The Cy Young Award campaigns are beginning to get heated this time of year. The baseball media has zeroed in on four prime candidates: Zack Greinke, C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Felix Hernadez.
Each of these pitchers has a great resume, but Jon Lester has had quite the season. Where does he stack up against the competition?
1) Zack Greinke – 2.14 – 1st in AL
2) Felix Hernandez – 2.45 – 2nd in AL
3) C.C. Sabathia – 3.31 – 6th in AL
4) Jon Lester – 3.33 – 7th in AL
5) Justin Verlander – 3.44 – 9th in AL
While Lester is not in Greinke or King Felix’s territory, his is virtually tied with Sabathia and sits just in front of Verlander. Lester could very well move to third by the end of the season.
1) Justin Verlander – 245 (10.14 K/9) – 1st in AL
2) Zack Greinke – 224 (9.58 K/9) – 2nd in AL
3) Jon Lester – 215 (9.94 K/9) – 3rd in AL
4) Felix Hernandez – 196 (8.15 K/9) – 4th in AL
5) C.C. Sabathia – 186 (7.59 K/9) – 7th in AL
Lester’s emergence this year has been largely due to his strikeouts, yet his breakout becomes even more amazing when comparing it to the rest of the league: third in the league in Ks, 2nd in K/9. This is quite the accomplishment and he really distances himself from Sabathia in this category. He stays neck and neck with Greinke and Verlander, especially due to the K/9.
Not bad for a guy who struck out 6.50 per nine last year, no?
1) C.C. Sabathia – 18 – 1st in AL
2) Felix Hernandez – 16 – 3rd in AL
Justin Verlander – 16 – 3rd in AL
4) Zack Greinke – 14 – 8th in AL
Jon Lester – 14 – 8th in AL
Here is where Lester’s candidacy takes a hit, as he is lined up at the bottom with Greinke, two wins behind Felix and Verlander, four behind Sabathia. This could change with a few quality starts over the rest of the season, though wins are always hard to come by.
1) C.C. Sabathia: 220.1 IP – 2nd in AL
2) Justin Verlander: 217.1 IP – 3rd in AL
3) Felix Hernandez: 216.1 IP – 4th in AL
4) Zack Greinke: 210.3 IP – 5th in AL
5) Jon Lester: 194.2 IP – 11th in AL
Though this is a secondary category, a pitcher’s “workmanlike” status helps his candidacy. Lester will finish the season with over 200 IP, but the others will receive the “workhorse” label at 220 IP, which makes them more valuable to their team.
Though Lester doesn’t stack up well in Wins and Innings Pitched, he still deserves to be mentioned in the conversation. No pitcher on this list is without flaw: Greinke is last in wins; Sabathia is last in Ks, despite pitching the most innings; Verlander is last in ERA; Hernandez does not lead a single category.
Voters also like the pitcher’s team – not as much as the MVP race – but it still matters. They don’t want the Cy Young winner coming from Kansas City or Seattle, unless, of course, it’s San Francisco and Tim Lincecum is in question.
While Greinke would run away with this award were he on New York or Boston, this race has no clear front runner because he pitches for Kansas City. While Lester is not a favorite in this race, he absolutely should be in the conversation – especially after seeing how well he stacks up to the pack.
If the local media were to get behind their hometown hero, he could be considered a darkhorse to take home the hardware. Until that happens, he has about the same chance as a presidential write-in. At the same time, if Sabathia takes this one home, then… don’t get me started. A New Yorker in the running? All the more reason to pull for Lester.