2023’s MLB Pitching Elite: A Dive into the Cy Young Race

Prestigious MLB Cy Young trophy.

As the excitement of the 2023 MLB season reaches its climax, the speculation surrounding potential Cy Young Award winners is rife. With pitchers putting forth sterling performances, fans eagerly anticipate the grand announcement.

The Cy Young Contenders of 2023: A Breakdown

To gauge the atmosphere, MLB.com recently rolled out a poll where select voters were asked to rank their top five pitchers from both leagues based on their performance up to this point and their expectations for the rest of the season.

The pitchers were rated on a scale of 5-4-3-2-1, with five points for the top spot dwindling down to a single point for the fifth. A substantial group of 49 voters participated in this activity, and the results provide us with a clear picture of the frontrunners for the Cy Young Award in 2023.

American League Standouts

RankPitcherTeamFirst-place votesKey Statistics
1Gerrit ColeYankees382.76 ERA
2Kevin GausmanBlue Jays63.04 ERA
3Shohei OhtaniAngels2.185 OBA
4Nathan EovaldiRangers22.69 ERA
5Framber ValdezAstros3.30 ERA

Gerrit Cole, Yankees

Leading the American League is none other than Gerrit Cole from the Yankees. With 38 top nods, he’s shaping 2023 to be his most illustrious season with the Yankees. Being the leader in innings pitched, he’s looking at a potential career high of 214 innings this season. With a remarkable ERA of 2.76, Cole has demonstrated his prowess, though his strikeout rate has slightly diminished. “Despite five finishes in the top five, Cole has never won the Cy Young; if he keeps up his current performance, that will likely change.”

Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays

Following Cole is Kevin Gausman of the Blue Jays. Dominating the AL with 183 strikeouts in just 139 innings, he’s set a remarkable 32.5% strikeout rate this season. His performance, especially with an ERA of 3.04, makes it plausible for him to finish strong in the Cy Young race.

Shohei Ohtani, Angels

Ohtani, representing the Angels, has shined bright this season. He’s not only excelled as a batter but has also been an integral part of the Angels’ pitching lineup. His recent one-hit shutout of the Tigers is testament to his incredible talent. “Rumor has it he can hit a little bit, too.”

Nathan Eovaldi, Rangers & Framber Valdez, Astros

Both Eovaldi and Valdez have faced challenges this season but have nonetheless showcased outstanding performances. Eovaldi’s return is keenly awaited post his injury, while Valdez’s no-hit game remains a highlight of the season.

Noteworthy Mentions: Sonny Gray, Félix Bautista, Zach Eflin, Luis Castillo, and others have also received nods, displaying the depth of talent this season.

Close-up of Zac Gallen's focused game-face.

National League’s Best

RankPitcherTeamFirst-place votesKey Statistics
1Zac GallenD-backs143.24 ERA
2Blake SnellPadres212.63 ERA
3Justin SteeleCubs52.79 ERA
4Spencer StriderBraves93.75 ERA
5Logan WebbGiants3.26 ERA

Zac Gallen, D-backs

Topping the National League list is Zac Gallen. With an impressive 3.24 ERA and being a crucial player for the D-backs, he’s staking a strong claim for the Cy Young Award.

Blake Snell, Padres

Snell, with the highest first-place votes in the National League, presents a curious case. Leading with a 2.63 ERA, his performance has been slightly marred by the number of walks he’s issued this season.

Justin Steele, Cubs

Steele’s rise in the league is nothing short of meteoric. In his third MLB season, he has demonstrated why he’s among the best, especially with a staggering ERA of 2.79.

Spencer Strider, Braves & Logan Webb, Giants

Strider is setting the bar high with his strikeout numbers. Though he’s been slightly inconsistent recently, he remains a contender. Webb, on the other hand, leads in innings pitched, making him a notable contender.

Other Notable Players: The likes of Zack Wheeler, Clayton Kershaw, and others continue to make the race interesting with their stellar displays.

The Legacy of the Cy Young Award

The Cy Young Award, named in honor of the legendary Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, stands as a testament to excellence in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) pitching domain. Instituted in 1956, this award has been a symbol of recognition for the pitchers who have showcased an outstanding performance throughout the season.

Origin and History

When the award was initially introduced, only one pitcher from either the National or the American League would emerge as the recipient. However, recognizing the growing talent in both leagues, from 1967 onwards, a Cy Young Award was designated for a standout pitcher from each league.

Cy Young, the award’s namesake, is celebrated for his remarkable career spanning over two decades. With an astounding 511 wins, Young’s record remains untouched, symbolizing the epitome of pitching success in MLB history.

Criteria for Winning

While there is no fixed formula to decide the winner, several factors play a crucial role:

  • Earned Run Average (ERA): Represents the number of earned runs a pitcher allows per nine innings.
  • Wins: The number of games won while the pitcher was in the game.
  • Strikeouts: The number of opposing batters that the pitcher has outed.
  • Innings Pitched: Total number of innings the pitcher has played.
  • WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched): A measure of a pitcher’s ability to prevent batters from reaching base.

Apart from these, intangibles like the pitcher’s value to the team, consistency, and game-changing performances, especially in crucial matches, are also considered.

Notable Winners

Over the years, the Cy Young Award has seen multiple winners, with some bagging the honor more than once. Roger Clemens leads the pack with seven awards, while Randy Johnson has secured the title five times. Other prominent figures like Greg Maddux and Steve Carlton have each been honored four times.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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