Who will win the AL Cy Young?
The 2020 MLB regular season ended on Sunday, so that means it’s time to hand out individual awards for the top hitters and pitchers in all of baseball. Judging how things unfolded in the shortened 2020 season, one of the easiest – or perhaps, the most consensus – awards is the one of the AL Cy Young.
There’s absolutely no discussion here. Shane Bieber should be the consensus pick and win the award by a landslide. It’s not even close. Unlike the National League, where up to five pitchers can make a case to win the award, Bieber has almost no competition in the American League. He was extremely dominant across the entire season and the numbers back him up.
Let’s take a look at what Bieber accomplished during the shortened, 60-game 2020 MLB season. The 25-year-old right handed went 8-1 with an excellent 1.63 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP, as well as fanning 122 in only 77.1 innings pitched. It’s unlikely that he would’ve been able to sustain those figures over the course of a 162-game season, but Bieber was nearly unhittable. So much, that his already-stellar ERA doesn’t even tell the whole story.
The Cleveland Indians ace posted the lowest ERA by any qualifying American League starter since baseball lowered the mound in 1969. The previous low was 1.74, accomplished by Pedro Martínez in 2000. Bieber also posted a 14.2 K/9, the best single-season strikeout rate by a qualifying starter in MLB history. He surpassed Gerrit Cole’s 13.8 K/9 record from the 2019 season.
Bieber also held opposing hitters to a .167 average and a .494 OPS. Essentially, Bieber made opposing hitters look like pitchers at the plate – in a year where the NL adopted the DH for the first time in MLB history. That shouldn’t be taken for granted. Only two position players who got at least 500 career at-bats have had an OPS of .494 or lower.
Kenta Maeda (Minnesota Twins), Dallas Keuchel (Chicago White Sox), and Chris Bassitt (Oakland Athletics) also posted excellent seasons and should merit consideration for the award. No pitcher was more dominant than Bieber, who also led the MLB in pitcher’s ERA with a 3.2 mark.
Bieber was stellar on the mound from start to finish this season. The best way to recognize his stellar year would be to grant him the Cy Young Award.
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Story by Juan Pablo Aravena