blue jays' manoah

Blue Jays Won’t have Back to Back Cy Young Awards

The Toronto Blue Jays will not have a Cy Young Award winning pitcher this year, if that sort of thing is important to you


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The Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed a wonderful season from Robbie Ray in 2021. He left for free agency, but Toronto seems just fine as they’re currently enjoying rather nice seasons from Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman. For some, when these two starters take the mound, there is a rare confidence, there’s a belief that the game will end up to be a win in Toronto’s favour. They’ve been good all season. However, in the race for the award that recognizes the best pitcher in each league, the Blue Jays are falling behind.

 

Recently at Fangraphs, Jay Jaffe wrote about why Kevin Gausman isn’t part of the Cy Young race. In the piece, Jaffe highlights what Blue Jays fans already knew- there are some good numbers to support Gausman’s claim: “Gausman has led the league in FIP and WAR since mid-April and still does, with marks of 2.41 and 5.2 despite his recent bumpy ride. Among qualifiers, he additionally owns the league’s lowest walk rate (3.8%), third-highest strikeout-walk differential (24.3%), and fourth-highest strikeout rate (28.1%). That’s impressive stuff, and it certainly suggests a viable Cy Young candidate“.

 

But, as impressive as these numbers are, they end up falling short in some key areas. Firstly, in the more traditional stats, Gausman doesn’t impress. His 12-10 record is not the kind award voters are impressed by. Neither, really, is his 3.45 ERA. The more ‘old school’ voters will dismiss him right off the bat with these numbers. Justin Verlander and his 16 wins has a better chance. Sure, an ERA over 3 isn’t an automatic disqualifier, but when it isn’t, it is supported by the 20 win plateau.

 

Jaffe points out that Gausman’s FIP and ERA are a rather large 1.04 difference (3.45 ERA to 2.41 FIP). This of course leads to questions about Toronto’s defense, particularly the use of the shift, which Gausman has already publicly stated he’s not a fan of. With a batting average of .391 when the shift is used behind him, his concerns certainly make sense.

 

In short, Gausman doesn’t have the right mix of numbers to land him a Cy Young Award. He’s been rather good for the Blue Jays and is helping them win, which really is the most important thing. It sure would be exciting to have Gausman in that race, and he may get some votes here and there, but he’s not going to win the prize. There are others who are ahead of him.

 

For Blue Jays fans, one of those names ahead of Gausman could very well be his teammate, Alek Manoah. If there is a starter in the American League that instills confidence in his teammate and fans alike, it is Alek Manoah. The 24 year old bulldog has asserted himself among the league’s better starters, but how does he stack up against other Cy Young candidates?

 

I’ll use the same metrics used in Jaffe’s piece and I’ll indicate where Manoah ranks on the list in each. The list includes these 7 starters:  Justin Verlander, Shane McClanahan, Dylan Cease, Framber Valdez, Shohei Ohtani, Shane Bieber and Gausman.

W/L: 14-7 (T 2nd w/ Cease)
IP: 183.2 (1st)
K% 22.7% (8th)
BB%: 6.4% (6th)
HR/9: 0.78 (T 4th w/ Bieber)
ERA: 2.40 (4th)
xERA: 3.40 (6th)
FIP: 3.42 (8th)
fWAR: 3.7 (8th)
bWAR: 5.0  (2nd)

While his ‘old school’ W/L record and ERA put Manoah directly in the middle of the Cy Young convo, it is his other metrics that push him to the periphery. It is entirely possible that he makes a late push and helps his case, but he would have to have some rather significant starts down in his last few games. Even then, it might not be enough. Manoah lacks the big K% of his peers and the metric that directly measures his efforts (FIP) doesn’t show him in a great light.

 

What is likely is that the Blue Jays will not have a Cy Young Award winner this season. And, that’s more than OK. Fans need to remember that seasons like Josh Donaldson‘s 2015 or Robbie Ray’s 2021 or Paul Goldschmidt‘s 2022 don’t happen every year. They are uniquely special. Having a league leading performance is very difficult to do and many teams -and their fans – don’t get to enjoy them too often.

 

Instead, what we do get to enjoy is one of the better 1-2 punches in baseball. We get to enjoy that feeling when each of these, very different, pitchers takes the mound, the feeling of confidence, the feeling that a win is coming. And, that is far more valuable, far more important. Would it be nice if Manoah or Gausman won a Cy Young Award? Hell, yeah, it would. But, that accomplishment is nothing compared to having the Blue Jays compete for, win and fly a banner. So, while the Blue Jays may not have a repeat award, it is easy to forget about that when there is a much bigger prize on the horizon.

 

 

 


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