Zack Wheeler did not win the NL Cy Young Award. He finished second to Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes.
There are a variety of takes out there making the case that Wheeler was the better choice, and this is one of them:
Zack Wheeler threw 27% more innings with an ERA only 12% worse than Corbin Burnes.
Wheeler: 2.73 ERA 213.1 IP
Burnes: 2.43 ERA 167 IP
I’m glad Wins don’t matter anymore for the Cy Young award, but I feel we’ve gone too far.
IP & ERA >>> Under-The-Hood stats for the CY IMO
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) November 18, 2021
You could make the counter argument that Wheeler lost the Cy Young when he went 3-3 during that late rough stretch. That was August, when he logged a 4.81 ERA. There was a tough outing against Tampa, then losses in Arizona and at home to the Reds. He got it turned around in September and gave up just five runs in five starts, but I guess that wasn’t enough.
Here’s what the final vote looked like:
Pretty close. They both got the same number of first place votes. (edit – I didn’t even see that 5th place vote for Wheeler; that guy should be in jail)
Well, Burnes played for the better team. Milwaukee finished 95-67 this season to win the Central while the Phillies barely got themselves above .500. Wheeler didn’t exactly have a stout defensive fielding team behind him. And Burnes was part of a beefy rotation, as Phillies podcaster John Stolnis notes:
“Zack Wheeler lost the Cy Young because he pitched more innings than the winner, who was protected in a 6-man rotation and rarely faced hitters a 3rd time through the lineup.”
Hard to argue with that.
A couple of other points:
Zack Wheeler got 139 more outs this season than Corbin Burnes.
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) November 18, 2021
Cy Young tonight. All 3 in NL have a case but if workload matters, Zack Wheeler deserving.
46.1 more IP than Burnes, 34 more than Scherzer. Equivalent of 7-8 more starts than Burnes & 5-6 more than Scherzer. Would Burnes’ rate stats be this pristine if pushed 46 more innings?
— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) November 17, 2021
As a sidebar addition here, I think Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler probably deserved more votes. Their totals seem a little low. And it’s worth pointing out that there was no clear-cut favorite going into the NL vote. This wasn’t like the AL, where Robbie Ray won it pretty easily.
Regardless, Wheeler had himself a fantastic year coming off the summer procedure to get that fingernail taken care of. He pitched 213 innings over 32 starts. Finished with a 2.73 ERA. Three complete games. 247 strike outs. Bummer he didn’t win the Cy Young, but that’s how it goes.