Max Scherzer Should be the NL Cy Young Favorite


Have we forgotten about Max Scherzer? The consensus pick for the NL Cy Young last year was Jacob deGrom, with him getting all but one first place vote. That’s a narrative often shared by most and no one seems to question the legitimacy of the award. To me I think it’s actually quite asinine to believe that deGrom was undoubtedly the best NL pitcher. The favorite in 2020 shouldn’t be deGrom, it’s pretty clear who it should be: Max Scherzer.

Max Scherzer Reigned Supreme in 2019

In the 2019 season Jacob deGrom had a 2.43 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, and a 3.29 SIERA. Max Scherzer? The 3x Cy Young winner had a 2.92 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 2.88 xFIP, and 2.93 SIERA. What are these weird stats you ask?

Well FIP is Fielding Independent Pitching which eliminates hits other than homers from the equation. xFIP uses a similar formula but measures the results that should’ve occurred in those situations rather than the ones that did occur. The one that I think is the objective BEST one is SIERA (Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average) which DOES factor hits and uses quality of contact and all of that to determine true “skill”. Last year Scherzer led deGrom in 3 out of the 4 main run prevention metrics, so how is deGrom suddenly so much better? Last time I checked it’s been pretty close.

Who’s Better?

The most accurate way to look at metrics arguably is with using numbers since 2017, as while it’s three years ago, in this case both were in the league then and were both relatively healthy since 2017.

Max Scherzer:
2.64 ERA
2.68 FIP
3.08 xFIP
2.93 SIERA

Jacob deGrom:
2.53 ERA
2.70 FIP
2.97 xFIP
3.17 SIERA

deGrom leads in ERA and xFIP, but Scherzer leads in FIP and the best metric of the four stats, SIERA. Even if you look at since 2018, Max Scherzer leads deGrom in SIERA (2.80 to 3.03), which is even more evidence to support that Scherzer is arguably better.

Pitching the Final Case For Max Scherzer

While yes deGrom is obviously going to be in this race, there’s no way you can count Scherzer out so fast. The stats and metrics point to Max Scherzer being just as good if not better. He isn’t slowing down either, as he had a 0.5 tick up in average fastball MPH in 2019. The Cy Young will probably stay in the NL East for the 5th year in a row, but this time it’ll be for the Nationals.

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