Forget Just Winning The Cy Young… Chris Sale Is Going To Win The American League MVP Too.
The Red Sox are taking on the Yankees tonight at Yankee Stadium in the rubber match of a 3 game weekend series. The series is tied 1-1, but the Sox are scorching hot right now. They will be looking for their 10th win in the last 11 games, and with Chris Sale taking the hill tonight I am about ready to throw in a “W” in the box score now.
Sale has been lights out all season. He’s currently 14-4 and could easily be 17-1 if the offense had given him any run support at the beginning of the year. That said, 14 is still good enough to lead the American League in wins. He has 229 strikeouts to lead the major leagues. Max Scherzer is next closest with 210. Oh and if you’re wondering “That’s all well and good, but what is his ERA?” He leads the leads the AL at 2.57. Now we can go through his stats and break down the numbers all day, but the bottom line is Chris Sale has been the most dominant player in baseball since he showed up at Fenway. He has literally deserved to lose once in 23 starts. The Red Sox would not be leading the pennant race with out him. Not even close. He is undoubtedly the MVP of the Red Sox.
Sale has some competition if he is going to pull off winning both awards. Jose Altuve of the Astros and Aaron Judge of the Yankees have put together outstanding seasons as well.
Altuve is 5’6″ and 165 lbs, but he is an offensive juggernaut. Sound familiar? Jose Altuve is the Isaiah Thomas of baseball. He’s currently leading the AL in batting average (.361), on base percentage (.422), total bases (251), and hits (161). The Astros are having a phenomenal year. At 71-45 they are first in their division and look strong heading into September. Altuve is a beast and Sale will have to pitch his dick off for the rest of the year to hold him off for MVP.
Aaron Judge started this season like he was shot out of a cannon. He still leads the AL in home runs (35), walks (85), and runs (87), but he has cooled off significantly after launching balls to the moon on his way to win the Home Run Derby. Between the stigma around the how the Derby affects a player’s swing and being in just his second season, I think Judge will continue to cool off.
Although it’s unusual for a starting pitcher to win the MVP and the Cy Young award, it has been done. Justin Verlander won both awards in the same year back in 2011. Chris Sale is on pace to match or beat Verlander in most statistical categories.
Let’s assume Sale and Verlander both start 34 games as Verlander did back in 2011. Sale has started 23 games this season (68% of Verlander’s 34 starts in 2011.) Chris Sale will easily pass Verlander in strikeouts. He has 229 in 23 starts. Verlander had 250 in 34 starts in 2011. In terms of win/loss record, Sale has a chance to beat Verlander’s 2011 record of 24-5. Chris Sale has only lost 4 games so far this year. Verlander lost 5 games in his 2011 MVP season. Although 10 more wins might be tough, it doesn’t speak to how Sale has pitched all season because of the lack of run support at the beginning of the season. All of that said, if Sale goes 10-1 in his last 11 starts he will have the same record as Verlander did in 2011 and waaaay more strikeouts. With their ERAs being comparable at 2.57 for Sale and 2.40 for Verlander in 2011, I would say these seasons are comparable with an edge going to Sale via the eyeball test.
Will it be a walk in the park? No, but I am confident in Sale and even more importantly he is confident in himself. I have never seen a guy get more upset with himself for giving up a hit never mind giving up a run. Sale is one of the most intense competitors in baseball today. He will never tell you this, but he wants to win the Cy Young, MVP, and the World Series this year and he knows he can do it. Sale reminds me of Pedro Martinez in the sense that he is the type of guy that you circle the days he is pitching on the calendar. At only 28, he is in the position to win 2 awards in the same year that some players spend their whole careers trying to win. I’m going to enjoy watching him try.
Enjoy the game.