Last Week: Unranked (honorable mention)
A month ago, Max Scherzer had a 4.72 ERA and a .270 opponents' batting average to his name. He had given up 20 home runs over 127.2 innings pitched in his first 22 starts.
Ever since, Scherzer has been as dominant as any pitcher in baseball.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer has compiled a 1.26 ERA and a .195 opponents' batting average. He's struck out 53 and allowed only two home runs over 43 innings pitched.
Suddenly, Scherzer finds himself sitting on a 15-6 record and a respectable 3.85 ERA. He also leads all of baseball with an 11.23 K/9, and he has a slight edge over Justin Verlander for the major league lead in strikeouts with 213.
Some of you are probably sitting there thinking that a 3.85 ERA hardly makes Scherzer a worthy Cy Young candidate, strikeouts and win total be damned.
You're not wrong, but Scherzer's situation is worthy of a deeper dive.
The truth is that his 3.85 ERA is misleading. It's largely a result of the absurdly high .358 BABIP he compiled over his first 22 starts. It was just a matter of time before that number leveled out, at which point Scherzer's ERA would more closely resemble his FIP.
Sure enough, Scherzer's BABIP over his last six starts checks in at a far more reasonable .283, and there's not much of a disparity at the moment between his 3.85 ERA and his 3.33 FIP (via FanGraphs).
For what it's worth, Scherzer's 3.33 FIP is the fifth-lowest mark in the American League. He's also tied for fifth in the AL with Yu Darvish in WAR.
So don't think that Scherzer has a spot in these rankings just because he's been hot recently. He's pitched well all year. He's on this list simply because he's finally getting results.