Yesterday, we released The Nine Best NL Starters for 2013, so this will come as no surprise to those of you who did last night’s homework. Yet, for completeness sake, we’ll go through it for those of you who had that paper to finish for MLB Trade Rumors.
The NL has some great starters and a lot of top flight starters just missed the cut here. You can refer to the list linked above to see how I rank them, but my reasoning should be clear through my description below.
And the award will go to…
Stephen Strasburg (SP – Nationals)
There are two major concerns with picking Strasburg for NL Cy Young. First, would be the workload, which the Nationals claim will not be limited during this season. Second is his health. He’s now two years removed from Tommy John’s Surgery and showed no real ill effects last season. So, I’m banking on a full, healthy season from Strasburg.
Given that, he’s my Cy Young pick.
Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee are all fantastic pitchers who I expect to have very good seasons, but Strasburg, if performing at his best, is the class of the league.
In 45 career starts he has an 11.21 K/9 and 2.40 BB/9 in 251.1 innings to go with a 2.94 ERA, 2.47 FIP, and 8.0 WAR. Of active starters with at least 250 innings, no one has a higher strikeout rate and less than 30 have a lower walk rate. No one has a lower FIP.
About that FIP, the next closest active starter with a FIP that low is Kershaw. Kershaw’s FIP is more than half a run higher.
We can often get caught up by small sample sizes and extrapolation where it isn’t appropriate, but everything about Strasburg points to this being real. Scouts rave about his stuff and he put up amazing numbers in college. The minor league numbers are consistent.
Stephen Strasburg, when he’s been on the field, has an incredible mix of high strikeouts and low walks. And he’s only 24, so there is a lot of reason to believe he’s going to get better before he gets worse. Roll that all together and I’m picking him to win the NL Cy Young.
I’m not worried about injuries for him, and if we assume every starter in the league performs to their ceiling, I’m taking Strasburg easily. No disrespect to Mr. Kershaw, but Strasburg will be king in 2013.
Disagree? Just watch the dude pitch.