As the dwindling readers of this blog know, last year I did not vote for Jacob deGrom for the IBWAA’s top pitcher award (I don’t think we are allowed to call it “Cy Young.” BBWAA jerks!). I don’t want to get into it again (you can read it here if you’d like), but obviously it had to do with deGrom’s paltry 10 wins. This year, however, I did cast my vote for deGrom and his 11 wins. Why the change of heart? Are wins becoming less important to me? Have I finally entered the 21st century? Keep reading.
I’ll start by saying wins are still important to me. But none of the pitchers with an ERA that could rival deGrom’s 2.43 (second in the league) won more than 14. So wins kind of became a non-issue (I’ll get to Stephen Strasburg and his 18 wins later).
No, the major issue for me was innings pitched, which I have learned over the years is also a big factor in the real Cy Young voting. deGrom pitched 204 innings. In contrast, these are the innings totals for every other National pitcher with an ERA under three:
Hyun-Jin Ryu: 182.2
Mike Soroka: 174.2
Jack Flaherty: 196.1
Sonny Gray: 175.1
Max Scherzer: 172.1
deGrom outpaced all of them by a wide margin (except for a small amount over Flaherty). It shows how durable deGrom was, and for me, that gives him the edge, especially over Ryu, who had a lower ERA (2.32) and won 14 games. Add in the fact that deGrom led the league in strikeouts with 255 and it would be hard to deny him his second straight Cy Young.
Oh yeah, Strasburg. He had a traditional Cy Young year — a league-leading 18 wins, second in strikeouts with 251, tops with 209 innings pitched (deGrom was third) and tenth with a 3.32 ERA. Ten, 20 years ago, Strasburg would have been the easy pick. And purists could still argue for him now. But while that ERA is certainly respectable, it is nearly a full run higher than deGrom’s. And in this day and age, that is a big difference.
Also a big difference is WAR (if you care about that, and obviously, I don’t). deGrom’s was a league best 7.3, a full point (do they call it a “point”?) higher than second-place Strasburg.
So yeah, I voted for deGrom this year. So no more nasty comments!