Rick Porcello has been named one of three finalists for the American League Cy Young Award along with Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander.
Porcello was always going to be one of the last names in on the 2016 Cy Young Award. An incredible bounce-back campaign saw him throw 223 innings of 3.15 ERA baseball with one of the lowest walk rates among all qualified starters, acting as the one season-long anchor in a Red Sox rotation that always seemed to be facing one crisis or another. fWAR has him essentially tied with Justin Verlander and Chris Sale, just a tad ahead of Corey Kluber.
The absence of Sale suggests that ERA played a pretty significant role in the selection (shocker). While his peripherals have him right up there with the rest, he comes in with the worst mark in that category at 3.34, nearly 20 points below Porcello. Of the three finalists, Verlander is the standout there at 3.04.
For Porcello, it will be a question of just how far wins can carry him against the flashier strikeout pitchers. Verlander and Kluber’s 10.04 and 9.50 K/9 stand well above Porcello’s 7.63, but in that most basic of statistics, Porcello has the big advantage with 22 Ws to Verlander’s 16 and Kluber’s 18.
If this was an MVP-style award we were talking about, that might give Porcello the edge. But voters tend to favor performance stats over team results a bit more in Cy Young voting than MVP voting, and while Porcello has plenty to show in that department as well, limiting walks just isn’t as eye-catching as huge K totals or a 3.04 ERA. Porcello very much stands a chance, but it’s going to take a group of voters that’s a little more appreciative of control or a lot less enlightened about the win than we’ve seen in recent years.