2017 Reds

How A Reds Pitcher Could Win the Cy Young Award in 2017

As always, we are happy to consider submissions from our readers for feature posts here at Redleg Nation. This is Scott Woods’ first submission; please make him feel welcome!

One of the best things I learned while attending Ohio State, way back in the day, was the following: we like orderly explanations and logical conclusions. It is why the criminal being caught at the end of a TV show still draws viewers, year after year.

What does this have to do with the Cincinnati Reds? Well, like many of you, I think about the game of baseball a great deal. From time to time, it still amazes me that the Reds have never had a pitcher win the Cy Young Award, despite it being awarded since 1969.

Utilizing the teachings mentioned above, I have questioned the following:

Fact: the Reds have never had a Cy Young Award winner.

Fact: the Reds are not expected to field a playoff team next season.

Logical conclusion: no Reds pitcher has a chance to win the Cy Young Award in 2017.

Is that really the case, though? Linked below is a chart showing the National League Cy Young Award winners since 2000. Only one winner was not a starting pitcher, Eric Gagne in 2003, so I have omitted his totals.

{Click here for the Excel spreadsheet.}

We can dream about a Reds hurler winning the Cy Young one of these days, right? There are certainly some points that encourage me about the possibility of a Reds starting pitcher having a chance to win the award:

-Being on a playoff team is not a requirement. In eight of the previous sixteen seasons, the Cy Young winner was not on a playoff team, including three clubs that finished with a losing record.

-Being young is not a disqualifying factor. Jake Peavy, Tim Lincecum, and Clayton Kershaw each won the award when they were 26 or younger.

-Being the National League All-Star Game starter is not necessary, having occurred only six times, none in the last seven seasons.

There are some accomplishments, on the other hand, that do seem to be necessary for award consideration:

-Cy Young-winning pitchers generally need to be at or near the top in wins for the season, despite modern analysis increasingly dismissing this statistic as an effective metric. This year, Max Scherzer won the award and was the only NL pitcher to record 20 wins. You don’t have to dig deep to find articles already arguing persuasively that Noah Syndergaard or Clayton Kershaw was the better pitcher, despite having fewer wins.

-Must make virtually every available start, and be among the leaders for innings pitched, combined with a very high strikeout total. Only twice has the winner finished worse than third in total strikeouts. Nine times the winner led the league in strikeouts.

Put all that together, and a likely path emerges for a Reds starting pitcher to win the NL Cy Young Award in 2017:

-He must have a few monster starts to begin the season, placing him on the radar of baseball media nationally.

-He’ll have to have a career year in strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), and must develop a consistency during the first couple of months. As each team meets everyone else, a consensus should begin to develop in each stadium that he has been among the best the media have seen. He generates consideration to start the All-Star game.

-He must finish the year in the top five in wins (which likely means that the Reds need to win a lot more games). He will be helped by the impression that he was a primary reason the Reds took a large step forward in wins and credibility in 2017.

Who is he? Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, maybe even Homer Bailey. Stranger things have happened, right?

Is this scenario likely? No, of course not. However, is it impossible to conceive it occurring? I say no.

If I were making odds on the 2017 Cy Young Award winner, the favorite would not be a Red. It would be Madison Bumgarner. He’s been among the leaders in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts over the last few seasons, but has yet to win the award. A “Bumgarner is due” narrative could easily develop during the first part of the 2017 season.

However, there is less certainty in baseball than any other sport, that’s what makes it the best. There is enough historical precedent for at least the possibility that we could see a Reds pitcher break out and finally win a Cy Young Award.

We can always hope. And if you don’t have hope, why are you watching the 2017 Cincinnati Reds?

untitledScott Woods is a big fan of RN and occasionally posts comments under the name Sliotar. A fan of all types of bat-and-ball games, he is spending the off-season watching Test cricket from the Southern Hemisphere.

10 thoughts on “How A Reds Pitcher Could Win the Cy Young Award in 2017

  1. They should have had one in 1981. Tom Seaver was 14-2 with a 2.54 ERA, but that got lost in Fernando Valenzuela mania. Fernando was 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA that year, but won the Cy Young because he got off to an unbelievable start. He faded toward the end, and Seaver was stellar throughout that strike-shortened season. But the Fernando-mania ruled the day and swayed the voters.

    • Yeah, the Reds should have gotten lots out of 1981 but all they got was a homemade banner saying “best record in baseball”.

      For those too young to recall who have never heard or read the story, here’s the deal. At the time of the strike, the Reds were half a game behind LA. The two teams were even in the loss column (21); but the Dodgers had played one more game and had one more win than the Reds (36-35).
      At the conclusion of the strike, it was announced that a half season format would be used to determine two teams in each division which would play for each of the overall divisional titles (at the time there were just two divisions in each league). The Dodgers were awarded the “1st half” NL west crown.
      In the “second half”, Houston which had finished under .500 in the 1st half, outpaced the Reds by 1.5 games, finishing 33-20, while the Dodgers fell off to one game over .500. And thus despite ending up with the best overall record not just in the NL West but in all of baseball, the Reds were locked out of the playoffs.

      • Read an article that said early in the season the Reds were at San Francisco. The Reds were bashing the ball and scored a bunch of runs early. It started raining before the 5th inning and the game was called. If the Reds had only scored a few runs, the game would have been further along when it started raining and they would have been credited with a win, making them tied with the Dodgers for the 1st half. The only good that came out of that season was baseball realized what a foolish playoff format it was.

        • Thanks! It was in the back of my mind that there had been a quirky situation that cost the Reds the chance to be even with the Dodgers. However, I could recall what it was, did not want to take the time to research it and most of all did not want to maybe create a false legend.

  2. Or, a pitcher could take the Orel Hershiser route from 1988. Have a good season going, then pitch massive shutout baseball for about 60 innings from late August to late September. That accomplishment got him the Cy, when Danny Jackson would probably have won it otherwise.

  3. Got some breaking Reds roster moves. Ramon Cabrera and Keyvius Sampson have been DFA to make room for a couple of waiver claim awardees. Roster stays at 40.

    The claimed players are catcher Juan Graterol (LAA) and OF Gabriel Guerrero (DBacks). Graterol is soon to turn 28 but has options remaining. I’d guess at this point he looked like a better 3rd catcher than Cabrera. Guerrero is 22 and has played at AAA last season; he appears to have 2 options remaining. I’m guessing he is seen as a high toolsy ceiling type who could still put things together.

  4. As a free-swinger, Gabriel Guerrero could be the Reds replacement for Edwin Encarnacion.

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