After the American League Cy Young Award was announced Wednesday night, a little bit of controversy followed.
Boston’s Rick Porcello captured the honor, partially because two writers – both in the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America – left Detroit’s Justin Verlander completely off their ballots.
Around these parts, the displeasure with the BBWAA Cy Young voters had more to do with the fourth-place finish of Orioles closer’ Zach Britton, who was left off six of the 30 ballots submitted.
Britton received five first-place votes – including those from the two representatives of the Baltimore chapter – and also three second-place votes, two third-place votes, five fourths and nine fifths.
Among the six that left Britton completely off their ballots were Minnesota Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal III of the StarTribune in Minneapolis and Jordan Bastian, the Cleveland Indians beat writer for mlb.com. The two of them joined me briefly last night for this podcast to explain their reasoning.
Neal believes starters have a significant advantage in Cy Young consideration, simply because of the number of innings a starter logs. He’s always been a big fan of Britton as a pitcher – I can personally attest to that – but he just doesn’t think a closer is comparable to a starter when considering this award.
Bastian isn’t ruling out a reliever for Cy Young, especially for a spot in his Top 5, but he wasn’t convinced that Britton was the best reliever in the AL this year. He believes Andrew Miller, who pitched for the Indians and New York Yankees in 2016, was just as good as Britton, and uses statistics to back up his case in this piece on mlb.com.
Because Bastian couldn’t separate the two, he decided to go with a starter for the fifth spot, behind what he thought were four, exceptionally worthy starting candidates.
Both Neal and Bastian make good points – even if you don’t agree with their final decisions — and I thought it’d be interesting to hear what they had to say. So, give it a listen.