Among the awards to be handed out after the season, the one likely to generate the most debate will be the Cy Young races – with candidates in each league making strong cases for top honor.
Here’s a list of who leads the pack with less than a week to go.
5. Marco Estrada, Blue Jays
His seven previous big league seasons gave little indication he’d be able to lead Toronto in ERA and Wins Above Replacement (3.3). But this 32-year-old, who came into 2015 with a lifetime record of 23-26, is finding nirvana during his first year with the Jays. Estrada has strung together career-bests in nearly every notable pitching category along with quality starts in seven of his past 10 outings.
4. Wade Davis, Royals
Let’s try another outside-the-box candidate. Because he’s neither a starter nor a closer (until being appointed so just last week), Davis falls through the cracks when it comes to discussing the game’s best pitchers. Here are some numbers that strengthen an argument in his favor: 74 strikeouts in 64.2 innings, a 0.82 WHIP, and only seven earned runs.
3. Sonny Gray, A’s
The criteria for a Cy Young differs from that of an MVP, where importance to your team’s ultimate success is nearly as crucial as individual performance itself. Oakland has dropped off severely this season following several winter transactions. Gray, however, has suffered no such tailspin. His 14 wins, along with a 2.73 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, mark a tremendous accomplishment on a club that has just 65.
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