Cleveland Indians: Closing argument for Shane Bieber to win Cy Young

Shane Bieber #57 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
Shane Bieber #57 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

The Cy Young Award presentation for the 2020 season will be on Wednesday night and Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians is looking like the favorite.

The American League Cy Young Award will be announced on Wednesday night (Nov. 11) at 6 p.m. on MLB Network and many expect the winner to be Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians. However, that isn’t set in stone. While Bieber had an impressive 2020 campaign, the other candidates have strong cases as well that might make for an argument over the winner.

Joining Bieber on the finalist list are Kenta Maeda of the Minnesota Twins and Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only were Maeda and Ryu not in the American League last year, but they were both teammates on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, they are both finalists for the American League Cy Young Award while the Dodgers are getting sized for their World Series rings.

For Maeda, he had a solid season, producing a 6-1 record over 11 starts. Tossing a total of 66.2 innings, Maeda maintained a 2.70 ERA while striking out 80 batters. Maeda also registered the best WHIP in all of baseball at 0.75.

Ryu also had a strong year, although it wasn’t as great as his 2019 campaign. Starting 12 games, Ryu finished with a 5-2 record while logging a 2.69 ERA and striking out 72 batters. However, unlike Maeda, he didn’t lead baseball in any stats.

While Maeda and Ryu were impressive, they don’t measure up to the season that Shane Bieber produced for the Cleveland Indians. Bieber led Major League Baseball in six different pitching categories and the American League in an additional two.

Beginning with the stats that we looked at for Maeda and Ryu, we can already start to see that Bieber is far ahead of the competition. Starting 12 games, Bieber went 8-1 with his eight wins being the most in baseball. As for his ERA, it was the lowest in baseball at 1.63. Over the course of the 2020 season, Bieber logged 77.1 innings and totaled 122 strikeouts, which also led the majors. That means that of the three main stats people look at for pitching, being wins, ERA and strikeouts, Bieber led baseball in all of them.

That’s not where the impressive stats end for Bieber. Bieber was able to end the season averaging 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings, becoming the first player in MLB history to average more than 14 strikeouts per nine innings. In fact, no one has even registered 12 strikeouts per nine. Yes, it was a shortened season, but Bieber’s historical strikeout rate is unheard of no matter the length of the season.

Bieber also led the MLB in FIP with a mark of 2.07 and ERA+ at 281. As for the American League alone, Bieber paced the league in hits per nine, giving up just 5.4, and win-loss percentage at .889.

All three of the candidates for the American League Cy Young Award had impressive campaigns during the 2020 season, but there is one that clearly stands out from the rest and that’s Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians. Bieber put together a historical season in more ways than one.

For starters, he led the American League in nine pitching categories, including all the ones that are considered most indicative of a strong performance and season. If leading the league isn’t enough, Bieber was able to not only break an MLB record, but shattered it beyond belief. All respect to Maeda and Ryu, they had great seasons, but this award already has Shane Bieber’s name on it and it shouldn’t be close.

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