Expert picks: Who will win the Cy Young?

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We asked 27 of our experts to give us their predictions for who will win baseball's four major awards: Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP. Next up is the Cy Young.

American League

The finalists:

Corey Kluber
Age:
31 | B-T: R/R
HT: 6-4 | WT: 215
2017 stats: 18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 K's
2017 WAR: 8.0

Kluber led the AL in ERA (2.25) and WHIP (0.87) and was tied for the most wins (18). He was second in strikeouts (265) and fourth in innings pitched (203⅔). He also led all MLB pitchers in Baseball-Reference WAR (8.0) and was fourth overall among all players.

Chris Sale
Age:
28 | B-T: L/L
HT: 6-6 | WT: 172
2017 stats: 17-8, 2.90 ERA, 308 K's
2017 WAR: 6.0

In his first season in Boston, Sale led the AL in strikeouts (308) and innings pitched (214⅓). Sale's 308 strikeouts are the second most in Red Sox history behind Pedro Martinez's 313 in 1999.

Luis Severino
Age:
23 | B-T: R/R
HT: 6-2 | WT: 215
2017 stats: 14-6, 2.98 ERA, 230 K's
2017 WAR: 5.3

In his first full season (31 starts) as a starter, Severino finished third in AL in ERA (2.98) and fourth in strikeouts (230). Still just 23 years old, Severino is by far the youngest finalist for the Cy Young in either league.

Expert picks: Kluber 26, Sale 1


National League

The finalists:

Clayton Kershaw
Age:
29 | B-T: L/L
HT: 6-3 | WT: 225
2017 stats: 18-4, 2.31 ERA, 202 K's
2017 WAR: 4.6

Despite missing some time in 2017 with a back injury, Kershaw led the NL in ERA (2.31) and wins (18) and finished eighth in strikeouts (202). Kershaw has won the Cy Young three times (2011, 2013, 2014).

Max Scherzer
Age:
33 | B-T: R/R
HT: 6-3 | WT: 211
2017 stats: 16-6, 2.51 ERA, 268 K's
2017 WAR: 7.3

Scherzer is looking for back-to-back Cy Young Awards after his win in 2016. He also won in 2013 with the Tigers. He led the NL this season in strikeouts (268), WHIP (0.90) and WAR (7.3).

Stephen Strasburg
Age:
29 | B-T: R/R
HT: 6-4 | WT: 235
2017 stats: 15-4, 2.52 ERA, 204 K's
2017 WAR: 6.5

Not to be outdone on the Nats' staff, Strasburg turned in the best season of his career, finishing third in the NL in ERA (2.52) and striking out 204 batters in 175⅓ innings.

Expert picks: Scherzer 23, Kershaw 4

Who will win the AL Cy Young, and who should win?

My pick would be Sale, but I think Kluber will win in a close vote. It should be a close vote -- which of these two pitchers you prefer depends entirely upon which criteria you use to make your choice because the difference in their bottom-line value is thin. I'd pick Sale because he made three more starts, threw 11 more innings and was better at keeping balls out of play. I think Kluber will win based on recency bias -- he was better down the stretch, and his team was the talk of baseball for much of the last two months of the regular season. -- Bradford Doolittle

The arguments resting on full-season statistical totals are so close between Sale and Kluber that it could easily and defensibly go either way. Then we get into some narrative-driven questions: Are you the sort of voter more impressed by Sale's first half and how that got Boston out in front early in a tough AL East race, or are you more impressed by Kluber's second half and his part in the Indians' winning streak? Will this year's voters be more impressed by Sale's 300 strikeouts or Kluber's MLB-best WAR for pitchers? Ultimately, Kluber should win and Sale will, but you could flip those around and buy an argument why. -- Christina Kahrl

Kluber and Kluber. For the longest time, the Cy Young was Sale's award to lose. While Sale lost it in August and September, Kluber won it just the same. The Indians were unbeatable for three weeks, just like their no-nonsense ace for the majority of the season. Not even a back injury in May could derail him, and in the end, Sale vs. Kluber wasn't much of a choice. -- Scott Lauber

Who will win the NL Cy Young, and who should win?

Scherzer is my pick for both. He was dynamic, durable and consistent. His rates are better than Zack Greinke's, and his innings/starts totals are well above those of Strasburg and Kershaw. For me, it's a pretty clear-cut case. -- Doolittle

Scherzer, on both counts. The difference in counting stats because of the extra time Kershaw lost to injury matters -- and it should. Kershaw will have to settle for his second career second-place finish, but this one will seem far less egregious in retrospect than his loss to R.A. Dickey in 2012. -- Kahrl

Scherzer should win and will win. If Kershaw hadn't missed so much time, it might be a different story, but he did, and so it isn't. -- Eddie Matz

Who are your way-too-early picks to win next year?

In the National League, I'm going with Strasburg. He has to stay healthy for a full season, of course, but he was baseball's most devastating pitcher toward the latter part of the 2017 season. His expected wOBA allowed after July 1 (.212) was 28 points better than that of any other pitcher in baseball. The guy has put it all together. In the American League, I'm going with Justin Verlander. I think he's at a point where he can zero in on a run to Cooperstown with another big season or two, and he's in the right environment to do it. -- Doolittle

Scherzer and Kershaw are great picks for the two best pitchers in baseball, and they just happen to be in the same league. After Scherzer wins this year, those two will head into the 2018 season with three Cy trophies apiece. Kershaw breaks that tie and wins his fourth next year by logging his first season with more than 30 starts since 2015. In the American League, Kluber is the safe pick and Severino the trendy one, but I'm going with Verlander. His renewal in Houston is the perfect combination of talent, adaptation, a readiness to use the resources his team can provide and overwhelming run support. He'll tear past 200 career wins by July and inspire fresh arguments that maybe we haven't seen our last 300-game winner after all. -- Kahrl

Kluber and Sale are still firmly in their primes, so barring injury, they will be Cy Young front-runners once again. But Severino stepped forward to lead the Yankees' rotation this season, and at age 24, he's only going to keep getting better. There could be a Cy in his future. Kershaw and Scherzer are perennial Cy Young threats in the National League, but here's a nod to Madison Bumgarner, as long as he stays away from his four-wheeler. -- Lauber

Kershaw in the NL and Severino in the AL. For Kershaw: 1, 2, 1, 1, 3, 5 and probably 2. Those are Kershaw's Cy Young finishes the past seven years, which means you'd have to be an idiot to bet against him. Severino has all the makings of the game's next great power pitcher, and his second-half numbers scream "buy." So I'm buying. -- Matz