I’m not sure Ian Kennedy hates advanced metrics, but if he cares about personal accomplishments and off-season award, he probably wishes it were three years ago. Over the course of the last couple years, baseball writers have put more stock in advanced metrics when voting during awards season (see Felix Hernandez Cy Young with 13-12 record). Unfortunately for Kennedy, these advanced, more accurate, stats will probably preclude him from real Cy Young candidacy.
When have you heard anyone in the media talk about Kennedy for Cy Young? Never? All the talk is about Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Clayton Kershaw in the National League. But the truth is, three years ago a 20-4 season with a sub 3.00 ERA would have all but guaranteed a pitcher the Cy Young. Now, I’m on board for Halladay, Lee, or Kershaw taking home the award, but I’ll admit, I still marvel at 20+ wins. I agree wins are less meaningful than we all previously thought, so I resist the urge to crown a Cy Young based on a 20 win season. So just how good is Ian Kennedy then?
Kennedy ranks 7th in the NL in pitching WAR, 13th in FIP, 15th in BB/9, and 15th in K/9. These results do not scream Cy Young Candidate. So, let’s look at some of the traditional metrics.
Kennedy ranks 1st in wins, 5th in innings pitched, 9th in ERA, and 6th in strikeouts. These numbers and rankings would be more indicative of a Cy Young season. However, combined with some of the advanced metrics, Kennedy’s season pales in comparison to that of Halladay or Lee or Kershaw.
20 wins will always be a milestone in baseball, but no longer will it be a jumping off point to Cy Young conversations. Three years ago I may have told you Ian Kennedy was the best pitcher in the league. But three years ago I was not paying as much attention to alternative and additional evaluation methods. Ian Kennedy is having a really good year, but I don’t think there’s any question that Halladay, Lee, or Kershaw are having a great year.