So I kept putting off the Cabrera/Trout arguments because the whole affair seemed more annoying than interesting, considering last year probably told us everything about what's going to happen this year. Still, I was eventually going to get to those fellows ... until Grant Brisbee stepped in with his good work. What a relief! Because now I'm free to write about an award battle that's not precisely a repeat of 2012 ...
Felix vs Scherzer: Felix has 15 more IP, both allowed 51 R, fewer BB/HR, more K. Current AL Cy Young pick is easy. http://t.co/g4CavPWLZ8— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) August 12, 2013
I'm not sure it's that easy. Their walks, strikeouts, and home runs allowed are essentially identical; Scherzer's got two more walks, Hernández three more strikeouts, Scherzer two more home runs. All of those differences are worth noting in such an extraordinarily close competition, and all might be wiped out with one bad game.
Scherzer has given up many fewer hits than Hernández; I mean, many fewer. Because Hernández has given up a .312 batting average on balls in play, Scherzer just .248. Here are those same numbers, followed by each pitcher's career BABiP ...
K. Felix - .312 / .299
Scherzer - .248 / .303
Hernández's BABiP is right in line with his career mark, and league norms. Scherzer's is way better (luckier) than his career mark, and third-lowest in the American League.
Scherzer's BABiP is strange. Scherzer's 17-1 record is strange. Another strange thing: Despite sporting the lowest WHIP in the American League, Scherzer's got just the seventh-lowest ERA in the league.
Anyway, Hernández seems to have faced slightly better hitters this season ... but Comerica Park seems tougher on pitchers than Safeco Field (yes, even with the left-field fence pulled in some). If we don't give Scherzer any credit for that low BABiP, Hernández is slightly ahead because of his edge in innings. If we do give Scherzer credit for his BABiP, they're dead-even or Scherzer might even be a tick better.
Of course, if the balloting were held today, Scherzer would win the Cy Young in a landslide because he's 17-1. We know how the voters love their gaudy records. But the balloting won't be held today. By the end of the season, Scherzer probably will lose a few more games and his BABiP will probably inch up some. Which at least gives King Felix a fighting chance. But he'll need to keep pitching brilliantly for his ERA to trump Scherzer's record. Like it or not.
Meanwhile, over in the National League there aren't any gaudy records. Just the gaudy ERAs sported by leading Cy Young candidates Clayton Kershaw (1.88) and Matt Harvey (2.09). Harvey would seem the obvious choice, because he's got the higher strikeout rate and the lower walk rate ... except he's also pitched 23 fewer innings than Kershaw, who's also going to get some credit for pitching for a significantly better team. Adam Wainwright should be included in this discussion, too, but probably won't be, just because of his relatively high ERA (2.66).
This one, like the other one, still hasn't been decided. But because neither Kershaw nor Harvey is likely to win more than 15 or 16 games, the guy with the lower ERA might have a big edge. And that could easily go either way. Purely in terms of performance, at this moment they could hardly be closer. So that'll be something fun to watch, especially considering there's very little else happening in the National League down the stretch.