Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve taken a look at our top five American League and National League Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year candidates for the 2022 Major League Baseball season.
As part of our 2022 Major League Baseball award selections, here are my top American League Cy Young Award candidates:
5) Framber Valdez, Houston Astros
31 starts, 201.1 IP, 17-6, 2.82 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 137 ERA+, 3.7 WAR, 2.9 SO/W
Despite losing star shortstop Carlos Correa to free agency last winter, the Houston Astros won 106 games in 2022,. It helped that they had two American League Cy Young candidates.
Framber Valdez might not have gotten the same kind of fanfare as his teammate that is also on this list and he likely won’t win the award, but his outstanding 2022 season should be recognized.
Valdez set a new MLB single-season record with 25 straight quality starts. From April 25 to September 18, Valdez was the most consistent pitcher in the American League.
4) Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
28 starts, 166 IP, 15-9, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 172 ERA+, 6.1 WAR, 4.98 SO/W
Ohtani pitched even better this season than he did in his American League MVP season in 2021, earning him consideration for the award once again in 2022.
Ohtani pitched 35.2 more innings, had an ERA nearly a run lower (2.33 to last year’s 3.18), a lower WHIP (1.01 to last year’s 1.09) and a better ERA+ (172 to 141) than he did a season ago.
If you thought Ohtani’s 2021 season was remarkable — and it was — he was even better in 2022. Ohtani didn’t receive a single Cy Young vote in 2021. In 2022, he should finish in the top five in voting for the award and he has a legitimate case to repeat as the AL MVP, as a top five pitcher and top ten hitter in the American League.
3) Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox
32 starts, 184 IP, 14-8, 2.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 180 ERA+, 6.4 WAR, 2.91 SO/W
Dylan Cease took a gigantic step forward in 2022, emerging as the Chicago White Sox ace and one of the best pitchers in the American League.
White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn finished third in AL Cy Young voting a year ago, and Cease’s 2022 was even better than Lynn’s 2021. For the second straight season, the White Sox had a top-three pitcher in the American League.
2) Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays
31 starts, 196.2 IP, 16-7, 2.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 174 ERA+, 5.9 WAR, 3.53 SO/W
Alek Manoah quietly had an incredible sophomore season in 2022. He pitched the fourth-most amount of innings in the AL, and despite pitching in baseball’s toughest division with the most amount of hitter-friendly ballparks, logged the third-lowest ERA and the fourth-lowest WHIP in the AL.
Manoah and Cease are close, but I give Manoah the edge because he threw 12.2 more innings. That’s the amount of two more starts, even though Cease started more games than Manoah did. Durability and the ability to pitch deep into games is extremely valuable in an era where starting pitchers are pitching shorter outings than ever before.
1) Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
28 starts, 175 IP, 18-4, 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 220 ERA+, 5.9 WAR, 6.38 SO/W
I still don’t know how Justin Verlander did it. He had pitched just one game since the end of the 2019 season entering 2022. In his age-39 season and 18th year of his career, coming off Tommy John surgery, Verlander posted his best ERA (1.75) and ERA+ (220) of his career.
The 2011 AL MVP will take home his third AL Cy Young Award later this fall.