The race for the AL Cy Young Award comes down to two pitchers who have been head and shoulders above everyone else so far this season: Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox. These two have both been extremely dominant throughout the season and rank near the top of every statistical category. Chris Sale has gained attention because of his strikeout ability, with a total of 300 on the season. He became just the since fifth pitcher since 1999 to accomplish that feat joining an elite group comprised of Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (4x, 1999-2002), Curt Schilling (2002) and Clayton Kershaw (2015). He owns an insane strikeout rate of 12.898 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Kluber ranks a distant second to Sale in both those categories with 262 total strikeouts at a rate of 11.869 per 9 innings pitched.
However, if one looks beyond just strikeouts, Kluber has been the better pitcher in almost every way. He’s first in wins with 18, first in WAR (wins above replacement) at 7.8, first in WHIP (walks and hit per inning pitched) at 0.86, tied for first in complete games (5) and shutouts (3), and he’s first in ERA at 2.27. As it has gotten later into the season he has put distance even between Sale and himself in regards to ERA; Sale is second in the league with a 2.75 ERA, almost half a point behind Kluber. Kluber did miss a little time due to injuries so he trails in innings pitched to Sale, the AL leader, but by a small margin: 209.1 innings pitched for Sale and 198.2 innings pitched for Kluber. So, even though Sale’s year of 300 strikeouts may be the most memorable feat by a pitcher this season, I believe Kluber has had the better all around season and will capture his second Cy Young after previously winning in 2014.
The National League has had many great pitchers this season so apologies to the Arizona Diamondback’s Zack Greinke and the Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez but his is a two man race as well between Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Max Scherzer from the Nationals. Kershaw leads the league in ERA (2.21) and wins (18) and looked like he was cruising to his fourth Cy Young Award before going to the Disabled List. Since Kershaw spent so long on the DL, I believe that Scherzer has done just barely enough to edge him out for the award this year. Scherzer leads the NL pitchers in WAR (6.9), WHIP (0.907) and Strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (11.995), and is second in ERA (2.55). He’s looked good throughout the entire season, which is what sets him apart from Kershaw more than his actual numbers do. He’s made 30 starts compared to Kershaw’s 26 and has pitched 26 more innings because of this. Since the numbers across the board are pretty similar and Scherzer been the healthier option, I think he picks up his second consecutive Cy Young Award.