With pitchers and catchers having reported to their respective spring training facilities, now is the perfect time to dive into the Cy Young candidates of the 2013 season.
2013 is ripe with pitchers looking to prove their 2012 seasons were flukes, prove they are worth multi-year contracts, and show that they can avoid injury and arm fatigue over the course of the year. Then there are the past winners, looking to add another Cy Young award to their trophy shelf.
What follows is a list of five Cy Young candidates, in no particular order, for each league
*I would like to note that I do not value relievers enough to consider them Cy Young candidates. Craig Kimbrel was arguably the best reliever in baseball last year, and according the Baseball Reference, he contributed a little over 3 wins above replacement. Compare that to other notable 3 WAR starters such as Ryan Dempster, Wade Miley or Jonathan Niese.
Stats: SIERA = Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average, xFIP = Expected Fielding Independent Pitching
2012 SIERA: 2.81 xFIP: 2.81
Strasburg put up Cy Young worthy numbers in 2012 before being shut down early at the end of the season. If he can repeat his 2012 performance for the complete 2013 season, and if the Nationals compete again for the NL East title, Strasburg may be be the number one contender for 2013.
2012 SIERA: 3.24 xFIP: 3.25
On a non-playoff team, Kershaw still finished second in the Cy Young voting for 2012. With the addition of Zach Greinke, the Dodgers should expect to compete for the NL West in 2013. If Kershaw can keep his FIP below the 2012 projections (similar to his 2011 numbers) his name will be in the Cy Young discussions.
2012 SIERA: 3.22 xFIP: 3.23
Hammels had one of his best seasons in 2012, and was one of the best pitchers during the season, but did not receive much consideration for a Cy Young award. This oversight can be mostly attributed to the dismal season the Phillies experienced. A repeat of the 2012 season on a contending team should boost Cole into Cy Young consideration.
Wild Card: Aroldis Chapman
2012 SIERA: 1.33 xFIP: 1.93
As Chapman was used in relief during the previous season, his 2012 projection numbers are quite inflated. I would look for these other-worldly numbers to regress considerably in his new starter role. If Dusty can limit the abuse on Chapman’s arm, and he stays healthy for a majority of the season, Aroldis may be in the Cy Young conversation come September.
Dark horse: Matt Cain
2012 SIERA: 3.62 xFIP: 3.82
Matt Cain’s projections have been trending downward (lower SIERA/FIP) ever since his debut in the league in 2005. If this trend continues into 2013, look for Cain to have a stellar year resulting in his first Cy Young award.
2012 SIERA: 3.16 xFIP: 3.12
Price comes into 2103 as the reigning Cy Young award winner. The competition in the AL is fierce, but a repeat of his 2012 season can almost guarantee him another Cy Young in 2013.
2012 SIERA: 3.26 xFIP: 3.31
After an ungodly 2011 season, Verlander’s 2012 season was perceived as a letdown, although that is far from the truth. The AL Cy Young appears to be a 2-horse race with Price, but if Verlander can return to 2011 levels, the award is his for the taking.
2012 SIERA: 3.20 xFIP: 3.20
Three years removed from his Cy Young, Hernandez is looking to regain his form from 2009-2010. Worries about his arm health as well as contract distractions may hurt his year this year, but both those issues may motivate King Felix into Cy Young consideration and to prove he is worth a multi-year deal.
Wild Card: Toronto’s Pitching Staff
On paper, Toronto may have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball. With the reigning NL Cy Young winner in R.A. Dickey and the perennially underrated Josh Johnson, the Jays have at least two outside shots at Cy Young contenders. Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow have both shown flashes of brilliance, and with the experience of Mark Buhrle in the clubhouse I would not be shocked to see someone from the Blue Jays staff leading the Cy Young race.
Dark Horse: Chris Sale
2012 SIERA: 3.25 xFIP: 3.24
If the White Sox can avoid a dreadful season, and contend even breifly near September, Sale’s name may pop up in Cy Young conversations. However, the voters like winners and the Sox may not give Sale enough wins to pad his Cy Young resume for 2013.
Tags: Aroldis Chapma Chicago White Sox Chris Sale Cincinnati Reds Clayton Kershaw Cole Hammels David Price Detroit Tigers Felix Hernandez Justin Verlander Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Cain Philadelphia Phillies San Francisco Giants Seattle Mariners Steven Strasburg Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays Washington Nationals