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Early Season Cy Youngs: Zack Greinke in AL, Dan Haren in NL?

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Yesterday, I took a shot at naming the early, early season MVPs. However, I didn't include pitchers so maybe I should've called it the leagues best hitters. In any event, I'll take this post here to go through the best pitchers in each league and see who were April's Cy Young candidates. Like yesterday, here is the WAR leader board provided by Fangraphs.

Name

WAR

Dollars

Zack Greinke

2

$9.10

Dan Haren

1.7

$7.60

Javier Vazquez

1.5

$6.70

Tim Lincecum

1.4

$6.20

FelixHernandez

1.4

$6.10

Gil Meche

1.3

$6.10

Johan Santana

1.3

$6.00

Roy Halladay

1.3

$6.00

Glen Perkins

1.2

$5.50

ChadBillingsley

1.2

$5.30

I wrote about Greinke's amazing start earlier this week, and in yesterday's post Steve Slowinski mentioned that Greinke leads the Majors in WAR and could be a legit candidate for AL MVP should he continue that. But for now I'll just award him as the AL Cy Young for the Month of April.

Greinke currently holds the top spot in the pitching Triple Crown categories. He is tied for the league lead in wins(5), and is the outright leader in ERA(0.50) and strikeouts(44). He also has two complete games (one shutout) and had a nifty scoreless streak to start the season. His 1.49 FIP is a major league best and that is anchored by a K/9 of 11 and a BB/9 of just 2.0. It also helps that he hasn't allowed a home run in 36 innings. His closest competition is Felix Hernandez who is 0.6 WAR behind Greinke. Hernandez is 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA. His 2.51 suggests that the ERA is indeed a true reflection on how he has pitched. However, Greinke is on another level right now.

In the NL, the April Cy Young is not as cut and dry. Going by WAR, Dan Haren gets the nod inspite of an offense that has earned him three losses. At 3-3, Haren has been the poster boy for why win/loss record alone is not a good measurement of a pitchers ability. He's given up just seven runs in 43 innings (1.47 ERA) and his K/BB rate is a wonderful 6.71. Unlike Greinke, who has just been the clear cut best pitcher in his league, there are quite a few contenders in the NL. Even though Johan Santana has a WAR of just 1.3, he is the NL leader in ERA and is just three strikeouts behind Haren although he has 11 less innings pitched. This is because Santana has the third best K/9 in the league at 12.12.

Other contenders include Javier Vazquez, who despite a 3.38 ERA leads the NL with a 1.71 FIP. Always one of the better strikeout pitchers, Vazquez currently has a career best K/9 of 11.81. The biggest difference this season for Javier has been a dramatic drop in HR/9. He has surrendered just one long ball in 32 innings so far.

We couldn't have an NL Cy Young discussion without mentioning Tim Lincecum, who is looking to repeat his accomplishment from 2008. Despite a rough start, Lincecum is second in the NL with a K/9 of 12.35 and second in FIP at 1.91. He joins Greinke and Vazquez as the only pitchers with sub two FIPs headed into the month of May. Also like Vazquez and Greinke, Lincecum has kept the ball in the yard, giving up just one home run in 31 innings.

While Greinke stands out in the American League, there really isn't a right or wrong answer in the NL right now.