By: Tyler Gorecki
Despite his 5-4 record, Trevor Bauer is the obvious choice for the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner. However, W-L records are no longer as relevant, as seen when Jacob deGrom won the National League Cy Young Award in 2018 and 2019 with a 10-9 and 11-8 record respectively. Along with that, Bauer’s team, the Cincinnati Reds, had the lowest team batting average (.212) during the regular season since 1910 and the 2nd lowest ever.
Trevor Bauer had an outstanding 1.73 ERA, 0.795 WHIP, and 12.33 K/9, which ranked 1st, 1st, and 2ndin the National League, respectively. Along with it being the lowest ERA in his career (only below 4.00 one other season), that ERA would place him 71st all-time in the best ERA for a pitcher during a 12 start stretch (he only started 11 games, but Fangraphs had 12 game stretch statistics to estimate the typical number of games started in 60 games). To strengthen that fact, all of Bauer’s games were treated as if they were playoff games, while many of the other pitchers in the 12 game rankings put up these numbers early on in the season during relatively low stress outings. In addition, he was 1st in the NL in Adjusted ERA+, Adjusted Pitching Runs, and Adjusted Pitching wins. He was also 8th in WAR among all NL players. He always fought for his team when he took the mound and gave the Reds a chance to win every time he went out there. Let alone the fact that this was a shortened season, Bauer was so dominant in this 60-game stretch that there was no doubt he would have stayed on this pace or have been even better if this was a full 162 game season. Finally, his stats improved considerably compared to his 10 starts for the Reds last season.
His biggest “weakness” this year was his tendency to give up runs via the homerun ball. With this being said, his home ballpark favored home run hitters and he still managed to be ranked 10th in the NL in HR/9. He improved on this significantly throughout the season and it showed in his late season success. His third ranked NL Championship Win Probability Added by pitchers showed his clutch pitching abilities and explained why he went on to have such a good postseason outing.
While the postseason shouldn’t have an impact, Bauer showed his true dominance against the Braves when he went 7.2 scoreless innings and added 12 strikeouts on top of that. He was unhittable against one of the best offenses in baseball (the Atlanta Braves) and the Reds’ poor offense was once again the main reason the Reds lost that first playoff game. Trevor Bauer should be the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner.