It’s official: Yu Darvish is a National League Cy Young finalist.Of course, our eyes told us as much during the season, before the BBWAA announced its awards finalists on Monday. But now we know for sure that Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA) is up for the award along with the Reds’ Trevor Bauer (5-4, 1.73) and Mets’ Jacob deGrom (4-2, 2.38). Stiff competition.So, how did Darvish’s 2020 season stack up against Bauer’s and deGrom’s performances? The BBWAA is set to announce the Cy Young Award winners Nov. 11 on MLB Network.Here are some of the factors the writers faced when casting their votes:
MORE: Darvish one of three finalists for NL Cy Young Award
Bauer’s numbers made a strong case for him this season. His 0.795 WHIP and 5.1 hits per nine innings were the best in baseball. He also led the National League in ERA (1.73).
Darvish had the best record of the three by a large margin. He tied AL Cy Young finalist Shane Bieber for the most wins in MLB, with eight.
As far as strikeouts go, deGrom led the NL (104), with Bauer right on his heels (100).
Yu Darvish faced playoff teams 10 times in the regular season, compared to DeGrom’s eight and Bauer’s six. He also squared up against the White Sox, one of the league’s most potent offenses, twice. He allowed just one run in those combined 14 innings.
In terms of playoff-bound opponents, deGrom got a bit of a break playing the Marlins four times in a row. Their pitching was the real ticket to the postseason. But deGrom also faced the Braves — who led the league in offensive runs above average, according to FanGraphs — and the Rays, who made it to the World Series, a combined three times.
This season’s regional schedule made it especially difficult to weigh one player’s statistics against another’s. Both Darvish and Bauer, for example, played against Central teams all year. Statistically, six of the league’s nine worst offensive teams this year were in the NL and AL Central.
Were the Central teams plagued by poor offense, or was strong pitching to blame for their hitting woes? The playoffs seemed to suggest that both were true, but the baseball writers had to cast their ballots before the postseason.
The East divisions, which deGrom competed in, sent two teams to the Championship Series and one to the World Series.
This season’s schedule structure, of course, meant that deGrom didn’t face the Cubs or Reds. But Darvish and Bauer had two Cy Young showdowns. The results were a wash.
Darvish won the first battle, on Aug. 29. The Cubs ace threw six shutout innings, while Bauer gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The second bout went to Bauer on Sept. 9. He shut out the Cubs for 7 2/3 innings, while Darvish allowed three runs in six innings.
There were only two NL pitchers of the month this year, in a 60-game season. In August it was Darvish (5-0, 1.09 ERA, 40 strikeouts). In September it was Bauer (2-2, 1.29 ERA, 46 strikeouts).
This season, those awards meant more than usual. Essentially, they say Darvish was the best NL pitcher for the first half of the year and Bauer for the second half. Is a hot start or finish more valuable? Are they weighted equally? That was for each voter to decide.