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.

26 Responses

  1. Sean D

    In my opinion, FIP doesn’t really matter for looking at the past. FIP is great for predicting who will be better but for the past other stats matter more cause they tell you exactly what happened.

    As for Bauer finishing low, the only argument I see is strength of schedule, valid or not it’s fair that he probably played easier teams. If that’s you’re argument cool but clearly it isn’t keith law’s cause he had darvish (who played the same teams) as the winner. Not sure what to think about this

    • RMR

      There’s no perfect measure. There’s always the question of where you draw the line between the pitcher’s individual performance and the performance of the other 9+ guys (fielders, batter, runners). How do we apportion the credit?

      ERA and FIP are both measures of things that actually happened. The difference is that ERA includes the performance of everybody on the field while FIP is limited to those events between the pitcher, catcher, and batter.

      So ERA captures more of “what happened”, but that includes a good bit of stuff that wasn’t really the pitcher’s performance. That FIP happens to be a better predictor of future performance is really a separate issue entirely. The question is whether you get a better assessment of pitcher performance by including both his impact on hits AND the defense’s impact or by ignoring both. There are reasonable arguments both ways — as well as one for a middle ground approach.

  2. Klugo

    It’s really a shame that writer awards hold some much value in MLB because they are are a joke. I’m sure his mouth and his strut rubbed some the wrong way.

    • Tamara Banks

      If you watch his blogs 24 has him going off on Joey Votto about a baserunning mistake.I just think the guy is class less and needs to move on.

      • Robert Maurice wilson

        This is baseball!!!
        Trevor deserves to be the cy young winner his attitude sucks but his pitching is incredible to say the least.

      • Red Thunder

        Also in 24, I saw him willing to sign a baseball for Coach Deshields to give to a child. When ask, he stated anything you want/need from him. I could be wrong but I think a lot of fans were upset that Joey Votto didn’t score on that play. I know I had about the same reaction as Trevor. Guess I’m classless but I’m a Reds fan, a Joey fan, and a Trevor fan. He also points out in his videos when a player does good. Maybe you should watch it again.

  3. Tomn

    In each category that Bauer isn’t 1st, he’s either 2nd or 3rd out of these 5 pitchers. If he doesn’t win the CY Young, it’s criminal.

    • Peter Buell

      Something to be considered is the offense of the opponents. Baur did not face a team with a team ops above 19th all season which is a significant advantage

      • RojoBenjy

        But when challenged by the Braves he shut them down.

  4. Jimbo44 CN

    The writers aren’t going to like him cause of his outspoken attitude. Shame, He was the best.

    • Bred

      Correct. Voters often blackball players they don’t like, or those that are more entertaining, and in Bauer’s case more interesting.

    • RojoBenjy

      If you took the name Clayton Kershaw and attributed the same numbers, he would be a shoe-in, no contest, no arguments from anyone. Politics…

  5. TR

    A talented pitcher who is opinionated…

  6. Mark Moore

    Well, given this is Keith Law’s opinion and he has zero love lost for our Reds, is anyont surprised?

    • Charlie Waffles

      No, not at all. Keith Law is the king of bias while also a complete moron.

      • Roger Garrett

        Dude is like watching paint dry.His opinion on any subject is just boring even if it is shared by others.In this case the data is what it is for Bauer in leading 6 out of 10 categories and in the sport that is driven by data more then any other what is he drinking.More then likely it is personal.I love Bauer cause he can talk the talk and walk the walk.Guys like him are loved by his teammates and not so loved by everybody else.Reds need a whole team just like him.

      • Jimbo44 CN

        I agree with Roger. Perfect example was Dennis Peszinski of the White Sox, team and town loved him, everybody else hated him, but guess what, He won and they won. Love Bauer.

      • Jimbo44 CN

        Sorry, AJ Peszinski. I remember that Hawk Harrelson called him Dennis the Menace as he stirred up so much trouble and that was on my mind.

  7. Sliotar

    Insulting to Bauer

    Does not reflect well on Law paying attention to all 15 NL teams

    Also … shows how narratives get built before the entire body of season’s work is completed.

    deGrom and Darvish were promoted by media as front-runners after all SPs had 2 or 3 starts. Being in New York and Chicago probably did not hurt, either.

  8. RojoBenjy

    I stopped worrying when i read Keith Law. He should take up comedy, since he’s a joke.

    But he’d fail at it because no one is laughing.

  9. Jrad4reds

    I’m curious, who actually pays to read Keith Laws articles, unless they just want a good laugh, I really do not understand.

  10. Gonzo Reds

    Bauer is the Cy Young hands down. Any other result is a fraud. Heck he even had to be commissioner as the one we have was a joke all of last off season. I agree with most of what he says, find it refreshing actually.

    I for one would like to see him back in a Reds uni next year. He’s not asking for a long term deal, I say we offer him $25M for 2021 (predicted asking price $30M) and see if he takes it.

    • Gene Kehoe

      Totally agree about Bauer except I bet that he goes after $40 mil for one year! And he was correct about Votto’s baserunning blunder. In fact, Votto ALWAYS runs the bases like he’s running on eggshells. He needs to bat down in the order not only because of his low batting average these days but he clogs up the bases for our best hitters when he bats in the upper middle of the order.

  11. Matt WI

    Well, also especially easy to be controversial when Law doesn’t actually have to defend a real vote. He wants the reaction, clearly.

  12. Josh green

    Well…. voter hates bauer. Bauer cant overpower darvish. So award goes to darvish. 🙂 🙂