Several big contenders in action on Sunday in the AL Cy Young race. And Zack Greinke blew them all away.

Greinke threw a 1-hit shutout in Seattle, not only lowering his ERA but putting him alone atop the Complete Games and Shutouts lists. This after striking out 15 his last time out. Not sure there’s much point keeping these rankings going through September if Greinke keeps this up cause ain’t nobody gonna keep him and Cy apart.

Sunday also saw Justin Verlander win his 15th for the Tigers, tying him with CC Sabathia for the league lead. He only struck out four, but he continues to lead that category by 13 over Greinke. The three earned runs allowed in eight innings pushes his ERA down slightly to 3.38.

The other contender, now in a major swoon, is Roy Halladay, the man who would be a Phillie. Halladay surrendered four earned runs in six innings as his ERA continues to rise (to 3.13) and he suffered another loss to drop to 13-8. The latest standings:

  1. Zack Greinke, Royals 163 points
  2. Justin Verlander, Tigers 136 points
  3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 123 points
  4. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 121 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 114 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 74 points
  7. Jered Weaver, Angels 59.5 points
  8. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 56 points
  9. Scott Feldman, Rangers 47 points
  10. Jarrod Washburn, Tigers/Mariners 42 points
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Win #13 for Felix Hernandez of the Mariners on Friday night pushes him all the way up to the runner-up slot in the AL Cy Young rankings. There is a lot of flux because so many of the leading contenders are clustered in wins and innings pitched (which is the one variable that invariably goes up with each start). Look for Felix to drop a few spots between now and his next start.

But like Greinke, wins are critical for Felix. If he can maintain the #1 or #2 ERA and finish with a few more wins thean Greinke and Halladay, he’s got a shot. A complete game or two would really help as well.

The standings through August 28:

  1. Zack Greinke, Royals 142 points
  2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 132 points
  3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 125 points
  4. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 122 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 116 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 93.5 points
  7. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 59 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 54 points
  9. Jarrod Washburn, Tigers/Mariners 42 points
  10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 37 points

Biggest event of the last few days was Zack Greinke’s 15-strikeout performance against the Indians. Perhaps even more importantly for him was he got his 12th win. Wins have been very tough to come by for Greinke in the last few months, but it seems pretty clear if he can maintain his level of performance and win 5 or 6 more games, the Cy Young is his to lose. Here are the standings through games on Thursday, August 27. (The ranking system is explained in this post – it only considers starting pitchers, not relievers).

1. Zack Greinke, Royals 145 points

2. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 132 points

3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 128 points

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees 114 points

5. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 110 points

6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 88.5 points

7. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 59 points

8. Jered Weaver, Angels 57.5 points

9. Jarrod Washburn, Tigers/Mariners 42 points

10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 37 points

Here are my updated AL Cy Young rankings for starting pitchers after Roy Halladay got lit up by the Rays last night. His ERA jumped from 2.78 to 3.03 (2nd in the league to 4th). That caused him to drop out of the Cy Young lead behind Zack Greinke.

Justin Verlander also wasn’t great, but he got the win over the Angels to help his cause. He continues to have a healthy lead in strikeouts, and moves up from 4th to 3rd in the Cy Young rankings, right behind Halladay.

1.  Zack Greinke, Royals 134 points

2. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 132 points

3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 131 points

4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 116 points

5. CC Sabathia, Yankees, 102 points

6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 91.5 points

7. Jered Weaver, Angels 66.5 points

8. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 56 points

9. Jarrod Washburn, Tigers/Mariners 42 points

10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 37 points

Roy Halladay got rocked tonight by the Rays, giving up 7 runs for the first time in several years. But he was merely continuing the trend of the last few days, when most of the major American League Cy Young contenders have been hit hard.

Yesterday Seattle’s Felix Hernandez gave up 6 runs in 6 innings (although luckily for him only 3 were earned) and ESPN’s Sunday night game had Boston’s Josh Beckett surrendering 8 earned runs in 8 innings. While also tonight Detroit’s Justin Verlander gave up 4 earned runs in only 5 2/3 innings.

Back in April and May, it seemed doubtful there would even be a Cy Young race. Kansas City’s Zack Greinke had one of the great starts in history with an ERA under 1.00 for weeks and multiple shutouts. Roy Halladay was the only other starter even remotely close to him, but both have rarely won in the last few months to allow Hernandez, Beckett and Verlander back in the race. The next tier of contenders would include the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, the Angels’ Jered Weaver and Detroit’s Edwin Jackson.

Building on a post a few days on the excellent Mariners Blog from the Seattle Times about the chances for Felix Hernandez to win the Cy Young, I developed a crude formula for ranking starting pitchers in the AL Cy Young chase. Note I only mentioned “starters”. I haven’t considered relievers, not that there are any serious reliever candidates this year anyway.

Geoff Baker’s point in the Mariners Blog post linked above was that a starter needs to finish in the top two in the league in either wins or ERA to have any hope of winning the Cy Young.  I considered a few other factors and weighted them out of a total of 20 points.

ERA – 7 points (35% of total weight)

Wins – 5 points (25% of the total)

Innings Pitched – 3 points (15%)

Complete Games – 2 points (10%)

Strikeouts – 2 points (10%)

Shutouts – 1 point (5%)

Total – 20 points (100%)

I then looked at the top 10 in the AL in each category and assigned 10 points to the leader in each category, 9 points to the guy in 2nd, 8 points to the guy in 3rd, etc. So for example, Zack Greinke continues to lead in ERA. He then gets 10 points multiplied by the ERA weight of 7 points for a total of 70 ranking points.

Through Sunday, August 23 (i.e., not including the Halladay and Verlander outings today), the top 10 in the AL under my system are:

1. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 139 points

2. Zack Greinke, Royals 134 points

3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 124 points

4. Justin Verlander, Tigers 113 points

5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 102 points

6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 93.5 points

7. Jered Weaver, Angels 66 points

8. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 52 points

9. Jarrod Washburn, Tigers/Mariners 42 points

10. Scott Feldman, Rangers 37.5 points

That list looks about right so far. I’ll check tomorrow to see the impact of Halladay’s horror show and continue to monitor the standings over the final weeks of the season.

Mats Sundin, after 35 games with the Canucks, has 9 goals and 16 assists for 25 points.

Over a full season, that translates to 21 goals and 37 assists for 58 points. The 21 goals would be the lowest total of his entire career, and the 58 points would be his lowest total other than the shortened 1995 lockout season.

So returns are not great, but perhaps his presence is part of the reason the Sedin twins have been on fire lately. And I guess all that really matters is what happens in the playoffs.

Comments on this study have been moved to here.