National League Cy Young: Roy Halladay
Yes, Roy Halladay is the favorite to win the award and picking him really isn’t going out on much of a limb, but so what. He’s the best pitcher in baseball and despite that, he works harder than just about anyone else to improve. The Phillies are going to win a ton of games, and by a ton I mean 102. This means that Halladay will almost certainly notch another voter favorite 20+ win season, to go along with 240+ innings and ridiculous splits. The pitcher win really is the most overrated in baseball, but the voters love it. While they got it right with Felix Hernandez last season, even taking wins out of the equation, having a 225K/30BB, 2.35ERA, 1.05WHIP Halladay on a first place Phillies team should all but lock up the award for him. His stiffest competition may just be in the dugout with him. The Phillies, with Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt rival Winchester in the number of high-powered arms they can use against teams. Joe Blanton is the unsung 5th man in the rotation, who himself would be a solid #3 on most teams. Even though the National League has better front-line starters than the American League, and has widened the gap with Lee and Zack Grienke moving to the NL. I still have it handicapped as Halladay in a walk.
American League Cy Young: Clay Buchholz
Since I went chalk in the NL, I decided to take a flier in the American League. This isn’t as big of a reach as my prediction of Ryan Dempster to win the NL Cy Young in 2001, but it’s still out there compared to most “experts.” Here’s the rationale: much like the Phillies, the Red Sox are going to win a lot of games. I can’t ever forecast Josh Beckett to make it through a full season healthy, but even if he did, I don’t think he has the confidence in his stuff to put up a Cy Young type season anyway. It would be easier to pick Lester, but his walk total frightens me, plus he will be facing teams’ #1 starters while Buchholz will be cruising in against their #4s. Buchholz has made some changes in the offseason and will also have the confidence in himself to let the ball fly this year and should increase his strikeout totals this season. He should also eclipse the 200IP mark and while he ERA may not be the 2.33 it was last year, I project upper 2.7s and maybe 18-20 wins in this season. Defending Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and the Rays David Price pose the biggest threats to Buchholz chances, but in the end, the dreaded win-total and being on a playoff team will propel Buchholz to the top spot in the American League.