Eric Karabell touched on the two MVP races here, so now it's my turn to peek at the Cy Young races.
Let's start with the National League. The first thing I'm going to do is eliminate Johnny Cueto and Ryan Vogelsong, who currently rank 1-2 in ERA. Both simply haven't pitched enough innings (they've each thrown 120) to merit serious consideration, not when they're 50-plus innings behind the league leaders.
Right now, Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are a clear one-two in my book, and frankly it's too difficult to separate them. Both have made 24 starts and Halladay is 15-4 with a 2.51 ERA while Hamels is 13-6 with a 2.53 ERA. Halladay has pitched eight more innings but Hamels has allowed five fewer runs. I go to the opponents' batting line to give the slightest of edges to Hamels:
Now, if I had to guess, Halladay may start pulling away a bit. Hamels' hasn't been quite as strong since the All-Star break, with a .231/.273/.377, with a slight decline in his strikeout rate. I wouldn't be surprised to see Charlie Manuel pull back a bit on Hamels' workload to make sure he's at full strength for the postseason. Meanwhile, Halladay can seemingly pitched eight or nine innings every time out.
This isn't to dismiss the other candidates. Clayton Kershaw is 13-5 with a 2.79 ERA and leads the NL in strikeouts and K's per nine. He's allowed on opposing batting line of .212/.268/.308, right in line with Halladay and Hamels. He does benefit from a home-park advantage that the Phillies' pitchers don't get from Citizens Bank Park, as Kershaw has a 1.98 ERA at home, 3.73 on the road.
And then there's Cliff Lee, 12-7 with a 2.83 ERA and five shutouts. The only pitcher with more than five shutouts since 1990 is Randy Johnson, who had six in 1998. Lee hasn't matched the consistency of his two teammates, as he's had four starts of allowing five or more hits and four games in which he's allowed 10 hits. But voters historically love shutouts and if he get's a couple more and lowers his ERA a couple of tenths, he's in the running.
My choice for now: Hamels, by a fingernail.
The numbers say: Halladay (FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference).
The voters would say: Halladay, thanks to his better record.
* * * *
I wrote a little about the AL Cy Young race last night, so won't go too in-depth today. Right now, it appears like Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver rate Nos. 1 and 2. Verlander has been more dominant in terms of strikeouts and has a better record. Verlander has also pitched 18 more innings, but Weaver has allowed 21 fewer runs. Weaver does get more help from his defense and ballpark -- on the other hand, he's made four more starts on the road and has a 1.99 ERA there.
I received some tweets from Yankees fans saying I dismissed CC Sabathia. He's 16-6 with a 2.81 ERA, 168/46 strikeout/walk ratio and just eight home runs allowed. FanGraphs' WAR rates Sabathia No. 1 -- -- 5.9 to Verlander's 5.8 to Weaver's 5.5. He's allowed just seven more runs than Verlander, albeit in 13 fewer innings. Sabathia gains a Sabermetric edge over Verlander and Weaver because Yankee Stadium is treated as a good hitters' park; but most of that advantage is for left-handed hitters, and CC doesn't face many of those. For what it's worth, he's 0-4, 7.20 against the Red Sox.
Also, for what it's worth, here's each pitcher's record against teams above .500:
Sabathia: 8-6, 3.53 ERA (16 starts)
Verlander: 6-2, 2.07 ERA (12 starts)
Weaver: 6-4, 2.70 ERA (11 starts)
My choice for now: Verlander, by a fingernail.
The numbers say: Sabathia (FanGraphs) and Verlander (Baseball-Reference).
The voters would say: Verlander.