Max Scherzer finished his 2018 campaign with an (18-7) record in 33 starts, a 2.53 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 51 walks (2.08 BB/9), 300 strikeouts (12.24 K/9), and a .188/.247/.332 line against in 220 2⁄3 innings pitched, over which he was worth a career-high 7.2 fWAR.
Scherzer, 34, led all National League starters in strikeouts, K/9, K/BB (5.88), WHIP (0.911), opponents’ AVG, total innings, and wins, finished second in opponents’ OBP and fWAR, and ended up third in ERA, ERA+ (168), opponents’ AVG with RISP (.153), and opponents’ OPS and SLG.
Scherzer’s main competition for the 2018 NL Cy Young, (sorry, Aaron Nola), is New York Mets’ righty Jacob deGrom, who is considered the frontrunner for this year’s award after back-to-back wins by the Nationals’ ace.
deGrom finished his fifth season in the majors (10-9) in 32 starts, with a 1.70 ERA, a 1.99 FIP, 46 walks, (1.61 BB/9), 269 strikeouts (11.16 K/9), and a .196/.244/.277 line against in 217 IP, over which he was worth a career-best 8.8 fWAR.
Among NL starters, deGrom finished first in quality starts (tied with Scherzer), opponents’ OBP, fWAR, ERA, ERA+ (216), opponents’ OPS (.521), and opponents’ SLG, and the right-hander finished second in Ks, K/9, K/BB (5.85), WHIP (0.912), innings, and opponents’ AVG with RISP, and fourth in opponents’ AVG.
So who’s going to take home award? Will deGrom win his first? Will Scherzer make it three straight NL Cy Youngs and four overall in his career?
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo offered his own “totally unbiased” take on the race in a late-season interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies.
“I think Max is going to win his third straight, he’s earned it, he’s deserved it,” Rizzo said.
“He leads the league in everything but ERA. He beats deGrom in just about every category except for ERA. ERA is an important statistic, but so are innings pitched, so are starts, so is batting average against, so is OPS against, there are a lot of things that come into play. I understand that the win has lost its luster in the Cy Young voting, but let’s not condemn a guy for winning 18 games either. You know what I mean? Let’s give him a little credit for winning some games. I think a win is an important stat for a winner, it’s not the end-all and be-all, I understand that, it’s more of a team stat, but you look at the run-production that we’ve had for Max, and there was a five-game span there where we scored two or less runs in all five of his starts and he got four losses in there.
“Again, to me he’s the best pitcher in the game, he’s the guy that you want to face the least in the game, and if you’re going strictly by statistics, he’s No. 1 in just about every category that you can name, and I guess the one sexy ERA stat is the one everyone is talking about, but nine more wins, and two less losses, I get it, there’s some team involvement in that, but at least let’s not penalize the guy for winning 18 games. You don’t have to celebrate it, but don’t penalize him for it.”
“I don’t have a vote,” Rizzo added, “but if I were a voting person, I would look at the stats, and you can blank out the names and look at the stats and say, ‘Which column would you take?’ And I would take the column with all the 1sts in it and one 3rd.”
Here’s a look at the three contenders for the 2018 NL Cy Young, courtesy of the Nationals’ PR team’s Season in Review:
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s voters’ decision will be announced at 6:00 PM EST this afternoon on the MLB Network...