Sconnie Sports Talk

Why Jake Arrieta Should Win the Cy Young


It’s been a great season for baseball. Races for multiple divisions came down to the last day, there was some serious rookie talent this year, and the pitching game league-wide has not looked this good in quite a while. If anything, the 2015 season has signified a great turnaround from the dark Steroid Era of the past.

Part of the reason that this season was so great was the revival of truly masterful pitching, perhaps exemplified no better than in a three-headed race for the NL Cy Young. The Dodgers currently own the best 1-2 punch of pitchers in recent memory in Zack Grienke (19-3, 1.66 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA). But neither should win the NL Cy Young crown this year.

This year’s crown should undeniably go to rags-to-riches Cubs star Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA), who has truly earned the title of Cy Young winner.

The Main Statistics: Wins, ERA, and Strikeouts

Even a baseball amateur could look at Arrieta’s most basic stat line and come away with the impression that it’s impressive. He led the majors in wins with 22, is second in ERA (1.77 to Grienke’s 1.66), and is sixth in strikeouts with 236 (Kershaw leads with 301). These finishes of 1st, 2nd, and 6th mean that Arrieta is the first pitcher to finish 6th or above in the MLB in all three categories since R.A. Dickey did it in 2012 (he won the NL Cy Young in a landslide). To lead nearly everyone in all three of these statistics means a pitcher must be truly dominant, and Arrieta has clearly proven that he is just that.

A Truly Historical Second Half

Arrieta’s line is even more impressive when you look at how he finished his season. Obviously, the Cy Young award factors in total season performance. But in the second half, Arrieta went 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA and 113 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.72. In his 15 appearances, he gave up a total of 9 earned runs. That’s unprecedented; 0.75 is the lowest second-half ERA ever in the major leagues. Records like that aren’t broken anymore. One Grantland article compared Arrieta’s late summer days to the likes of Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser and Bob Gibson – names that evoke truly the best feats of pitching.


One area where Arrieta truly excels over Kershaw and Greinke is in his uber-consistent game-to-game performance. In 33 starts this year (a number that also leads the majors), Arrieta has gone less than six innings only three times. He has not given up more than four earned runs in a single start this year, and hasn’t even given up four earned since June 16th. Subsequently, his ERA never went higher than 3.40. Additionally, before his last two starts when the team was clearly trying to save his energy for the postseason, Arrieta never threw less than 90 pitches in an outing. He gave up more than one home run in just one appearance this season. His dominance never dipped this season, and his ability to stay hot all season contributes mightily to his résumé.

“Great Games”

Beyond simple consistency, Arrieta has thrown a number of remarkable games this season where he’s proven deserving of the Cy Young. Among the three likely candidates for Cy Young, Arrieta is the only to have a no-hitter this season – which, ironically, was against the Dodgers. He tied the league lead in shutouts (3) and complete games (4), and had 10 games where he went for at least 8 innings without giving up more than one earned run.


Here’s a quick run down of where Arrieta stands in terms of his sabermetrics this season:

Arrieta’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) stands at 8.9, 2nd amongst pitchers and 4th in the MLB including hitters. The last NL Cy Young winner to have a WAR that high was in 2002, when Randy Johnson dominated the league in his prime. His WAR that year was 10.9.

There is no doubting that the MLB has been blessed with some amazing pitching this year. Finally, after years of steroid allegations and hitting domination, it seems as though pitching has made a comeback. Jake Arrieta, who posted league-worst numbers in his first few years with the Orioles, will now likely enter into the discussion for best pitcher in the majors. His dedication to the game has taken him there – according to FiveThirtyEight, all of this success is thanks to a serious change in pitching release that has been a serious contributor to his success.

The numbers speak for themselves. Jake Arrieta is a certified ace, and his name should be at the top of voters’ ballots this offseason.


Grantland; ESPN; FiveThirtyEight;