Written by: Coleman Bahr – Staff Writer (@ColemanBahr)
If you were on Twitter last night, you probably saw Kate Upton’s rant alluding to the AL Cy Young award. While the tweets were NSFW, she was making very valid points. How did Justin Verlander not win the Cy Young?
Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox won the AL Cy Young despite receiving less than 30% of the first-place votes, the first time since 1970, and only the second time in the award’s 60-year history. Justin Verlander had the most first place votes, but he still managed to lose because two writers left him completely off the ballot, for some illogical reason that I would love to hear.
Statistically, Porcello is only superior to Verlander in wins, which is a very flawed statistic to judge pitcher success by. No one in the major leagues received more run support than Porcello as the Boston offense scored an average of 6.61 runs every time Porcello took the hill, and they averaged 8.14 runs in Porcello’s wins. A 20-win season should have almost been an expectation for Porcello considering the absurd amount of run support he had. Now, if you look at Verlander’s record, a 16-9 mark is unimpressive, but he lost six of those games while allowing one run, while Porcello only lost one game under the same circumstances.
Verlander actually ousted Porcello in ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate, batting average against, and starts with two earned runs or fewer, you know, all the important stuff. Verlander had the complete resume that Cy Young pitchers have, and the fact that he won’t be taking home the award is the dictionary definition of highway robbery.
Verlander also had to battle through a tough first half of the season. Through the first half of the season, he had an ERA of 4.07 thanks to three starts of seven or more runs allowed, but he bounced back in a huge way after the All-Star break. Out of his 16 starts in the second half, he registered a quality start in all but one, and he allowed three runs or less in every one of those starts with an ERA of 1.96, best in the AL. He also led the MLB in strikeouts in the second half, striking out 134 batters, and the next closest AL pitcher was Yu Darvish at 113.
I’m not trying to undermine Rick Porcello’s incredible 2016 campaign. He was the pinnacle of consistency, tailing off 13 consecutive quality starts to close out the regular season, and he was one of the reasons that Boston could make it to the playoffs. But, Porcello lacked that “it” factor that Verlander brought to the mound. The bottom line is this: Verlander had the most first place votes, and he clearly was the better pitcher, no questions asked.