It didn’t feel like it over the first couple months, but Felix has put himself in position to possibly win the greatest single-season award a pitcher can receive. Right now he leads the American League in innings. He’s tied for fourth in ERA, he’s number one in FIP, and if you put any stock into FanGraphs’ pitcher WAR, he’s number two. Baseball-Reference’s pitcher WAR ranks him tied for sixth.
The top contenders would presumably be Felix, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and David Price. We talk about this now, of course, because Felix just threw a perfect game, which the other contenders have not. Felix has propelled himself into the discussion. Jered Weaver, though, did throw a no-hitter, in case you forgot, and in that no-hitter he walked one and hit another. Verlander hasn’t thrown a perfect game although I guess he landed Kate Upton anyway? Price hasn’t done anything historic but according to Baseball Prospectus he’s faced the third-toughest opponents of all regular AL pitchers so far. It’s weird that we don’t adjust for quality of competition when we unquestionably, absolutely should.
...So here’s the conclusion for right now: Felix Hernandez stands a chance of winning his second Cy Young Award. If everything stayed exactly the same, he’d be one of probably three or four strong candidates, but there’s more baseball to play and everything will not stay exactly the same. Felix could surge, Felix could sink, or any of the other guys could surge or sink instead or as well. If I had a vote and if I were voting right now, I’d cast a vote for Justin Verlander, and then I’d ask why I have a vote, and why I had to vote right now, something about this seems fishy. Felix is close, though. The Mariners are not within real striking distance of a playoff spot, but Felix is presently within striking distance of being the Cy Young front-runner. Perhaps he already is the Cy Young front-runner, thanks in part to Wednesday’s perfect game.