The National League Cy Young race is obviously between three pitchers: Jake Arrieta, Zack Grienke, and Clayton Kershaw. Compelling arguments can be made for any of those three candidates and, refreshingly, none of them pit old school methods of comparison versus the forward-thinking sabermetric approach.

I don’t know if it’s my interest in the down votes on ballots or just an irrational love of the Will Ferrell basketball movie “Semi-Pro”, but what I’m really curious about isn’t who wins but who finishes in fourth place.

So I dug into the contenders and their numbers this season to try and make sense of who will win the Flint Michigan Megabowl finish fourth.

ERA ERA+ WHIP FIP K/9 WAR OPP
A 2.93 129 1.008 2.87 9.6 4.9 .222/.263/.349
B 2.60 148 1.091 2.66 8.7 4.5 .239/.287/.336
C 2.54 145 0.979 2.70 9.7 4.7 .215/.255/.318
D 2.79 144 0.918 2.77 10.9 7.0 .208/.242/.358

 

So before we reveal which pitcher is which, look at the above chart and figure out who you would favor. A case can probably be made for any of the four and it’s probably a neck and neck horse race in the minds of the voters.

Honorable Mention (not listed in chart): Matt Harvey, John Lackey, Jeurys Familia, Trevor Rosenthal

A: Madison Bumgarner

The workload Bumgarner carried in last year’s postseason didn’t appear to affect the southpaw in 2015. He literally duplicated his 2014 regular season with virtually the same numbers across the board. The lefty used a strong second half by limiting home runs and improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio by almost two to vault himself back into the Cy Young discussion. The defending World Champions were never really in the playoff picture, but none of that can be laid at the feet of Bumgarner.

B: Gerrit Cole

Cole emerged as Pittsburgh’s ace this season leading the Pirates to a 98-win regular season. The 25-year-old tossed a career high in innings with 208 and that might explain his 3.21 ERA over his last 12 starts and his subpar performance in the Wild Card game. But Cole was the picture of consistency as he allowed four or more earned runs only three times all season in 32 starts.

C: Jacob deGrom

DeGrom followed up his Rookie of the Year season with a stellar campaign in the Mets’ surprising run to the playoffs. Overshadowed at times by rotation mates Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, deGrom excelled during his 14 victories as the 27-year-old right-hander posted a sub-1.00 ERA in those starts. The 2010 ninth round pick of the Mets has shown throughout the season (and now the playoffs) that he is a frontline starter poised for stardom.

D: Max Scherzer

If we were to measure a pitcher’s value on his high points of the season, Scherzer would take home some serious hardware as he tossed two no-hitters, a one-hitter, and a two-hitter. In his final start of the season, the Nationals’ ace authored the second highest game score ever in a nine-inning game as he struck out a career-high 17 batters in one of those aforementioned no-hitters. The 31-year-old had large stretches of dominance throughout the season, but during August he was mediocre at best as he struggled to a 6.43 ERA and batters posted an .881 OPS against him.

Conclusion

Does attaching names to the statistics change your way of thinking at all?

For me, it actually does. Blindly looking at the numbers I would rank Scherzer ahead of all others, but he’s also the one of the four I saw the most of this season. Because of that, familiarity breeds if not contempt, frustration at many of his outings. Washington provided him with a run less per outing than fellow starters Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez, but Scherzer was also victimized by the long ball 27 times. Eleven of those came the first time through the order and observationally most seemed to put the Nationals in a hole early.

That being said, I think I’m in the minority and the BBWAA will vote Scherzer behind the big three into that all important fourth place.

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