3 underdog candidates for NL Cy Young

Posted: 03/12/2012 by levcohen in Uncategorized

Today is 3 underdog candidates for the NL Cy Young Award, given to the best pitcher in the league. The obvious ones are Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Cliff Lee (I think those 4 are better than anyone else in the NL):

Josh Johnson, FLA:

Johnson is one of the most talented pitchers in the NL, but is overlooked because he is always injured. Johnson should be entering his prime at 28 years old, but has only thrown more than 100 innings 3 times, and 200 innings only once. However, last year we got a glimpse of just how good JJ could be when healthy. In 9 starts, he routinely went deep into games with no hitters, and had a 3-1 record with a 1.64 ERA. His WHIP was also below 1. Also, in one of his few full seasons, Johnson made the all star team and finished 5th in Cy Young voting. Obviously, he has the talent to compete. Another thing that many people overlook is that Johnson often went deep into games in bad weather, whether it was hot or rainy. This year, new manager Ozzie Guillen has promised to pay attention to JJ’s pitch count, but the big thing is that the Marlins are moving into a domed stadium. That is the perfect weather for an arm, and could keep Johnson from getting injured.

2012 projections: 156 IP, 11-7, 2.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 151 K’s

Adam Wainwright, STL:

Wainwright doesn’t have a big injury history,  but last year underwent Tommy John surgery. He has made a full recovery though, and should be good to go this year. Wainwright is 30, and before TJ had the two best years of his career. In 2009 he went 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA and finished 3rd in the CY Young award voting. He also finished 15th in MVP award voting. In 2010, he got even better. He posted a 20-11 record, lowering his ERA to 2.43. He finished second to Roy Halladay in the CY Young award voting. It seems like Wainwright was just reaching his potential, so we can expect him to come close to those numbers this year. He was also a workhorse in those two years, finishing with 446 innings pitched combined, top 5 in the MLB.

Projections: 217 IP, 16-9, 2.87 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 162 K’s

Cole Hamels, PHI:

Cole Hamels, in a contract year, is going to put up the best numbers of his career this year. Just entering his prime, the 28 year old Hamels should put up some great numbers. Last year, Hamels had easily the best numbers of his career, lowering his ERA to under 2.80, finishing #5 in the CY Young award voting. He also added 194 strikeouts, the 3rd time in 4 years that he K’d more than 190. Interestingly enough, the Phillies score at a lower pace with Hamels on the mound than with Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. That should change this year, and Hamels should win at least 15 games. In a contract year, Hamels may shine brighter than either of the team’s other pitching stars.

Projections: 211 IP, 17-7, 2.62 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 197 K’s

Overall CY Young top 7:

Including the 4 I mentioned at the top, I think the CY Young voting will go like this:

1. Roy Halladay- most consistent pitcher in baseball, should top 20 wins which gives him the advantage over Hamels

2. Cole Hamels- contract year

3. Clayton Kershaw- still just 23, he is the reigning CY Young award winner

4. Tim Lincecum- Won back to back cy youngs a few years ago, his talent says that he could do it again

5. Adam Wainwright- coming off of Tommy John surgery, finished top 3 in ’09 and ’10

6. Josh Johnson- Might have the best ERA of anyone, but will he stay healthy?

7. Cliff Lee- Little bit of a down year for him might be in store, but Lee will remain a top tier starting pitcher.

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