All the buzz around the American League Cy Young award has focused on Jered Weaver and Justin Verlander. Both are outstanding pitchers having incredible seasons. Verlander has a no-hitter and nearly threw a second. Weaver has a 1.78 ERA and has only given up 4 runs twice (without ever allowing more than 4).
No one, best I can tell, has raised an argument for James Shields. Why is he being left out of the discussion?
With last night’s effort, Shields has 8 CGs, 4 of which are shutouts. That is a better total than 25 TEAMS. That feat alone is worthy of Cy Young buzz, especially when it is accomplished under the tutelage of bullpen-matchup-master Joe Maddon.
Looking at the leaderboard, however, Shields CGs probably can’t overcome the statistical advantage Verlander and Weaver have in almost every relevant category. But those numbers weren’t achieved in a vacuum. Weaver pitches in the unbalanced AL West where he had the chance to make three starts against Oakland and four against Seattle (and two against the Dodgers). Verlander pitches in the AL Central where he made four starts against Chicago and Kansas City. Shields, however, pitches in the Beast where he made three starts against New York and two against Boston.
Looking deeper, the average run production of the 25 lineups faced by Jeff Weaver is 4.19 runs per game while Verlander and Shields are in a virtual tie facing lineups that average 4.345 and 4.354 runs per game respectively. Predictably, then, Weaver leads the other contenders in most statistical categories.
In the end, Shields will not, and perhaps should not, overcome either Weaver or Verlander for the Cy Young award. After all, the writers had their coup last year giving the award to a player on an underperforming team. It is doubtful such an event will happen twice in a row.
But Complete Game James deserves to be in the conversation. Right?