The week here in the CHEAP SEATS has been dedicated to chronicling the best of the best from 2013 Major League Baseball season. Now at the end, it is time for business to pick up, because now its time to get down to an award that’s named for simply the most dominant pitcher of all-time.
While Cy Young gets a rightfully respectful nod in the award that bears his name, he was simply no Walter Johnson. The Big Train won 476 games, while carrying a 2.17 ERA and an untouchable record of 110 shutouts. Basically, if there’s going to be an award given for a flash of pitching excellence, the honor of association should be with him. And this season, while the best pitcher in Johnson’s former league of affiliation did not record a single shutout, there was nobody else that oppressed AL lineups nearly as effectively as he did.
2013 American League Walter Johnson Pitcher of the Year: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
The Numbers: 21-3, 2.90 ERA, 214.1 IP, 240 K/56 BB, 0.97 WHIP, 0 CG/0 SHO, .198 BAA
It is not something that meets the pitching mound often, yet when Max Scherzer reached his 13th win, and had not yet suffered his first loss, it was clear it was beyond time to pay attention to the special summer he was authoring. When he took the mound to start the All-Star Game in July, it was clear he had stepped out of the shadow of Justin Verlander and was not only the best arm in Detroit, but he had become among the best in all of baseball.
Gone were the days where high pitch counts and careless fastballs curtailed his clearly superior fastball and biting slider combo. This summer, while he more effectively unleashed his change-up, he evolved from a strikeout pitcher only (he’s topped 230 K’s the past two summers) and had become among the stingiest arms in the game, as he was one of only two pitchers to allow less than one runner per inning in baseball. This control over the game allowed him to become one of three pitchers to ever post a 19-1 record.
There’s a growing idea that the win is an overrated statistic for measuring the effectiveness of a pitcher, and to a certain extent, there is some truth to that. Yet Scherzer’s fantastic 2013 saw him factor into the decision in all but eight games he started, and the Tigers as a team turn in a 25-7 record on days he took the mound, with him personally being credited with 23 of them. That’s the type of dominance that proves it’s still all about the W, especially when it so often is tied to one man’s impact. And nobody made the impact more often than Scherzer did this summer.
2. Yu Darvish—Rangers: 13-9, 2.83 ERA, 209.2 IP, 277 K/80 BB, 1.07 WHIP, 0 CG/0 SHO, .194 BAA
The irony is that Darvish, who carried a perfect game through 26 outs and saw another no-hit bid end in the seventh inning, didn’t finish with a single complete game or shutout. But what is clear is that he was the most oft-dominant AL pitcher this season; his 277 strikeouts were the most in the league in 14 years.
3. Bartolo Colon-Athletics: 18-6, 2.65 ERA, 190.1 IP, 117 K/29 BB, 1.17 WHIP, 3 CG/3 SHO, .264 BAA
The continually evolving Colon put up the most shockingly effective season of his career at age 40. Colon posted the lowest ERA of his career throwing fastball’s 90% of the time, and keeping batters off their bases. He won 11 games in the first half, and tied for the AL lead with three shutouts.
4. Koji Uehara—Red Sox: 4-1, 1.09 ERA, 74.1 IP, 101 K/9 BBs, 0.57 WHIP, 21 Saves/13 Holds, .130 BAA
Uehara’s dominant season transcended just the confines of relief work, and made him the most effective pitcher in all of baseball. His impact on the year was more properly honored in the Goose Goosage Award summary.
5. Hisashi Iwakuma—Mariners: 14-6, 2.66 ERA, 219.2 IP, 185 K/42 BB, 1.01 WHIP, 0 CG/0 SHO, .220 BAA
There may not be a more infuriating pitcher in all of baseball than Iwakuma. He throws at least five different pitches that he combines with a deceptive motion and precise control. He finished second in the AL in ERA.
6. Anibal Sanchez—Tigers: 14-10, 2.57 ERA, 182 IP, 202 K/54 BB, 1.15 WHIP, 1 CG/1 SHO, .229 BAA
7. Chris Sale—White Sox: 11-14, 3.07 ERA, 214.1 IP, 226 K/46 BB, 1.07 WHIP, 4 CG/1 SHO, .230 BAA
8. Felix Hernandez—Mariners: 12-10, 3.04 ERA, 204.1 IP, 216 K/46 BB, 1.13 WHIP, 0 CB/0 SHO, .242 BAA
9. Ubaldo Jimenez—Indians: 13-9, 3.30 ERA, 182.2 IP, 194 K/80 BB, 1.33 WHIP, 0 CG/0 SHO, .239 BAA
10. Justin Masterson—Indians: 14-10, 3.45 ERA, 193 IP, 195 K/76 BB, 1.20 WHIP, 3 CG/3 SHO, .222 BAA
Award season continues on the next few days here in the CHEAP SEATS, as the season’s past raps and the one to come gets its shine…
Thursday: Willie Mays Rookies of the Year” href=”https://cheapseatsplease.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/the-award-tour-2013-nlal-willie-mays-rookies-of-the-year/”>NL/AL Willie Mays Rookies of the Year: Jose Fernandez & Wil Myers
Tomorrow: NL/AL Connie Mack Managers of the Year
Monday: NL Walter Johnson Pitcher of the Year
Tuesday: AL Stan Musial Most Valuable Player
Wednesday: NL Stan Musial Most Valuable Player