AL Cy Young: Max Scherzer has cemented his case

Leon Halip

A few stumbles in September allowed small cracks in the facade, but Wednesday's 1-0 victory has all but ensured Scherzer will join Justin Verlander as a Tigers Cy Young Award winner

It's not just about the wins. It's also about the way they were earned. That's just part of why Max Scherzer will be named the American League Cy Young winner in November.

When Scherzer started the year by racking up an unblemished record nearly matching Roger Clemens' in 1986, his case was pretty strong. When he reached 19-1, his case was assumed. When he pitched seven innings of shutout ball in a 1-0 game to help the Tigers' clinch the AL Central title, his case was complete.

That might lead one to think it's all about the wins and BBWAA members are easily distracted by shiny objects. That may or may not be true. But what we can say is that deserving players without the win total can overcome players aided by the fortune of playing on good teams. In the past few years, we've kind of moved into the "post-win" era. Felix Hernandez was 13-12 in 2010 when he won -- CC Sabathia went 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA that season. Zack Greinke a year before was 16-8 and handily beat out players with more wins.

So, it's not just about the win, though they help. Voters have shown they can see the bigger picture. You'll have a hard time finding an example of voters handing the AL Cy Young to the wrong guy -- although last season still stinks of a mistake, Price was at least deserving.

And it's not just about run support either. Sure, it helps a pitcher with that win total -- helps him avoid losses, too. But you can't argue run support is masking a shaky argument for Cy Young here.

Scherzer's stats:

21-3 record.

2.90 ERA (2.74 FIP)

0.970 WHIP

240 strikeouts

214 innings (6.7 IP per start)

4.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio

79 percent of starts were quality starts

Scherzer's either at the top or in the top handful of every one of them. In a few cases, his teammate, Anibal Sanchez, is actually ahead. Chris Sale and Yu Darvish do well in a category or two themselves.

In 20 starts, Scherzer has allowed two runs or fewer. Sale's total there is 14. Darvish's total is 16. Colon and Sanchez, 19.

Scherzer and Sanchez, by the way, typically had an infield of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta around them. So it's not like they're getting a lot of help there -- those are players whose gloves are often the subject of snarky jokes.

Scherzer's claim is a good one. He was consistent all year and has plenty of shiny objects worthy of distraction beyond the record. You can make an argument for Sale or Darvish if you like, but there's a lot of ground to make up to surpass Scherzer.

If the award wasn't his before his start Wednesday, it's definitely his now.

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