Astros: Comparing Justin Verlander with other Cy Young finalists

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HOUSTON, TX - JULY 10: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 10: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Astros’ Justin Verlander is one of the three finalists for the 2018 Cy Young award in the AL. How does he stack up against the competition?

It’s that time of the year again. The hardware is handed out to the top players and managers of the Major Baseball League. The Astros’ ace pitcher, Justin Verlander, is once again a finalist for the American League Cy Young Award, along with Blake Snell (Tampa Bay) and Corey Kluber (Cleveland).

This is the fourth time Verlander has been named a finalist for the AL Cy Young award, winning once in 2017 and twice a runner-up. Will he bring home another one to the Astro or be a runner-up for a third time? Let’s take a closer look at the three finalists.

Verlander ended the season with a record of 16-9. He finished with a 2.52 ERA, the best since his 2011 season, when he won the award by a unanimous vote. Snell won 21 games against five losses, while Kluber was 20-7 while their ERA’s were 1.89 and 2.89, respectively.

When you look at Snell’s win-loss record and impressive ERA, it may seem he would be the odds-on favorite to take the award. The only other stat that Snell won out over both  Verlander and Kluber, by a large margin, was his opponents batting average of .178. Verlander’s was .200 and Kluber’s .223.

But when you dig deeper into the statistics, that’s where Justin Verlander starts to stand out in the crowd. He beat out his two contenders and led the entire league in four other key statistics. He had his best year yet in total strikeouts with a league leading total of 290. Combine that with only 37 walked batters, and his strikeout to walk ratio was a whopping 7.84, a full point over Kluber and double that of Snell.

Verlander also led the league with a 0.90 WHIP (Walks +Hits/Innings Pitched) compared to Snell with a 0.97 and Kluber’s 0.99. He also had a .242 OBP (opponents on-base percentage), the lowest of anyone in the league and a full ten percentage points below the other two pitchers up for the award.

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So while you look at some of the more common and flashier statistics, Snell might look like the more obvious winner. But when the whole picture is taken into account, the competition may be a little closer than one would think. If you were one of the sports writers with a vote, who would you give the nod to?

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