As mentioned numerous times before, I’ve believed for the last several weeks that the AL Cy Young will go to Zack Greinke. The only way it wouldn’t would be if he failed to win any games in September and someone else (Halladay, Verlander or Hernandez) had an absolutely dominant month with 4-5 wins, a shutout or two, huge strikeout totals, etc. Neither of these things has happpened as Greinke has continued to pitch very well and has won semi-regularly despite pitching for arguably the worst offense in baseball.

The updated AL Cy Young standings, thru Sept. 17:

  1. Zack Greinke, Royals 155 points
  2. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 146 points
  3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 136 points
  4. Feliz Hernandez, Mariners 132 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 120 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 75 points
  7. Jon Lester, Red Sox 73 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 55 points
  9. Scott Feldman, Rangers 52 points
  10. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 41 points

Josh Beckett picked up a cheapie complete game last night in a rain-shortened 5-inning game. Also in the last few days Zack Greinke had another strong outing, surrendering a single earned run in 7 innings. Other than that, it’s been a quiet few days. Through Sept. 12:

  1. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 146 points
  2. Zack Greinke, Royals 143 points
  3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 136 points
  4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 122 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 122 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 78 points
  7. Scott Feldman, Rangers 71 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 61 points
  9. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 54 points
  10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 49 points

Several contenders were in action on Wednesday night, September 9. Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays threw his 7th complete game of the season, taking over the AL lead from Zack Greinke, but he lost 4-1 to the Twins. All four runs were earned, pushing his ERA from 2.98 up to 3.03. Although not a factor in my formula, there may be a psychological impact on voters if an ERA is below 3.00. The 9 innings also push Halladay ahead of CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez into the AL lead in innings pitched with 208 (although that will change when CC and Felix next take the hill this weekend).

Justin Verlander was the other top contender in action. He also lost, this time to the putrid Royals, but only surrendered 1 earned run in 6 innings and racked up 8 strikeouts to pad his league-leading strikeout total. It was not the most efficient performance though as Verlander’s pitch count was 112 in only 6 innings, which explains why he was pulled after 6 innings only trailing 1-0.

Two more of the minor contenders were also in action. Jered Weaver of the Angels posted his 15th win by beating the Mariners, while Scott Feldman of the Rangers posted his 16th win, tying Sabathia and Verlander for the league lead (in fact, Feldman only has 4 losses so he gets the nod ahead of Sabathia’s 7 losses and Verlander’s 8 losses).

At this point in the season only the top 5 contenders have any reasonable shot. Actually, it might be a good idea to cut these lists down to the top 5 over the final weeks of the season. The standings through Sept 9:

  1. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 146 points
  2. Justin Verlander, Tigers 140 points
  3. Zack Greinke, Royals 139 points
  4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 130 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 124 points
  6. Scott Feldman, Rangers 71 points
  7. Jered Weaver, Angels 69 points
  8. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 62 points
  9. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 49 points
  10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 49 points

I must admit this is the first time since I started these rankings several weeks ago that I think they’re off. I believe Zack Greinke is still the clear favourite and the only way he won’t win is if he fails to win another game the rest of the season (which is certainly possible given the horrific Royals offense supporting him) and someone else (probably Halladay or Verlander) is dominant in their final few starts.

I should also clarify these rankings are not meant as an objective measurement of performance, but rather as a tool to predict how the baseball writers will vote. I’m well aware there are far better statistics to measure pitching performance and that common metrics like wins are actually not very informative. But I’m trying to get into the mind of the baseball writer, where wins are still clearly a factor.

Time for another update. In the last few days both Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez have pitched great games without picking up the win (which has been the story of their seasons, especially Greinke). Verlander and Halladay both go tonight so I’ll update the rankings tomorrow after their efforts.

Thru Sept 8:

  1. Zack Greinke 143 points
  2. Justin Verlander 140 points
  3. Felix Hernandez 137 points
  4. Roy Halladay 135 points
  5. CC Sabathia 125 points
  6. Josh Beckett 63.5 points
  7. Jered Weaver 56 points
  8. Scott Feldman 54 points
  9. Edwin Jackson 52 points
  10. Jon Lester 44 points

Thought it might be fun to apply the same formula I’ve been using for the AL Cy Young race the last few weeks to the NL race, even though I don’t pay much attention to minor league ball. Again, this applies only to starters. You can see the full explanation here.

Turns out the NL race is not nearly as competitive as I thought. Tim Lincecum looks like a runaway winner for the 2nd year in a row. Adam Wainwright’s 17 wins are impressive, and Chris Carpenter’s league-leading ERA and gaudy record also look good, but they both trail Lincecum in strikeouts, complete games and shutouts. Here are the NL standings thru Sept 4:

  1. Tim Lincecum, Giants 165 points
  2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 138 points
  3. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals 115 points
  4. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks 106 points
  5. Matt Cain, Giants 93 points
  6. J.A. Happ, Phillies 61 points
  7. Joel Pineiro, Cardinals 59 points
  8. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros 45 points
  9. Jason Marquis, Rockies 44 points
  10. Bronson Arroyo, Reds 32.5 points

Roy Halladay put an emphatic stop to his recent slide last night (Sep 4), shutting out the Yankees and giving up only one hit. His ERA dropped back under 3 (it’s now 2.98) and he tied Zack Greinke for the league lead in complete games with 6. It was also his 2nd shutout, still trailing Greinke’s 3 but pulling him out of a logjam of pitchers with only 1 shutout.

In the meantime Justin Verlander of the Tigers posted his 16th win, tying CC Sabathia for the league lead. Jered Weaver of the Angels also won his 14th. And Scott Feldman of the Rangers, who hasn’t been regarded as a top contender, posted his 15th win against only 4 losses and now ranks alone in 3rd in wins.

So with less than a month to go, the race is still Greinke’s to lose, but Halladay three his hat emphatically back into the ring. The standings thru Sept 4:

  1. Zack Greinke 150 points
  2. Justin Verlander 146 points
  3. Roy Halladay 142 points
  4. Felix Hernandez 128 points
  5. CC Sabathia 121 points
  6. Josh Beckett 68.5 points
  7. Jered Weaver 63.5 points
  8. Edwin Jackson 49 points
  9. Scott Feldman 47 points
  10. Jon Lester 37 points

Last night (Sept 2) in the AL Cy Young race saw CC Sabathia win his 16th game for the Yankees as he moves ahead of Justin Verlander into sole position of 1st place in the AL in that category.

But the most impressive showing of the night was Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who threw eight shutout innings at the Angels and picked up his 14th win. He was at 114 pitches after 8 and was pulled for closer David Aardsma.

Strictly from a Cy Young perspective, the complete game and perhaps shutout would have been huge. This award is Zack Greinke’s to lose and Felix only has a single shutout this year compared to Greinke’s 3. Regardless, the performance elevated Hernandez into a tie for Justin Verlander in the runner-up slot, for now.

Sabathia’s performance pushed him ahead of the sinking Roy Halladay into 4th.

  1. Zack Greinke, Royals 160 points
  2. Justin Verlander, Tigers 137 points
  3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 137 points
  4. CC Sabathia, Yankees 125 points
  5. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 114 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 73.5 points
  7. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 59 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 49 points
  9. Scott Feldman, Rangers 47 points
  10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 37 points

One other note – these are the first set of rankings in the last few weeks that don’t show Jarrod Washburn of the Tigers. He has cratered since leaving Seattle at the end of July.

The point system is explained here.