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Blake Snell is now the Cy Young favorite

According to metrics from Bill James and Tom Tango

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After last night’s dominant performance that pushed him to 20 wins and 200 strikeouts on the season, Blake Snell has a cumulative record of 20-5 with a 1.97 ERA / 3.06 FIP over 29 starts and 169 innings pitched.

Wins and losses don’t matter, until they do. Several of those who hold a vote for the prestigious award still base their votes at least in part on traditional measures like wins, losses, and ERA. Fortunately for Snell, he has the lowest ERA in the American League and currently leads the majors in wins.

Snell also plays against stiffer competition than most other opposing pitchers, with the Rays playing 23% of their regular season against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Snell leads the majors in innings pitched against those two clubs and he’s dominated them, yielding a slash of .178/.260/.321 off of him over 38 13 innings pitched. Meanwhile, those two offenses have combined total a slash of .258/.332/.448 overall.

Snell has been nearly unhittable this year whenever a runner happens to get on base against him. Once that happens, Snell has held opposing hitters to a slash of .128/.213/.237, which is easily the best mark for qualified American League starting pitchers.

His Competition

Here is how Blake Snell stacks up against his competition for the award by using some of the leading predictor methods from Tom Tango and Bill James:

Baseball Musings Day By Day Database, Cy Young Tracker (Through Games of 09/18/2018)

Pitcher Wins Losses Shutouts Innings Earned Runs Strikeouts TT Cy Young Pts BJ Cy Young Pts Season Score
Pitcher Wins Losses Shutouts Innings Earned Runs Strikeouts TT Cy Young Pts BJ Cy Young Pts Season Score
Blake Snell 20 5 0 169 37 200 87.5 183.6 301.9
Justin Verlander 16 9 1 202 60 269 83.9 165.6 264.2
Chris Sale 12 4 0 150 32 222 77.2 145.8 239.1
Trevor Bauer 12 6 0 166 41 214 75.4 141.1 219.3
Corey Kluber 19 7 1 203 66 205 75 176.9 272.6
Gerrit Cole 14 5 1 187 1/3 60 260 73.7 152.7 241.3
Michael Clevinger 12 8 1 188 1/3 64 196 61.8 126 190.9
Charlie Morton 15 3 0 163 57 195 59 145.8 220.2
Luis Severino 17 8 1 179 1/3 69 207 58.4 134.9 215.7
Carlos Carrasco 16 9 0 176 67 206 57.6 137.9 201.4

Check the Source for a table from Baseball Musings that updates daily. Here is the guts of the three predictors above:

Tom Tango Cy Young Points = (IP/2 - ER) + SO/10 + W

Bill James Cy Young Points = ((5*IP/9)-ER) + (SO/12) + (SV*2.5) + Shutouts + ((W*6)-(L*2)) + (First Place*12)

The Bill James formula reflects Cy Young voting better before 2006, the Tom Tango formula does better since 2006. Season Score (also from Bill James) has turned out to be a good predictor as well.

Heading into last night’s game, Snell was 9th in the major leagues in PWARP with a mark of 5.49. He moves up to 5th if you exclude National League starting pitchers. Snell sits in the middle of the pack for pitchers with 5.0+ WARP, while only one AL pitcher has more than six (Verlander, 6.9).

One of the main deterrents in Snell’s chances for the Cy Young award will be his innings pitched. He missed some time on the disabled list following the All-Star break which keep him from reaching the 200 inning plateau that two of his main competitors have already surpassed, with a third likely to reach it before the season concludes.

Blake Snell has delivered on the promise of his prospect pedigree with a breakout campaign. The former top pitching prospect has overcome several early career struggles culminating in his demotion to the minor leagues halfway into the 2017 season. Around late July last year, Snell made a change and has been dominant ever since.

Now, with the 2018 regular season nearing its conclusion, Blake Snell has dominated in the second half and has emerged as the front runner for the American League Cy Young award.

The 2018 Cy Young award winners will be announced on November 14th.