Did Jake Arrieta deserve his 2015 NL Cy Young?

Did Jake Arrieta deserve his 2015 NL Cy Young?

Quinn Riley July 05, 2020  Comments

Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young award mainly because of his incredible ERA, and his 22-6 record. The problem is, ERA does NOT tell nearly the whole story and W-L is a completely useless stat. The voters did not look at analytical stats enough to determine the winner. Instead, they look at casual stats which are overrated and don't tell much.

In this article, I will rank the five pitchers that had a shot at winning the 2015 NL Cy Young, and basically redo the voting. These five pitchers are Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Gerrit Cole. We will look at a bunch of stats to determine who deserved the top spot as the Cy Young winner and determine what the final vote should have looked like for the Top 5.

In 2015 Arrieta posted a 9.28 K/9, which Scherzer and Kershaw had a better K/9 with Kershaw having the best. He posted a 1.89 BB/9, in which each Cole, Kershaw, Greinke, and Scherzer had a better BB/9 with Kershaw having the best. Arrieta did post a .39 HR/9, which nobody had better. For K-BB%, Kershaw has the way better K-BB% than Arrieta, with Arrieta posting a 21.6%, and Kershaw posted a 29.1%. Scherzer also had his better than Arrieta with Scherzer's being 26.9%. For K%, Kershaw dominated in that category at 33.8%, and Arrieta only had a 27.1% with Scherzer as well being better than Arrieta at 30.7%. The stat that basically combines all of these (Strikeouts, Home runs, and walks) together on an ERA scale, which is FIP, Arrieta posted a 2.35 of. The only pitcher who had a better FIP then Arrieta was Kershaw. Then we move to xFIP. Arrieta posted a 2.61 xFIP, and Kershaw again is the only one to have a better xFIP then Arrieta. Next we go to FIP-, which again Kershaw takes the throne for this stat as Arrieta posted a 61, and Kershaw posted a 53.

We will now move out of the category of FIP and move into the category of ERA. You may be surprised for who has the best ERA measures. For regular ERA obviously Arrieta had the best ERA because that's the reason why he won the Cy Young, but with Skill Interactive ERA (SIERA) , Arrieta is not the best, as Scherzer and Kershaw have better SIERA's with Kershaw again having the best. It should be pretty obvious who I think should've won the Cy Young at this point. We will go to ERA- now, which actually Greinke had the best at 44, and Arrieta had a 45. For WHIP, which is a more commonly used stat, Arrieta did have the best at .86 although Kershaw was right behind Arrieta at .88, and Scherzer was right behind as well at .92. Now, here is debatably the most important stat, which is WAR. For this, we will use fWAR (Fangraphs WAR). Kershaw had the highest at 8.6, Arrieta was well behind him in second at 7.0. Scherzer had 6.5, Greinke had 5.3, and Cole had 5.1.

=When the voters saw Arrieta's statline, they looked at that glamorous W-L and ERA, and very simple and common stats. They did not look at important stats that actually tell the whole story with them all added up together. Now, without further ado, after looking very deeply into each individuals statlines, here is my final vote for the 2015 NL Cy Young, or in other words, here is what the final voting of the Cy Young should have looked like for the Top 5.

1. Clayton Kershaw

How many times did I say "Kershaw had the best" in a certain stat category? Too many to count. He no doubt should have won the Cy Young after looking into his advanced stats and what numbers he put up. This was an easy decision to put Kershaw here.

2. Jake Arrieta

Now I know I put Greinke here in my SportsCastr stream, which I now highly regret doing after looking deeper into everyone's stats. Arrieta came second in most categories which therefore he deserves to be second. I couldn't decide wether it was Arrieta or Sherzer in second, so it came down t0 WAR. So to answer the question does he deserve the Cy Young? That is a definite no.

3. Max Scherzer

Sherzer had an interesting stat line, but after all he deserves to be 3rd mainly because of his fWAR. He had similar advanced stats to Arrieta, but you can't just fully ignore common stats such as ERA, fWAR, and WHIP. Therefore, I have to put him here.

4. Zack Greinke

Greinke just didn't put up enough stats all around to be ranked anywhere but 4th. The one stat he lead the NL in, was ERA-, and you need more than that to be ranked higher than 4th. In my SportsCastr stream I had him in 2nd but I realized I should take him out and put him in 4th after looking more at his advanced stats.

5. Gerrit Cole

See how I ranked everybody by fWAR? Keep in mind I forgot to look at fWAR before finalizing my rankings and yet they still ended up this way. Nothing for Cole really stood out, but he has better numbers than everyone else that was not in the Top 5.

Quinn Riley streams about Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA and NFL on his SportsCastr channel

You've successfully subscribed to TecmoHole
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to TecmoHole
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.