Was Dallas Keuchel the Right Choice for AL Cy Young?
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel has won the 2015 American League Cy Young Award.
Ever since he finished the season 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 216 strikeouts in 232 innings, he has been the leading candidate for the award, but not a slam dunk. Toronto's David Price was also a strong candidate, he went 18-5 with a league-best 2.45 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 225 strikeouts in 220 1/3 innings pitched.
Both were starters for playoff teams, and were the only two starters to garner any first place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
|David Price||Blue Jays||8||21||1||143|
|Chris Sale||White Sox||3||7||7||30|
|Marco Estrada||Blue Jays||1||1||3|
Keuchel got 22 first place votes from the writers while Price received the other eight. Oakland's Sonny Gray finished in third, with Chicago's Chris Sale and Tampa's Chris Archer rounding out the top five vote-getters.
But was Keuchel the right choice? In looking at the numbers, you could make the argument that Price actually had the better season.
|David Price||Blue Jays||2.48||18||5||2.45||2.78||9.19||1.92||6.4||6.0|
|Chris Sale||White Sox||2.52||13||11||3.41||2.73||11.82||1.81||6.2||3.3|
Keuchel bested Price in five areas, wins (20-18), WHIP (1.02-1.08), innings pitched (232-220.1), Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement (7.1-6.0), and nERD (2.51-2.48).
However, Price bested Keuchel in ERA (2.45-2.48), Fielding Independent Pitching (2.78-2.91), strikeouts per nine innings (9.19-8.38), walks per nine (1.92-1.98) and FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (6.4-6.1).
(The reason for the differences in WAR stats for pitchers is because Baseball Reference uses ERA to calculate their WAR totals, whereas FanGraphs used Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) to calculate theirs.)
At the very least, a solid argument could have been made for Price, especially if you take away the "wins" statistic, which is largely a team-based stat.
What Keuchel did best in 2015 was get the ground ball, forcing hitters to hit it on the ground in 61.7% of all plate appearances. The next closest qualified AL starter in that category, Felix Hernandez, was at 56.2%, and only eight pitchers had a ground ball rate above 50%. Keuchel also allowed the lowest hard-hit ball percentage in the AL at 21.2%. Price was 21st at 27.7%.
And boy was Keuchel a machine at home, becoming the first pitcher ever to go 15-0 at home in his home park. He also led the AL in batters' OPS against (.575) and was second in batting average against (.217).
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) November 18, 2015
Just two years ago, he was 6-10 with a ghastly 5.15 ERA for the then-rebuilding Astros. He's now the cornerstone to a rotation on one of the most exciting young teams in the American League.
And he is the American League's best pitcher for 2015.