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Thursday, September 14, 2023

Is the AL Cy Young Race Cole’s or Too Close To Call?

According to our new Cy Young projection system, Cole is running away with the award. Per ZiPS’ forecasting, his lead in traditional Cy Young Points (CYP) over second-place Luis Castillo is the same as the gap between Castillo and seventh-place Zach Eflin. FIP-based CYP still has Cole in the lead, mostly due to his league-leading innings total, but there, he’s only narrowly ahead of Kevin Gausman. Gausman’s season feels quite similar to his 2022, when he earned just a single fifth-place vote despite leading the league in FIP thanks to elite strikeout and walk numbers.

This year, Gausman is also underperforming his league-leading FIP with uninspiring contact quality numbers. In many ways, his profile is a poor man’s Strider: better walk and homer numbers, but miles behind in whiffs and strikeouts. He also allows hard contact at a rate that makes Cole look like Tom Glavine. And while he’s limited the long ball effectively, hitters have squared up his pitches to the tune of an 18th-percentile barrel rate and .411 xwOBAcon, 40 points worse than league average. A possible cause of this is pitch mix diversity; Gausman lacks a consistent third offering besides his fastball and splitter. Hitters who correctly guess on the split can ambush it despite its elite movement; per Statcast, its run value per 100 has been cut by a factor of five compared to just two seasons ago.

Two other names that appear high on the FIP-based CYP leaderboard are Twins co-aces Sonny Gray and Pablo López. Gray is the only AL pitcher with both an ERA and FIP below 3.00. But while most star pitchers dominate with some combination of stuff and command, he hasn’t demonstrated great numbers in either. His K%+ sits at just 104, the lowest of anyone sniffing award contention besides George Kirby, who’s on pace for the 10th lowest BB/9 of any starter since integration. Gray, on the other hand, has issued just 8% fewer walks than the average pitcher.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 14, 2023 at 11:10 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cy young award, gerrit cole

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 14, 2023 at 02:33 PM (#6141321)
Unless something changes in his last few starts, it’s Cole. Leading the league in IP & ERA is hard to beat, and no one is putting up big win totals that might catch some voters eye.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: September 14, 2023 at 04:09 PM (#6141336)
Leading to "7th-place Zach Eflin??" And sure enough ... he's on Tampa now, 28 GS, 161 IP, 119 ERA+, 9.2/1.3 K/BB. His career K/BB before Tampa was 7.5/2.2 so once again, they seem to have a clue down there.

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