Should Clayton Kershaw Win The 2011 NL Cy Young Award?

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the 2011 NL Cy Young Award race comes down to three horses: Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee. All three pitchers have had outstanding years, but one of them has to win it.

As with my analysis of the 2011 NL MVP Award race, I’ll be doing my best to stay away from bias in this argument, so I’ll start off with the objective numbers.

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IP & ERA

Should be common knowledge what these are. I assume you wouldn’t be reading this site if you didn’t know. Not adjusted. Taken from anywhere you want.

ERA-

League average pitcher is 100 and the lower the better. Park adjusted. Taken from FanGraphs.

FIP

Scales factors that the pitcher has active control over to ERA. Not adjusted. Taken from FanGraphs.

FIP-

League average pitcher is 100 and the lower the better. Park adjusted. Taken from FanGraphs.

SIERA

Similar to FIP except it also uses batted ball data to scale all factors to ERA. Park adjusted. Taken from FanGraphs.

fWAR

Uses FIP to figure out the pitcher’s runs saved above replacement and converts it into wins. Park adjusted. Taken from FanGraphs.

rWAR

Uses ERA to figure out the pitcher’s runs saved above replacement and coverts it into wins. Park adjusted. Taken from Baseball Reference.

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Again, I created my own version of WAR by combining fWAR and rWAR, giving a 50% split in importance to both actual results and actual performance. Going forward, I will be using this same WAR calculation methodology until it’s shown it can be improved upon.

As far as my own calculation of WAR, Roy Halladay is at 7.8, Clayton Kershaw is at 6.9, and Cliff Lee is at 6.8. Halladay has a clear lead over the other two, but if you look at the comparison of the three pitchers and think they’re all basically similar, I don’t blame you; it’s because they are.

In a nutshell, that’s the point I wanted to make about this race. I don’t think there’s necessarily a wrong answer, as long it’s one of the three mentioned candidates. There’s not enough gap between any of them for me to conclusively say that one pitcher deserves it above the rest, particularly because of the accuracy issues of pitching metrics when compared to batting metrics.

Personally, if I had a vote, I couldn’t get away from Halladay, simply because he basically did what Kershaw did except in a more hitter friendly environment*, and he also out-pitched his teammate (Lee) while operating under the same circumstances.

That said, I’ll be hoping for Kershaw to win, and if he does, I don’t think anybody can have a serious problem with it.

I just hope Dodgers fans remember that if Kershaw doesn’t win, the same rules apply.

*As Dodgers fans, we can’t have it both ways. You can’t mock Citizen’s Bank Park as a bandbox (it’s really not, but I see it said a lot), but now that it might cost Clayton Kershaw the Cy Young Award, all of a sudden pretend that they all pitch in neutral environments. If you’re gonna be a homer about it, that’s fine, but just admit it.

About Chad Moriyama

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