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In 2009, Madison Bumgarner was ranked as Baseball America’s ninth best prospect in all of baseball. Entering 2010 he was 14th overall. In three seasons in the minors he went 34-6 with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 355 innings. He posted an even more impressive SO/BB of 4.09, showing impeccable control for such a young pitcher who just came out of high school.
Somehow in 2011, especially in the second half, he got even better.
April was rough for Bumgarner, posting a record of 0-4 with a 6.17 ERA, walking 11 batters in 23 innings. From May onwards however, he was flat out dominant.
In June, he had 31 strikeouts against only three walks, good for a SO/BB ratio of 10.33. In July, he “slumped” to a 7.7 SO/BB ratio. While his ERAs were 4.28 and 3.69 for those two months respectively, his peripherals suggested something great was coming, and in August and September/October, he was better than great. He went a combined 7-3, with a 2.17 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, with a SO/9 of 9.2. Best of all, for the entire season, even after his April ERA of 6.17, his cumulative ERA was 3.27, with an FIP of 2.67, good for fourth best in all of baseball.
In addition, Bumgarner benefits from pitching in the most pitcher friendly park in the league, not to mention a San Francisco Giants rotation loaded with talent. Pitching behind guys like Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain means Madison won’t be facing the aces of other teams most of the time, but rather the third or fourth starter, giving him a decided advantage every time he takes the hill. In addition, the Giants finally added some offense this offseason in Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Buster Posey while maintaining a great bullpen, enhancing Madison’s chances of success even more.
All of the candidates written about here are very qualified and could very easily win a Cy Young in 2012. However, with a rising K/9 and GB rate, combined with a lower BB/9, HR/FB and an unbelievable second half where he went 9-4 with a 2.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, my choice would be Madison Bumgarner.