Between Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw, voters were given a difficult decision on who to pick for Cy Young, but with all three so close together, that difficult decision had no real wrong answer. Greinke had the amazing ERA, Kershaw had the amazing peripheral numbers, and Jake Arrieta had a terrific combination of the two as well as a magnificent second half. The combination worked magnificently for Arrieta as he took home the Cy Young award with 17 of the 30 first place votes, per BBWAA. John Lackey also appeared on one ballot, receiving a fifth place vote, thereby finishing ninth in the Cy Young voting.
The full results are below:
John Lackey had a very good year for the Cardinals. His 218 innings paced the team and provided much needed stability after Adam Wainwright went down early in the year. His strikeout numbers were not great, but he kept the walks down, and thanks to timely pitching and good defense, his ERA was just 2.77, seventh best in the National League, and fifth among pitchers with more than 200 innings. The voter who put Lackey on the ballot, Mel Antonen of SI.com, might very well have had that in mind when casting his vote as he went Greinke, Arrieta, Kershaw, Cole, Lackey, the exact order of ERA leaders in the National League except for Mets starters Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, who both stayed under 200 innings for the year.
While Lackey would not have been on my ballot, in addition, and in part due to his low runs allowed total, the salty bulldog finished fifth in the National League in bWAR at 5.7, although his peripheral statistics kept his fWAR lower at 3.6, 13th in the NL. After the season, Lackey had pitched well enough to earn a qualifying offer, which he has since rejected to test free agency. Should Lackey sign with another team, the Cardinals will receive a draft pick, although with Lance Lynn gone for all of next season due to recovery from Tommy John surgery, it is possible to envision Lackey returning to the Cardinals.
Locally, Bernie Miklasz and Joe Strauss each had votes for the NL Cy Young. Miklasz went Arrieta, Kershaw, Greinke, Cole, Scherzer while Strauss voted Greinke, Arrieta, Kershaw, Cole, Scherzer. As I mentioned at the top of the post, the top three really could have come in any order, and depending on your belief in peripherals like strikeout rate, walk rate, and home runs allowed, an argument could be made for moving Scherzer ahead of Greinke. I think I would have gone with Kershaw. He's been the best pitcher on the planet for several years and in my view his incumbency helps him when the race is so tight.
It might have been a slight surprise to see Lackey on a Cy Young ballot, but he did have a very good year for the Cardinals when they needed him. John Mozeliak's trade of Allen Craig and Joe Kelly for Lackey is one of his best. The Cardinals paid very little for a year and a half of production, and they are likely to get a draft pick in addition to that production which included a phenomenal Game start in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals might fare a little better in the balloting next season if they can get a strong return from Adam Wainwright or a full season from Cy Young dark horse Carlos Martinez.