Mark Buehrle Is Your Projected AL Cy Young Winner, Plus More Fun With Small Sample Sizes

AP Photo

We’re a little more than a week into the MLB season, and, as usual, people are forgetting how long it takes to iron out the randomness in baseball. Responsible parties will wait until at least sometime in May before making sweeping conclusions about the 2014 season.

Being responsible is so boring, though. You know what’s not boring? Having a few too many Lynchburg Lemonades, calling a bunch of ex-girlfriends, and projecting everyone’s stats across 162 games to facilitate absurd awards and playoff predictions.

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton

Projected season stats: .500/.600/.833, 46 HR, 23 SB, 18.5 fWAR

Hamilton’s back, everybody! It wasn’t too long ago that Hamilton was one of the five best players in the game, and despite age and injury, it looks like he has returned to form in 2014. It’s a good thing, too, because the Angels need him desperately. They look destined for a third-place finish in a tough division and have only a prayer of earning a wild-card berth — particularly considering how few of their aging, overpaid core players have lived up to expectations. Of immediate concern is Albert Pujols, Hamilton’s partner in the middle of the order, a former MVP, and a $25 million–per-year first baseman whose increasingly slow bat and slower feet are threatening to sink the Angels’ offense. Hamilton is performing well in absolute terms, and he’s also keeping his team afloat.

NL MVP: Chase Utley

Projected season stats: .458/.536/.833, 54 HR, 18.9 fWAR

Utley’s back, everybody! It wasn’t too long ago that Utley was one of the five best players in the game, and despite age and injury, it looks like he’s returned to form in 2014. It’s a good thing, too, because the Phillies need him desperately. They look destined for a third-place finish in a tough division and have only a prayer of earning a wild-card berth — particularly considering how few of their aging, overpaid core players have lived up to expectations. Of immediate concern is Ryan Howard, Utley’s partner in the middle of the order, a former MVP, and a $25 million–per-year first baseman whose increasingly slow bat and slower feet are threatening to sink the Phillies’ offense. Utley is performing well in absolute terms, and he’s also keeping his team afloat.

AL Cy Young: Mark Buehrle

Projected season stats: 33-0, 0.00 ERA, 333 K, 0.58 WHIP, 286 IP, 11 K/BB, .351 opp. OPS

Along with Projected AL Cy Young Runner-up Bruce Chen, Buehrle is making 2014 the heyday of the aging lefty. Employing pinpoint control, Buehrle tore the Rays to pieces in his first start for the Blue Jays this season, and since we’re only using the first week of games to project the rest of the year, we can presume that Buehrle’s remarkable smoke-and-mirrors act will hold up for the rest of the 2014 campaign.

Excellence is an 82 mph fastball.

NL Cy Young: Jose Fernandez

Projected season stats: 33-0, 0.71 ERA, 281 K, 0.79 WHIP, 209 IP, 8.5 K/BB, .447 opp. OPS

Fernandez is so good, he even shows up at the top of fake fluke leaderboards. All joking aside, I’m only, like, 90 percent sure he won’t actually go 33-0 with a 0.71 ERA this year for the Marlins.

World Series Prediction

Detroit Tigers (130-32, +227 run differential) over Miami Marlins (116-46, +486 run differential) in five games 

Usually one team shoots out to a big lead a week into the season, but 2014 has been pretty even, all things considered. There are two exceptions: the Tigers, who are baseball’s only remaining one-loss team, and the Marlins, who only have a half-game lead over the Nationals and Braves, but whose plus-21 run differential is by far the best in baseball.

This World Series would feature superb pitching, pitting Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander (who occupy that second tier of AL pitching behind Buehrle and Chen) against Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi (who took the loss on Sunday after striking out eight, walking none, and giving up no runs through his first 6⅓ innings). It would feature Miguel Cabrera in a virtual home run derby against The Mighty Giancarlo Stanton, and, thanks to salary-dump trades that sent Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez from Miami to Detroit, the narratives would burst from this matchup’s insides like the title character in Alien. And of course this pairing would bring a delicious contrast in style between the perennially contending Tigers, with their conservative stadium and uniforms, and the young upstart Marlins, with their stadium and uniforms presumably coming courtesy of Nicolas Winding Refn on peyote.

Who wouldn’t be thrilled with this World Series? Sadly, we probably won’t get it. We’ll know more in a few weeks, by which time we’ll have adjusted to the sensory overload that comes with a new season, and returned to our boring senses.

Filed Under: MLB, MLB Predictions, Fun With Small Sample Sizes, MVP, Cy Young, Josh Hamilton, Chase Utley, Mark Buehrle, Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Michael Baumann

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Michael Baumann is a Grantland contributor and author of the upcoming book Philadelphia Phenoms: The Most Amazing Athletes to Play in the City of Brotherly Love, due in November 2014.

Archive @ mj_baumann