Around the All-Star break I posted an article expressing my views on the American Cy Young race, specifically as it relates to Felix Hernandez‘s chances of bringing home the award. At the time the article was written it was a two man race between Felix and Max Scherzer of the Tigers.
However, things have changed since then and not for the better as it relates to Hernandez. When I originally began writing this article, it was intended to express the opinion that Felix was, or should have been, the front runner for the award because he had a lead in ERA, FIP and xFIP, among others. I do not value pitcher wins so Scherzer’s lead in that department did not faze me.
But since then, there has been a major changing of the tide and Scherzer is now probably the front runner. After a blowup start on the 28th in which he gave up 8 earned runs in 3 innings, Felix effectively lost his previous lead. His ERA jumped over 3.00, while Scherzer has maintained his great performance.
As of now, Scherzer owns a 2.88 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 3.15 xFIP and 5.7 fWAR, while Felix has pitched to a 3.01 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 2.69 xFIP and 5.8 fWAR.
So in my opinion, after a decent bounce back start, Felix is still right there, at least as far as advanced stats are concerned. He has a lead in FIP, xFIP and fWAR, which certainly holds some weight, or at least it should.
The problem is that I am confident that Felix needed that lead in ERA to sway the voters in his favor. Unfortunately, many voters still put a lot of weight on wins, especially when someone will likely end with 20 of them. Felix was able to win the Cy Young in 2010 with a pedestrian 13-12 record, but this is a much different situation. Felix had a sizable lead in other categories across the board, whereas it is much closer this year.
All that said, Felix isn’t totally out of the running. If he ends the season on a high note, and Scherzer loses a couple games and his ERA rises, voters may see through Scherzer’s “historic” record, and give the award to the better pitcher. But the stars will have to align in a particular way that is probably fairly unlikely to happen.
Regardless of whether The King wins the award or not, he has had a great year, and is well on his way to earning every bit of the contract he received.