Keith Law of The Athletic released his hypothetical awards for the 2020 Major League Baseball awards on Sunday morning. That includes the National League Cy Young Award, which is the only one that a Cincinnati Reds player is likely to get real consideration for at the very top. That player, of course, is Trevor Bauer. He led the National League in ERA, ERA+, complete games, WHIP, hits allowed per 9-innings pitched, and batting average against. He finished second in strikeouts, strikeout rate, and K%-BB%.
Apparently, though, that wasn’t good enough to finish in the top four spots on Law’s ballot (he doesn’t actually have a vote for the award, this is just how he would have voted if he did have one).
Here’s the breakdown of the top 5, according to Law:
Trevor Bauer has a big lead on everyone in both ERA and ERA+ (ERA that’s adjusted for the ballpark factors of all the parks pitched in by that pitcher during the season – the higher this number is, the better it is). His WHIP, average against, and on-base percentage against were also significantly better than the group.
Not to take anything away from the outstanding seasons put together by Max Fried and Corbin Burnes….. but neither threw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title this season, throwing 56.0 and 59.2 innings this year. They were outstanding, truly, but they also were on the mound significantly less than the other three guys that got votes here.
So how does Trevor Bauer, who threw a lot more innings than those guys and prevented runs, hits, and baserunners finish below those two guys specifically? Well, it would appear that Law is using FIP in his voting preference, given that he notes that Darvish finished second to Burnes in FIP within his brief write up. If you go by FIP, Trevor Bauer ranked 6th in the NL (behind Burnes, Darvish, deGrom, and then non-vote getters Dinelson Lamet and Luis Castillo). But, Bauer still finished ahead of Max Fried, who finished 3rd on the list while throwing 17.0 fewer innings. So it’s a bit tough to actually make much sense of what’s happening here.
It’s not just the Trevor Bauer coming in at 5th on the Cy Young side of things that is a bit questionable among his votes, either. In the NL Rookie of the Year ballot there was no mention of Brewers reliever Devin Williams who allowed one earned run over 27.0 innings (0.33 ERA), while also giving up just eight hits on the season, walking nine batters, and striking out 53 of the 100 hitters that he faced. Tough competition in this one, but Devin Williams just put up an all-time caliber run from a reliever and to not get a top 3 vote feels off.
Over in the National League MVP section there’s no Marcell Ozuna in the top 10. He led the league in home runs and RBI. He finished 3rd in the league in average, hitting .338/.431/.636. His wRC+ was third, trailing just Juan Soto (who only played in 47 games), and teammate Freddie Freeman.