The regular season of baseball has come to an end, and with the playoffs starting, consideration and voting for end of the year awards will begin to take place. One of the hot topics is always the Cy Young Award, and definitely will be for this year, especially on the AL side of things.
When you think of the AL Cy Young race, there are a handful of guys who could potentially win, including Dallas Keuchal and Corey Kluber, but it seems as though they have overlooked one REAL candidate and that is Chris Sale. When you consider a Cy Young-worthy pitcher, you obviously look at wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts, but there is more to measure than just that such as how much that pitcher actually means to his team’s success. Let’s look at Corey Kluber.
Kluber has all the numbers necessary to win the award, and is probably the favorite and realistically, the person who will ultimately win this year. He has 18 wins, 265 strikeouts, a 2.25 ERA, and a WHIP of 0.87. Fantastic stats, but as far as importance to the team? I honestly don’t think he was that important. The Indians pitching staff had four other pitchers this year with double-digit wins. Hypothetically if you were to take 7 wins away from Kluber, the Indians would still have 95, still would have won the division with a 10-game lead, and made the playoffs. Even if Kluber didn’t win a game somehow, the Indians would have finished only ONE game out of first place and would have just missed the playoffs. So you’re still going to say that he was undoubtedly the most important pitcher to his team? I don’t think so. But you can say that about Sale and the Red Sox.
Chris Sale has all the numbers that you’re looking for in a Cy Young winner: 17 wins, 306 strikeouts (the most in the entire MLB by a mile FWIW), a 2.90 ERA, and a WHIP of 0.97. These are fantastic stats, but he only has Kluber beat in one category, strikeouts, at least statistically. The main reason I think Chris Sale should win the Cy Young is that he was, without a doubt, the most important pitcher to his team. The Red Sox pitching staff only has two other pitchers with double-digit wins this season, including Rick Porcello, who also had 17 losses on his record. Chris Sale played a huge part in the Red Sox’s success this season.
Let’s do the same hypothetical situation for Chris Sale. Let’s say he lost 7 more games, taking away 7 wins. The Red Sox would only have had 86 wins, would have come in second in the AL East by about 5 games, and barely squeezed into the Wildcard game. In the same messed-up hypothetical where he didn’t win a single game, the Sox would have finished the season with 76 wins, which would put them second-to-last in the division and way out of the playoff conversation. Not to mention, Sale was that real go-to guy, consistently ending losing skids or coming back after a loss and winning a game for the Sox. Something a real ace has to do when they’re on a less-than-perfect team like this year’s Red Sox.
I know the “importance” argument is not one that really goes into consideration when choosing the Cy Young winner, but it’s something worth noting when you are talking about the best pitcher in the American League. With that said, Chris Sale not winning the Cy Young would be a complete slap in the face and would be totally disrespectful to how good he really was for his team and in the American League. It’s time to officially put some damn ‘spec on his name.