The NL Cy Young race: An eight-way contest

Sep 1, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley (22) throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in game one of a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley (22) throws a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning in game one of a doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Walker Buehler. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Walker Buehler. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Overall rating

Listed alphabetically, here’s an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the  eight candidates in the upcoming NL Cy Young voting:

Buehler: Of all the candidates, Buehler is the one with no statistical weakness. Although he does not lead any category, he alone among the eight ranks among the top three in all five. He is best-positioned to be a consensus pick.

Burnes: Burnes leads in ERA+, and also ranks high in ERA. When he has pitched, Burnes has been excellent. But his workload works against him. He ranks last in innings pitched and next to last in both wins and WAR.

Gausman: Like Buehler, Gausman is a consensus candidate, but with a bit less glossy resume. He ranks fourth to sixth in four of the five categories, the exception being wins, where he is second. If the Giants  win their division, Gausman’s role may elevate his candidacy.

Miley: Miley ranks second in WAR, but aside from that he hasn’t stood out compared with his fellow competitors. He is fifth or sixth in the four other categories.

Scherzer: He would be a likely winner but for his workload. Scherzer ranks first, second or third in four of the five categories, but only seventh in innings pitched. Is that enough?

Wainwright: He will get votes, but Wainwright’s relatively ordinary ERA, WAR and ERA+ make it unlikely that he will finish among the voting’s top three.

Wheeler: He has strong credentials, especially in two very important categories, innings pitched and WAR. He leads the Majors in both. His tripwires are ERA and ERA+, so the question is whether voters will look beyond those two.

Woodruff: As good as Woodruff has been, he does not rank higher than fourth among the candidates in any of the five categories. Like  Burnes, his candidacy also suffers from his team’s reticence to allow him to flourish on his own.

Wheeler a potential Cy Young candidate. dark. Next

Here, then, is the overall rating with three weeks remaining. The score below is the average ordinal rank of each player relative to the other eight.

Ordinal rank

1              Buehler                2.6

2              Scherzer              3.0

3              Wheeler               4.2

4              Gausman             4.6

5              Miley                     4.8

6              Woodruff             5.0

7              Burnes                  5.2

8              Wainwright         5.4