserving of the Cy Young.
Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) - 3.50 ERA (111 ERA+), 200.2 Innings, 257 K's
Kevin Gausman (Toronto Blue Jays) - 3.35 ERA (116 ERA+), 174.2 Innings, 205 K's
Shane Bieber (Cleveland Guardians) - 2.88 ERA (132 ERA+), 200.0 Innings, 198 K's
And a quick shoutout to these following 3 pitchers (who were close to my list):
Gerrit Cole had the most starts in the MLB and surpassed the 200 innings mark (as one of 3 pitcher in the AL to do so) while also setting a new Yankees single-season record for strikeouts in a season. Those 257 strikeouts also led the AL in 2022. He wasn't amazing amazing, but the strikeout number was notable.
Kevin Gausman led the AL in FIP (2.38) this past season while being part of the 1-2 punch atop the Blue Jays rotation. His underlying numbers indicate he'll be even better in 2023, which is of concern for Yankees fans and other teams in the AL East.
Along with Valdez and Cole, Shane Bieber was the 3rd member of the 200 innings club in the AL for 2022. He also did so with a sub-3.00 ERA and nearly a strikeout an inning. While we'll likely never see him produce as he did towards his 2020 Cy Young (1.63 ERA), he's still one heck of an arm.
Cy Young Award Winners:
The winners for the Cy Young are set to be announced tonight at 6:00 PM (EST) on MLB Network. Below we have our winners and thoughts!
American League: Justin Verlander (210 Points), Dylan Cease (97), Alek Manoah (87)
National League: Sandy Alcantara (210 Points), Max Fried (72), Julio Urias (66)
American League: Justin Verlander (454 Points), Dylan Cease (246), Shohei Ohtani (196)
National League: Sandy Alcantara (433 Points), Julio Urias (179), Max Fried (146)