Box-Toppers points leader Snell wins AL Cy Young; deGrom wins NL Cy Young despite his numbers

Box-Toppers postseason awards.png

Rays pitcher Blake Snell, who led all players in Box-Toppers points in 2018, was voted the American League Cy Young Award winner Wednesday.

Box-Toppers Cy Young award ballot

Here are Box-Toppers' ballot selections for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) 2018 Cy Young awards. The ballot required voters to rank the top five pitchers in each league.
Players are shown with their team and their Box-Toppers point (BTP) total for 2018.

AL Cy Young
Player Team BTP
1 Blake Snell Rays 25.5
2 Justin Verlander Astros 24.1
3 Corey Kluber Indians 21.7
4 Chris Sale Red Sox 21.1
5 Carlos Carrasco Indians 19.8
NL Cy Young
Player Team BTP
1 Max Scherzer Nationals 25.1
2 Aaron Nola Phillies 20.1
3 Jacob deGrom Mets 16.8
4 Patrick Corbin Diamondbacks 16.0
5 German Marquez Rockies 15.7

But Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who won the National League Cy Young Award, ranked third in Box-Toppers points among NL pitchers and in fact, would have needed another half season worth of points to catch Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, who led NL pitchers.

The awards are voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Snell led all players in 2018 with 25.5 Box-Toppers points, just ahead of Scherzer, the second-place player overall, with 25.1 points. The top four finishers in the AL Cy Young vote were also the top AL pitchers in Box-Toppers points (see the charts below for voting finishes and Box-Toppers rankings).

  • Snell finished first with 17 first-place votes.

  • Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, who finished second with the other 13 first-place votes, had 24.1 Box-Toppers points.

  • Indians pitcher Corey Kluber, who finished third in voting, had 21.7 Box-Toppers points.

  • Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, who finished fourth in voting, had 21.1 Box-Toppers points.

In the NL, Scherzer led the overall Box-Toppers player rankings most of the season—he led for 120 days while Snell led rankings only four days, including taking the lead for good only on the final Saturday of the regular season.

By contrast, deGrom did not join the Box-Toppers top 10 list among NL pitchers until August and only by earning 3.0 points in the final 10 days of the season did he rise to third place at the end. He finished the season in 12th place among all players. (Note: An error uncovered while writing this post shows he was credited with an extra 1.0 Box-Toppers point he did not earn in 2018, so his previous total of 17.8 for the season is corrected to 16.8 in this post.)

Scherzer finished with 25.1 Box-Toppers points, which was well ahead of even second-place NL pitcher Aaron Nola of the Phillies (20.1) and far outpacing third-place NL pitcher deGrom (16.8), who would have needed 8.4 more points—50 percent of his 2018 total—to pass Scherzer.

deGrom won the NL Cy Young despite having the fewest wins (10) of any starting pitcher to ever win the award. But deGrom led all pitchers with the lowest earned run average (1.70). While he had an objectively great season, his team did not provide him much support when he pitched. But they did not finish far below .500 (77-85).

He became a popular choice among voters, but by Box-Toppers measurements he didn’t measure up. 

Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games, so to earn Box-Toppers points, you need to earn Player of the Game honors and to earn Player of the Game honors, your team needs to win games. The Mets were 14-18 when deGrom pitched, winning 43.75 percent of those games (compared to the 47.5 percent of their overall games—so, in other words, the Mets were slightly worse with deGrom pitching). Cy Young voters apparently took into account deGrom’s performances in those 18 losses. But Box-Toppers didn’t. In Box-Toppers’ view, to be considered a top player in the game, your team needs to win. When deGrom pitched, the Mets most often did not win and he did not help them move the needle toward victory.

But if you look at his season, there’s not a single bad line score in any of his games. He struck out more than 10 batters in a game on 11 different occasions—seven of them in losses. It’s almost like he pitched better when the Mets lost.

But I can’t really budge from the stance that winning the game is the more important—and in fact, the most important thing. And it’s not that deGrom didn’t earn the “win,” as in the pitching statistic. I agree that the stat is an often misleading measure of pitcher’s performance. What I’m talking about is simply having the team win the game. Because if the team doesn’t win, Box-Toppers doesn’t even take into account those deGrom performances in losses, no matter how spectacular they were. It’s as if they don’t even exist.

Given all that, deGrom did well despite the fact the team didn’t win when he pitched. In the 14 Mets wins in which he appeared, he was Box-Toppers Player of the Game in 12 of them, including in nine of his 10 wins. He earned Player of the Game three times when he earned a no decision.

He earned 4.8 more Box-Toppers points in bonus points, winning NL Player of the Day honors four times (worth 0.7 bonus points each) and overall Player of the Day honors twice (worth 1.0 bonus point each).

Though 29 of 30 Cy Young voters disagree, Scherzer was the better candidate for NL Cy Young because he was the player who most helped his team win the most games. It would have been Scherzer’s third straight NL Cy Young Award and fourth overall. He has led NL pitchers in Box-Toppers points for three straight seasons.

Scherzer was Player of the Game in 16 of the Nationals wins. (He appeared in 33 games, including 22 team wins.) He earned bonus points 10 of the 16 times he earned Player of the Game, including seven times as overall Player of the Day (worth an extra 1.0 point each time) and three times as NL Player of the Day (worth an extra 0.7 points each time). Scherzer went 18-7 and earned Player of the Game in 13 of those wins, earning the other three while picking up a no decision.

Snell, the AL Cy Young winner, was Player of the Game 20 times in 2018, earning the win 19 of those times and picking up a no-decision once. Snell led all pitchers in total wins with 21. He earned AL Player of the Day honors five times (worth 0.7 bonus points each time) and overall Player of the Day honors twice (worth 1.0 bonus point each time).

Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco is Box-Toppers’ highest-ranking player who did not earn Cy Young votes. Carrasco earned 19.8 Box-Toppers points in 2018, seventh among all players and fifth among AL pitchers.

Rockies pitcher German Marquez is Box-Toppers highest-ranking NL pitcher to earn no Cy Young votes. Marquez earned 15.7 Box-Toppers points in 2018, 15th among all players, fifth among NL pitchers and only 1.1 points behind NL Cy Young winner deGrom.

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America also voted Snell and deGrom as their Cy Young winners in voting results announced Wednesday. Box-Toppers votes in the IBWAA awards and voted for Snell and Scherzer for the awards. Here are the IBWAA results:

AL Cy Young

NL Cy Young

About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

Box-Toppers strives for accuracy. See a mistake in a post? A wrong name, wrong team, grammar error, spelling goof, etc.? Thanks for pointing it out! Contact Box-Toppers here. Let's fix it and make it right.

American League Cy Young Award voting

Blake Snell of the Rays was voted AL Cy Young Award winner for the league’s top pitcher. Below are the AL pitchers in order of their voting finish, shown with their first- through fifth-place votes and their voting points total. Also shown are each player’s Box-Toppers point (BTP) total for 2018 and their rank in points among AL pitchers.

AL pitcher Team Pos 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Points BTP Rank
1 Blake Snell Rays pi sp 17 11 2 169 25.5 1
2 Justin Verlander Astros pi sp 13 13 3 1 154 24.1 3
3 Corey Kluber Indians pi sp 4 12 7 5 71 21.7 4
4 Chris Sale Red Sox pi sp 2 8 12 3 59 21.1 5
5 Gerrit Cole Astros pi sp 3 4 9 26 18.0 8
6 Trevor Bauer Indians pi sp 1 3 4 13 14.1 19
7 Blake Treinen Athletics pi cp 1 3 4 13 10.0 52
7 Edwin Diaz Mariners pi cp 4 4 9.0 59
8 Luis Severino Yankees pi sp 1 1 17.7 10
BTP: Box-Toppers points

National League Cy Young Award voting

Jacob deGrom of the Mets was voted NL Cy Young Award winner for the league’s top pitcher. Below are the NL pitchers in order of their voting finish, shown with their first- through fifth-place votes and their voting points total. Also shown are each player’s Box-Toppers point (BTP) total for 2018 and their rank in points among NL pitchers.

NL pitcher Team Pos 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Points BTP Rank
1 Jacob deGrom Mets pi sp 29 1 207 16.8 12
2 Max Scherzer Nationals pi sp 1 29 123 25.1 2
3 Aaron Nola Phillies pi sp 27 2 1 86 20.1 6
4 Kyle Freeland Rockies pi sp 2 17 9 49 12.4 30
5 Patrick Corbin Diamondbacks pi sp 7 9 23 16.0 13
6 Miles Mikolas Cardinals pi sp 1 1 8 13 11.7 33
7 Josh Hader Brewers pi cp mr 1 2 4 10.7 45
8 Mike Foltynewicz Braves pi sp 1 1 3 13.7 22
9 Jon Lester Cubs pi sp 1 2 10.7 40
BTP: Box-Toppers points