With the talk about end-of-year awards heating up in baseball, it’s worth taking a closer look at Max Scherzer.
He’s undoubtedly the favorite to bring home the AL Cy Young Award. But the conversation surrounding Scherzer’s candidacy has focused on one point: the importance of the win statistic.
Traditionalists cite Scherzer’s 19-2 record as all the evidence needed. The opposite side argues that connecting a pitcher's wins with value is outdated.
Most Wins Above Replacement
AL Pitchers This Season
You don’t need wins to show Scherzer is the best
But this is no longer an old school-versus-new school argument. Take away Scherzer’s win/loss record, and you’re still looking at the best pitcher in the American League this season.
Scherzer ranks among the league leaders in numerous significant advanced metrics.
Although he is not No. 1 in any category besides wins, he’s among the top two or three in just about all of them -- something no one else can say.
He’s second among all AL pitchers in WAR, while also ranking second in strikeout rate (28.3 percent), second in opponent batting average (.196), third in ERA (2.88) and third in FIP (2.72).
FIP stands for fielding independent pitching, taking a pitcher's strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed and converting them into a number scaled to resemble ERA.
Notable AL Cy Young Contenders
ERA This Season
His competitors are falling off
A few weeks ago, Felix Hernandez and Yu Darvish were the two pitchers in position to challenge Scherzer’s hold on the award, with even Hiroki Kuroda getting some Cy Young buzz.
All three have come upon hard times -- or at least not advanced their cause -- while Scherzer has arguably been better in the second half than the first half.