The NL Cy Young Award winner is less than a month away. While the finalists have yet to be revealed, there are different heavy favorites for the Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Cy Young Awards. Miami Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara should win the Cy Young Award unanimously. Alcantara proved what it takes to be the ace of the rotation. Also, his performances showed other traits, from consistency and longevity to dominance, clutchness, and the willingness to play as hard as possible to help the team win. Alcantara could do all of that, and while he may not have been a strikeout pitcher or record as many official wins as the other contenders, Alcantara has an outstanding case for the NL pitching crown.
NL Cy Young Award Race
From a stats point of view, one may think the NL Cy Young Award race is closer than it is. However, it’s not, as Alcantara ranked ninth in wins (14), third in ERA (2.28), and fourth in strikeouts (207) in the National League. There is a reason to consider these stats with a significant amount of importance. He ranks similarly with the other top contenders, such as Max Scherzer and Corbin Burnes, although he also has many other leading statistics that will make those look like a bonus to the type of season he had.
Alcantara had 14 starts this season with eight or more complete innings pitched. He led the majors with 228 2/3 innings pitched, with the next highest total being 205. It shows that not many pitchers can consistently pitch so many innings with the state of the game today, which makes it all the more impressive. Alcantara’s fiery attitude and drive help him rise above the metrics and perform.
Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez was second in complete games in 2022 with three. What’s more impressive is that Alcantara did not allow a single run in the ninth inning in all six games he threw a complete game. Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, and Justin Verlander are the only three pitchers in the last 10 years to pitch at least six complete games. Interestingly enough, both Kershaw and Verlander won the MVP and Cy Young, doing so in 2014 and 2011, respectively.
Even with those innings, he still ranked in the 96th percentile of pitch velocity. He was also in the 94th percentile of the chase rate with some of the nastiest offspeed pitches in MLB. Hitters had an average of .145 against Alcantara’s changeup in 2022, which is way down from .229 in 2021.
My NL Cy Young https://t.co/7scuNAHV26
— Collin Carofano (@collin8915) June 15, 2022
A Great Impact
Alcantara didn’t have a single month of the season where he pitched above a 3.00 ERA. His numbers dipped a little later in the year, but he still finished with the fifth-best ERA in the majors. Before the All-Star Break, though, he had a 1.76 ERA with a 0.904 WHIP.
He led all major league pitchers in WAR this year with 8.1. Chicago White Sox starter Dylan Cease was second with 6.4, 1 1/2 fewer games than Alcantara. He was also first in the majors in win probability added and base-out runs/wins saved*.
*Base-out runs are a metric of how many runs Alcantara may have prevented when runners are on base. In addition, based on his performance, a base-out win is a measure of how many wins above average Sandy Alcantara was worth. Therefore, the combination of those stats with WAR comfortable makes him the most valuable pitcher in baseball.
There is no timetable for when the Marlins will be able to compete, especially with the state of how good the NL East is. So, the future for Alcantara and the Marlins is in question. Do they make him a trade piece, or do they keep him to pitch like a Cy Young with no reward for the franchise?
The 27-year-old has done nothing but improve since he joined Miami. In 2017 his 4.32 ERA was something he wanted to work on. Now, he’s being discussed as winning the NL Cy Young award and doing so in a unanimous fashion.
Even though the Marlins got away with signing him to an extension through 2027 for an AAV of only $11 million per year, a contending team that needs pitching help, like maybe the Boston Red Sox, or any team, should look to target Alcantara. It would take one heck of a haul to get him, but it would be so worth it.
Editor’s Note: Updated Oct 20 at 8:54 pm Eastern. The original version erroneously had Kershaw winning Cy Young and MVP in 2011. It has been corrected. Last Word on Baseball regrets the error.
Sandy Alcantara, Max Scherzer, Corbin Burnes, Framber Valdez, Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Dylan Cease
Sports communications graduate from the University of Rhode Island