The National League Cy Young Award will be announced early Thursday afternoon, and there are a trio of pitchers with viable claims to the trophy.
Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Tim Lincecum are the front runners to win, but one of the main things to keep in mind as the results are announced is that it is rare to see two pitchers from the same team vying for the Cy Young.
For this reason, I see Carpenter and Wainwright splitting votes and weakening the chances of either to take home the honor.
Between the two Redbirds, I would personally give the nod to Carpenter over Wainwright, the main reason being that the St. Louis offense simply produced more runs, for whatever reason, behind Wainwright.
Consider this: Wainwright received 5.5 runs per start, while Carpenter got just 4.6 runs per start. That means Wainwright had virtually an entire run more of support per game throughout the season. This allowed him more margin for error on the mound.
That's not to say Wainwright was unimpressive, but rather just suggesting that Carpenter was that much more impressive.
However, I do think that no matter how the voting shakes out, it is going to reflect a schism between the two in shares of votes.
This voting debacle could and, in my opinion, will result in Lincecum catapulting past the duo and earning his second consecutive Cy Young award.
A knock against Lincecum's candidacy could be his 15 wins not stacking up with the 17 for Carpenter and 19 for Wainwright, but as Zack Greinke proved on Tuesday, wins are not all they're cracked up to be.
If you adjust records for wins lost and losses saved, Lincecum balances out more evenly with Carpenter and Wainwright.
Timmy's record goes to 18-8, while Carpenter's levels out at 19-7 and Wainwright's jumps to 22-10.
Examining the pitchers in more depth than just records, Lincecum still stacks up as a pitcher very much deserving of the Cy Young.
With that said, let's examine how I think the top five should look, and it's stacked with a powerful group of right-handers.
Tim Lincecum (15-7, 2.48 ERA)
"The Freak" led the league in strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts.
He also lowered his Cy Young-winning ERA from 2.62 in 2009 down to 2.48 in 2010.
That assumption would be correct in regards to Wainwright, but Timmy got the same runs per start (4.6) as Carpenter did for the Cardinals.
Chris Carpenter (17-4, 2.24 ERA)
Carpenter went 12-1 after the end of June and was virtually untouchable for the stretch run.
He led the league in ERA (2.24) and adjusted ERA-plus (183).
Carpenter would be the first starting pitcher ever to win the Cy Young without recording 200 innings during a non strike-shortened season.
When he took home the crown in 2005, he tossed 241.2 innings compared to 192.2 in 2009.
Now I'm not saying that his inning total is anything to scoff at, but it certainly raises questions as to the whether his complete body of work is up to par.
If he takes home the Cy Young, it would set a unique precedent for winners in the future.
Adam Wainwright (19-8, 2.63 ERA)
Wainwright led the league in innings pitched and wins, and he allowed two runs or fewer in 26 of his 34 starts.
Somewhat forgotten behind the spectacular season of Carpenter, Wainwright's talent must not be ignored.
Danny Haren (14-10, 3.14 ERA)
Haren was the early season favorite for the award before hitting some harder times in the second half of the season.
The right-hander led the league in walks, hits per inning pitched (1.003), and strikeout-to-walk ratio, with a ridiculous 5.87 (223 K/38 BB).
He got only 4.4 runs per start on a woeful Arizona Diamondbacks club, but one major knock on his resume are the 27 home runs he gave up in 33 starts.
Josh Johnson (15-5, 3.23)
Johnson had the second most wins lost (five) in the National League, and he recorded a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 3-to-1 (191 K/58 BB).
Based on raw ability, Johnson is right up there with the best of them, but he still has to more development to undergo before he has a serious claim to the Cy Young.
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