As the 2017 season nears it’s close, the race for the American League Cy Young Award can be narrowed down two likely candidates.
Those are Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox and Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians.
Back in July, Sale was the clear frontrunner to receive the award. In August, however, Sale had his worst month of the season, allowing Kluber to edge slightly ahead. Now that the race is down to the wire, here’s a look at why Sale still qualifies as a legitimate contender.
The Cy Young isn’t all about strikeouts, but if it were, Sale would easily take the cake. Sale recently became the first player in the American League since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to record 300 strikeouts in a single season. He now reigns as the king of K’s, leading the MLB with 308. Kluber falls behind at 265.
Moreover, Sale has made 4 extra starts over Kluber with a higher strikeout rate. FanGraphs reports Sale’s K/9 (strikeouts per 9 innings) as the best in the league, at 12.93. This is an impressive feat, considering anything higher than 8.2 is considered above average.
Also according to FanGraphs, Sale’s 7.7 WAR gives him the edge over Kluber’s 7.3. This formula for calculating WAR is driven by FIP (a statistic based only on factors independent from the pitchers’ control: strikeouts, walks, hit batters, and home runs allowed), for which Sale also ranks higher than Kluber, with 2.45 and 2.50, respectively.
Whether Sale walks away with the Cy Young or not, it’s safe to say he’s had an overall successful season. What will truly measure just how successful this season has been, however, will be his performance in the postseason.