Guest Blogger: Shawn Lee analyzes the Cy Young candidates

Each day this week, The Baseball Zealot will be featuring special guest bloggers who will be giving their predictions on the 2009 MLB end-of year-awards and postseason matchups.  In the second installment of this series, Shawn Lee will look at the Cy Young candidates. 

shawn Shawn Lee is a local guy, living here in Champaign-Urbana.  Not only is he the webmaster for our local vintage base ball team, the Vermilion Voles, he’s been known to pick up a willow and swing at the onion too.  When he plays for the Voles, he’s known as General Lee, thank you. 

Lee doesn’t always live in the 19th century though.  He’s a big fan of current Major League Baseball, too favoring the New York Yankees. 


2009 Cy Young Predictions


This year’s chase for the Cy Young Award in both leagues is deserving of interest for two main reasons.  First, although there are plenty of deserving candidates, neither league has a clear cut front runner.  I wish the task of predicting the winners were made easy for me. Instead, I’ll need to stick out my neck just a bit and make my best guess.

The second reason this season is a bit different is that there are several teams who have multiple legitimate contenders.  For this reason in particular, my approach in making my prediction is going to be to pick the best pitcher from each team first.  Then from all 30 pitchers, I’ll make my AL and NL predictions.  Please note that my intention here is not to determine who should win the award based on my personal analysis.  My goal is to predict who the folks with the voting power are going to choose.

American League


Baltimore:  Brad Bergesen.  Not much to choose from here.  It would have easily been George Sherrill if he wasn’t traded to the Dodgers.

Boston:  Jon Lester edges Josh Beckett.

NY Yankees:  CC Sabathia with Mariano Rivera a close second.  Too bad Phil Hughes had some pretty rough outings as a starter to begin the year.  His numbers have been breathtaking since becoming a reliever in June.

Tampa Bay:  Matt Garza.  Rays pitchers have been very disappointing compared to last year.

Toronto:  Roy Halladay.  Hittable as of late, but still no contest here.

ChiSox:  Mark Buerhle edges Gavin Floyd.

Cleveland:  Cliff Lee.  Nothing else to choose from.  Forget Pavano.

Detroit:  Justin Verlander.

Kansas City:  Zack Greinke.  Easy choice.

Minnesota:  Scott Baker, only because Joe Nathan is having a down year, his ERA "soaring" to 2.28.

LA Angels:  Jered Weaver.

Oakland:  Andrew Bailey.  Great season.  Glad to see him make the All Star team.  Meet your AL ROY.

Seattle:  Felix Hernandez.  He is beginning to fulfill the lofty expectations set for him when he debuted for the Mariners as a 19-year old.

Texas:  Scott Feldman.


Now from this pool of pitchers, who is the best in the league?  Unfortunately, that’s not the question.  The question is who will win the Cy Young award.  The voters love looking at win totals, so that automatically puts Sabathia and Verlander at the top of the list especially since they are headed for the postseason.  But Verlander’s numbers are better than Sabathia plus his remaining opponents (Chicago, Minnesota) are not quite as tough as Sabathia’s (Angels, Red Sox).  The other true contenders are Halladay, Hernandez, and Greinke.  The voters also seem to have a fondness for stud pitchers who pitch for lousy teams.  Remember in May when the Royals were in first place and Greinke was 6-0 with an ERA of 0.40?  He has only won seven games since then.  That’s not going to be good enough for the W-loving voters despite the fact that he leads the AL in ERA and WHIP and second in strikeouts.  The only chance Greinke has is if he can win at least 15 games.  Otherwise, I think Verlander will get the nod.

National League


Atlanta:  Javier Vazquez.  Having as good a season as anyone else, but lack of run support is keeping his win total down.

Florida:  Josh Johnson.

NY Mets:  Johan Santana.  A poor year by Johan’s standards.

Philadelphia:  J.A. Happ throughout the season has been their best pitcher.  Midseason pickup Cliff Lee and a rejuvenated Cole Hamels are pitching better than Happ right now.

Washington:  John Lannan.

Chicago Cubs:  Ted Lilly.

Cincinnati:  Francisco Cordero.  33/35 in save opportunities, only 2 home runs given up all year.

Houston:  Wandy Rodriguez.

Milwaukee:  Yovani Gallardo.  A future Cy Young winner once he gets his walks down.

Pittsburgh:  Ross Ohlendorf.  Not much to choose from on this team.

St. Louis:  Chris Carpenter, for now.  A really tough pick here, since Wainwright has been equally impressive and helped carry the team while Carpenter was on the shelf early in the season.  Wainwright will surely garner many Cy Young votes, especially if he can make it to 20 wins.  Carpenter has only allowed 2 stolen bases all year.  A lot of credit goes to Yadier Molina for that, but for a right-handed pitcher, that is really impressive.  But something I’m sure will not be noticed by the voters.

Arizona:  Dan Haren in a landslide.

Colorado:  Ubaldo Jimenez.  Jason Marquis has cooled off in the second half.

LA Dodgers:  Clayton Kershaw.  Unquestionably this is the deepest pitching staff in MLB.  The fact that team wins leader, Chad Billingsley, has twelve wins is testament to that.

San Diego:  Heath Bell.  The starters have been that bad.

San Francisco:  Tim Lincecum in another good team race.  Matt Cain is the staff ace on any other team in the league, but Lincecum’s K/BB ratio and quality starts percentage are just too impressive.


There are plenty of great pitchers in the NL.  It is hard to believe most of the contenders won’t even come close to 20 wins.  Wainwright has the best chance.  He needs to win 3 of his remaining 4-5 starts.  If he can do it, he immediately becomes the favorite.   If not, it comes down to Carpenter, Haren, and Lincecum.  Carpenter’s league leading ERA and stellar W/L ratio makes the Cy Young his to lose.  Like Greinke, both Haren and Lincecum currently have 13 wins.  They will need at least 15 to have any chance at all.

Thanks, Shawn for your excellent input.  Keep checking in for more great analysis throughout the week.  Here’s the link to our 2009 End-of-Year Predictions by our guest bloggers.

2 Responses to “Guest Blogger: Shawn Lee analyzes the Cy Young candidates”

  1. back in 2006, when no pitcher won 20, it had been so many years since that had happened in a full season.

    I think that will be a much more common occurrence in years to come.

  2. Good call on Andrew Bailey, AL Rookie of the Year.

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