The past five American League Cy Young Award winners are all won 19 games or more.The highest ERA was 3.48. The number of strikeouts ranges from 157-245. Those are pretty impressive numbers.
Here is the actual list with who they pitched for, wins and losses, ERA, and strikeouts, starting in 2009 and working to 2005;
Zach Greinke, Kansas City, 16-8, 2.16, 242.
Cliff Lee, Cleveland, 22-3, 2.54, 170.
CC Sabathia, Cleveland, 19-7, 3.21, 209.
Johan Santana, Minnesota, 19-6, 2.77, 245.
Bartolo Colon, Los Angeles Angels, 21-8, 3.48, 157.
Considering the numbers of the pitcher who won it last year we will set our eligibility requirement at 19+ wins, 3.50 ERA or lower and ignore the strikeouts. Making the playoffs also doesn't matter because two of the five teams boasting a Cy Young winner in the past five years didn't make the playoffs.
So our list of eligible candidates (considering games left and the possibility of getting to 19 wins) looks something like this:
Clay Buchholz, Boston, 15-6, 2.25, 103.
Trevor Cahill, Oakland, 15-6, 2.72, 94.
David Price, Tampa Bay, 17-6, 2.87, 163.
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees, 19-6, 3.14, 170.
Jon Lester, Boston, 16-8, 3.26, 196.
If I have to pick from off that list based on the established eligibility I go with David Price without a question. He has probably been the most feared pitcher in the American League this year. No one wants to see that guy on the mound, except his team mates of course.
But, there is another name that you have to mention. He won't make it to the 19+ wins, but he is second in the American League in ERA, first in strikeouts and first in innings pitched, and that is Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez has been the one bright spot on a team that has just 55 wins. He chews up innings like no other (200+ innings in three consecutive years), strikes batters at an absurd rate (8.6 strike outs per nine innings pitched), and walks batters an an amazingly paltry rate (2.5 walks per nine innings pitched). His strikeout to walk ratio this season is 3.48 and his WHIP is 1.085. And the best part about him? Not once has he publicly complained about being on a bad team. Not once has a report surfaced about him being a bad team mate.
Felix Hernandez deserves the American League Cy Young award this season, it's just a shame he probably won't get it.