Hello, and welcome to the SB Nation Pitcher of the Year award voting! This is for one pitcher to represent both leagues. You might end up voting for a Dodger. There is no shame in that. I mean, a little. There's a little shame. But there's also a way around this.
The best candidates, in no particular order:
Sale is my favorite pitcher to watch, certainly. He's also my favorite pitcher to describe, as his delivery reminds me of a tetherball going around a Lego pole that crumbles to the Earth and then spontaneously regenerates. He also doesn't get to pitch against opposing pitchers, which is an abomination, but he still gets extra credit for that.
Have you checked out his contract? His agent basically told the White Sox, "We'll take the Bumgarner" and now both teams are absolutely thrilled with their young, inexpensive lefties. Fine work, all around.
Price certainly could be my favorite pitcher to watch. For, say, seven years. Maybe eight. I'm drunk on fermented offseason right now, don't throw in this in my face when he's awful in three years.
He probably wasn't as good as any of the NL pitchers, though, even after the no-DH caveat. This is just here in the interest of Junior Circuit fairness.
Also here just to balance the ranks. But does anyone remember the year Minute Maid Park opened? The 300-foot fences, the weird hill, the cheap home runs ... there was no way there was ever going to be a Cy Young winner from there.
Now it's just a normal park, no big deal. And the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young is an Astros pitcher who emerged from the mists after a nondescript minor league career. Baseball, man. It's even weird with the ballparks.
I'm slowly becoming a Price fan in my fantasy world where the Giants have unlimited resources and they get to choose between him or Greinke. Younger and less mileage. But I guess that means he'll get paid $50 million more than a guy who will make like $160 million, so I could go either way. And by either way, I mean Wei-Yi Chen.
Greinke is your choice if you're into ERA. Like, really into ERA. Unadjusted and raw. It's always cool to see someone with an ERA under 2.00, part about the Dodgers aside, and he went into the All-Star break with an ERA of 1.30. He was at 2.17 in the second half, the slob, and that probably cost him the Cy Young.
According to Baseball-Reference, he had the highest WAR. Part of that had to do with his hitting, but by any measure he had an incredible season.
It was fun for a while when he looked askew. Early in the year, Kershaw was giving up three or four runs in every other start, and his ERA was in the 4.00s in the middle of May. "Ha ha!", Giants fans said. "Pitchers can't be that good forever! Told you so!"
In 24 starts after that: 1.39 ERA in 174 innings pitched, 228 strikeouts to 26 walks. Arrieta will get the press for his wacky September, and rightfully so. But Kershaw had an amazing end-season run, too. It just started in the middle of the season.
Kershaw is your choice if you're looking for the best pitcher. His FIP was the best in baseball, which means his FanGraphs WAR was the best by a wide margin. He's been the best pitcher alive for the last few years ... why not now? Because of ERA? You simpleton, how dare you.
I used to get him confused with Jason Hammel. That's, uh, not happening as much these days. Arrieta is probably going to win the award because he's the only one over 20 wins, which isn't the worst tiebreaker in the world. At least, it's not as bad as alphabetical order or a series of coin flips. Close, but not quite.
Arrieta is your choice if you're a believer in park factors. At least the mental one that you get to assign based on whim. WAR and ERA+ account for them already, but it feels like the best tiebreaker in the world is that he pitched in Wrigley and the other two pitched in Dodger Stadium. Wrigley is a neutral park these days, and Dodger Stadium isn't exactly the Astrodome in the '80s, but it still makes a difference.
Arrieta is also your choice if you hate the Dodgers, so ...
Me? I'd vote for Kershaw. I think he was the best pitcher, wins or ERA be damned. I'm not an FIP zealot, but 300 strikeouts have to count for something. Your vote will count in the overall voting for the SB Nation Pitcher of the Year. You could do the right thing, or you could hose a pair of Dodgers. Which might be the right thing.
I'm so conflicted.