The race for this year’s NL Cy Young award has been hotly contested, and with no clear favorite in place the presumptive winner is anyone’s guess. As of now, the public and pundits alike seem to identify Max Scherzer, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Madison Bumgarner, and even Clayton Kershaw (despite his injuries) as the logical choices. While all of these players have had great seasons and certainly made compelling cases for themselves, one man’s contributions have flown inexplicably under the radar. When I tried to come up with reasons for why this may be, nothing really added up: his numbers jump off the page, his team is in the midst of a playoff push, and he pitches in one of baseball’s bigger markets. This is an oversight that’s too large to ignore, so I decided to write this article as a means of shining light on the candidate no one seems to talk about: Noah Syndergaard.
Now, I know what those of you that didn’t just have an “ah ha” moment are probably thinking: obviously Noah Syndergaard should be in the race, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. But espn.com’s Cy Young predictor does not even give him top 10 odds to win the award (http://www.espn.com/mlb/features/cyyoung), and the vast majority of articles profiling the race fail to mention his name along with the other front-runners (seriously, google it). Just how big of a travesty is this? The numbers don’t lie: Syndergaard ranks 3rd among NL qualifiers in ERA, 4th in K%, 7th in BB% despite his high strikeout rate, 1st and 2nd in ERA indicators FIP and xFIP respectively, and first in WAR. Along with this, he’s fallen victim to a .328 BABIP, the 4th highest mark among qualified NL pitchers. While this is partly a result of his velocity, it’s still nearly 50 points above his mark from last year and his standing relative to other pitchers suggests he has gotten a little unlucky in that regard. And speaking of his velocity, he paces all of baseball with his fastball and power slider, which should only serve to gain him intangible votes and recognition.
Overall, it’s evident that Noah Syndergaard should be far from an honorable mention in the race for the NL Cy Young award. In fact, you could make a strong case to put him as the favorite. Regardless of where exactly he stacks up, there’s no denying that he deserves more recognition as one of the game’s brightest young players and best pitchers overall. If he continues to pitch to his capabilities over the season’s final stretch, it will be nearly impossible to overlook him for much longer.