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NL Cy Young: The Best and Worst Stats

Cy Young Finalists. Best and Worst Stats. Simple as that.

Hyun-Jin Ryu by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NL Cy Young: The Best and Worst Stats

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Jacob deGrom – SP, New York Mets

Best: 7.3 WAR (NL Leader for Pitchers)

Could I have gone with his NL-leading 255 strikeouts? Sure. Could I have gone with his .191 opponent average in games where he got 0-2 runs of support? Sure. Instead, I’m going with WAR, because it’s easy.

It’s easy to look at deGrom’s 7.3 WAR and see just how solid he was or the Mets in 2019. In regards to the entire MLB, deGrom’s evaluation was the highest in the National League and 4th overall within the entire league. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg finished the year at 6.3, a full point below deGrom.

There was no better pitcher, across the league, to take the mound in 2019. Flat out.

Worst: 11-8 Record

Once again, the team the Jacob deGrom plays for let him down. Last year’s 2018 Cy Young award conversation focused on the issue of whether or not a pitcher with a 10-9 record and a 1.70 ERA could win the prestigious honors.

The 29 first-place votes he got provided a resounding “YES.”

And yet here we are again. Discussing the merit of a good pitcher on a bad team. The other pitchers in the running were on teams that made it to the playoffs, and one who subsequently won the World Series, whereas deGrom found himself grinding out starts for the godforsaken New York Mets.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A pitcher’s record is worthless. It’s a superficial stat that doesn’t add much to the analysis of a pitcher’s season. Yet still, in this world of increased criticism on optics, having a Cy Young winner with a tough record could hurt deGrom. Especially considering this is his second year in a row with a tough record.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Best: 2.32 ERA (MLB Leader)

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s 2.32 ERA was the lowest among all qualified starters in the majors this year. That’s not an easy feat. Normally, that’s the exact stat this award was based on. Much like WAR in the MVP voting, a pitcher’s ERA can point to just how dominant they were throughout an entire season. It’s a one-stop-shop. A simplistic statistic. It’s easy.

It’s also a difficult one to lead the league in, and Ryu managed to finish the year on top. At one point, Ryu spent almost two months with his ERA below the 1.50 mark. The guy was untouchable, until…

Worst: August and September

This award would be Ryu’s to lose were it not for an absolutely abysmal final two months of the season, specifically a tough August.

Heading into the late summer month, Ryu had pitched 135.2 innings, giving up 10 home runs, surrendering a total of 23 earned runs over his first 21 starts, leading to an incredible 1.53 ERA. In the month of August alone, Ryu gave up 5 home runs, surrendering 18 earned runs, posting a 7.48 ERA for the month.

That August collapse could have potentially tanked Ryu’s Cy Young hopes. A dark mark on an otherwise brilliant season.

Max Scherzer – SP, Washington Nationals

Best: 12.7 K/9 (NL Leader)

To say that Max Scherzer is a dominant pitcher is an understatement. The man is suffocatingly brilliant when he’s in the zone. The great Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson once said, “I own one half of that plate. It’s up to the hitter to figure out which half.”

Max Scherzer acts like he owns both halves.

That plate belongs to him, and that stat is on display with his National League-leading 12.7 k/9 in 2019. When you step into the box against Scherzer, the odds are good he’ll strike you out. That’s dominance.

Worst: 1.029 WHIP

Let me be clear, a 1.029 WHIP is solid, if not elite, in today’s game. So why is it Scherzer’s worst stat?

Jacob deGrom posted a 0.971 WHIP and Ryu finished at 1.007, but Scherzer’s 1.029 falls in third place among the three finalists. Still not the reason it’s his worst stat.

Since 2015, Max Scherzer’s WHIP has lived below the 1.000 mark. In that span, he’s led the National League in WHIP three times, lead the entire league once, and won two Cy Youngs. This 2019 season, while still stellar, just simply wasn’t his best. For the first time since 2008, Scherzer didn’t start 30 games. This was an off-year for Mad Max.

The craziest thing? This was an off-year for Max Scherzer, and he’s still a Cy Young Finalist. That’s insanity.

So Who Wins?

Jacob deGrom.


I forgot about this stat…


Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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