Ranking the MLB Cy Young Finalists

By Eddie Ravert

On November 18 the MLB will announce the American and National League Cy Young winners at 6 p.m. ET on the MLB Network. Unlike the MVP award, the Cy Young winner is very much up for grabs, with a number of pitchers posting historic 2015 seasons. Sportsnaut decided to rank this year’s best pitchers and decide who is most deserving of being named the 2015 Cy Young winners.

American League

1. Dallas Keuchel (20-8), Houston Astros

Easily the most surprising AL Cy Young contender heading into the 2015 season, Keuchel proved his value to the Houston Astros by posting an incredibly impressive 20-8 record. What was even more impressive was how dominate he was in Minute Maid Park. The lefty went 16-0 in his home park, becoming the only pitcher in MLB history to do so.

Furthermore, his 216 strikeouts set an Astros single-season record for strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher. With a strikeout total that high, one would think Keuchel is a flame thrower who touches 100 MPH on the norm. Well that couldn’t be further from the case as his fastball averaged 90 MPH. So how was the Astros ace so impressive? He had the best location in all of baseball, and wasn’t afraid to use all his pitches (5) in any count and any situation.

Keuchel joined teammate Jose Altuve in winning a 2015 Gold Glove, already racking up some serious hardware. He is the top choice to win the AL Cy Young for his consistent performances day in and day out, which ultimately led to being the top NL pitcher in wins (20) innings pitched (232) and WHIP (1.02), which is lights out for a starting pitcher (anything under 1.20 is considered elite).

With a strong, young supporting pitching staff, the Astros will be playoff contenders for many years to come and will need continued MVP-like seasons from Keuchel if they want to win the World Series.

2. David Price (18-5), Detroit Tigers/Toronto Blue Jays

Arguably the biggest free agent on the market, David Price gave Toronto its much needed edge to secure an AL East championship for the first time since 1993, when they also won the World Series. After joining the Blue Jays at the trade deadline, Price went 9-1 compiling a 2.30 ERA.

But the Cy Young award is based off an entire season, which he spent with two teams. The Blue Jays were World Series favorites right out of spring training, so it is expected that Price would have a high win total with the ALDS champs. However Price also tallied up nine wins with a very sub-par Tigers team, who finished last in the AL Central. That is easily the most impressive stat on his 2015 resume.

The former Vanderbilt Commodore had the lowest AL ERA (2.45) and had the best winning percentage (.783), which is incredibly impressive given he was on the cellar dweller Tigers for half the season. He was acquired by the Jays in July as a rent-a-player and was there to help get the Jays back to the World Series, which they ultimately fell short of accomplishing. Price is expected to sign one of the biggest free agent deals in MLB pitching history this off season, and a Cy Young trophy would certainly increase his value.

If it weren’t for Keuchel’s break out year, Price would be the absolute favorite to win the AL Cy Young award. He will certainly be at the top of the list for many years to come.

3. Sonny Gray (14-7), Oakland Athletics

Courtesy of USA Today Images

If you take one look at Gray’s W/L column, you would immediately question why he is a finalist at all. A pitcher’s win/loss record is not necessarily indicative of his play, but rather it is a direct reflection of his team’s play. Any pitcher could throw a 1 run 9 inning gem, but still get the loss if his team doesn’t score any runs.

Gray was the ace of the worst team in the AL (68 wins), but still dominated opposing hitters. While his win proportion wasn’t as high as Steve Carlton’s in 1972, where he won 27 games and the Philadelphia Phillies won 59 games, Gray was still the only spotlight for the 2015 A’s.

Unfortunately for Gray, there were two AL pitchers that were flat-out better than him in 2015. The former first-round draft pick, and also a Vanderbilt Commodore, was third in the AL in ERA at 2.73, behind Price and Keuchel. If it wasn’t for a disastrous September where his ERA skyrocketed to 6.84, Gray might have more of a chance to win the AL Cy Young award.

National League

1. Jake Arrieta (22-6), Chicago Cubs 

If you were to pick one pre-season Cy Young finalist from the Chicago Cubs, you would have likely picked Jon Lester. Well, with Lester’s very average 2015 season, Arrieta emerged as a legitimate star and the ace of the North Siders. He is the only Cy Young finalist in both the AL and NL to throw a no-hitter, which occurred on national TV (ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball) against the NL West champs Los Angeles Dodgers.

Arrietta proved his toughness and reliability by leading the NL in complete games (four) and wins (22), and he was the only NL 20-game winner. He also had an amazing WHIP of 0.86, which was good for second place in the NL behind another NL Cy Young finalist.

The former Baltimore Oriole pitcher is represented by super-agent Scott Boras- so you know a contract extension will be in the talks this off season. Arrietta still has two years left on his contract, but if he is crowned NL Cy Young winner, he could see a serious payday in the near future.

While Arrietta has some serious competition, he is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young award. He looks to be the first Cub to do so since Greg Maddux in 1992.

2. Zack Greinke (19-3), Los Angeles Dodgers

Zach Greinke

The 2009 Cy Young winner had another remarkable season, as many predicted he would. He had the lowest ERA in the NL (1.66), the best WHIP (0.84) and the highest winning percentage at .864. He also was awarded his second consecutive Gold Glove becoming the first LA player to do so since Steve Garvey.

Greinke’s performance came with a serious price tag of $27 million, and he is one of the hottest free agents on the market, which he did so voluntarily. By becoming a free agent, he forfeited a guaranteed $71 million over the next three years. Dodgers GM spoke to reporters at the winter meetings stating that the team showed serious interest in keeping him apart of the long-term plan.

We definitely expressed our interest in having him return,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said, via the LA Times. “With the season he had, I think there was an intent on their part to play out the season and get to this part and make a decision on the player option.”

Jut like Arrieta, Greinke will attempt to use his Cy Young award, should he win, to secure some serious guaranteed money this off season.

3. Clayton Kershaw (16-7), Los Angeles Dodgers

Joining his teammate as a 2015 finalist, Kershaw is looking to win his fourth Cy Young award, and third straight. While he certainly had Cy Young numbers this season, Arrieta and Greinke’s numbers might be too much for Kershaw.

He led the NL in strikeouts by a landslide with 301 and was also tied for first place in complete games (four) with Arrieta.  Just like his teammate, Kershaw’s performance came at a hefty price of $31 million, contributing to the Dodgers’ $300 million luxury-tax payroll in 2015. Kershaw’s seven losses may stick out to the voters given the Dodgers were a couple games short at advancing to the NLCS, where they lost to World Series runner up New York Mets.