Gio González Should Be the Cy Young Front-Runner
When the Nationals acquired Gio González from Oakland this offseason, they thought they were getting a solid addition to an ever improving rotation. No doubt they believed that 2012 would be the last year of treating Stephen Strasburg with kid gloves. González would be a potential No. 2 or No. 3 starter to their presumptive Cy Young contender.
As of Memorial Day, the unofficial one third mark of the season, they have all of that and more. Only manager Davey Johnson, who said he should be fired if he did not lead Washington to the playoffs, could have expected the Nats to be in first place by themselves at this point. A big reason for the resurgence in the nation's capital is González.
Right now, Gio González is putting up numbers that should put him at the top of the Cy Young discussion. For fans of traditional statistics, he has a 7-1 record, which has him on pace to win 20 games this season.
His 2.04 ERA ranks him third in the National League, and his 79 strikeouts is the highest total in all of baseball.
Breaking his stats down even further, he has the lowest hits per nine innings rate in the league, the highest strikeout per inning total and has more than three strikeouts to each walk. He also has the Highest WAR of any National League pitcher; his ERA+ is 191, second only to the Braves' Brandon Beachy.
He is also leading the National League in all sorts of statistics that are over most people's head (162 WL%, WL%/Average Team, Runs Better Than Replacement Level).
If you understand those statistics, then no doubt you are as impressed by González as I am.
There is another pair of factors that is helping González's case. Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum are two perennial Cy Young Contenders. Halladay is injured, and the extent of his injury is not known at this time. A minor injury will certainly cut back on his innings pitched; a major injury all but ends his Cy Young chances.
As for Lincecum, his struggles have been perplexing to say the least. The ace of the team is ironically the one pitcher holding the Giants back right now, as every other starter has been throwing well this season.
Those two contenders seem to be out, leaving a much more wide open Cy Young race for the final sixty percent of the season.
Now González is far from the only contender. Cole Hamels is making a remarkable salary drive and has taken over the role of ace in Philadelphia. Last year's Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw currently has a 1.97 ERA and the fifth-highest WAR for pitchers this season. Brandon Beachy's 1.77 ERA should count for something, and Matt Cain has become the ace of the Giants, at least so far this season.
But the total package so far is González.
Washington gave up A.J. Cole, Derek Norris, Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock to bring in González from the A's last winter. Milone has already contributed in Oakland, Norris will soon be catching in the bigs and Peacock and Cole are two of the best pitching prospects in the game. In the long run, Oakland may have made the right deal.
But in the short run, González might just beat Strasburg to the Cy Young roll call and give Washington their first offseason award since Roger Peckinpaugh in 1925.
Didn't you know this would all come back to Roger Peckinpaugh?
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