Bits: Iwakuma fantasy MVP among pitchers 

September, 26, 2013
It’s tough to argue against Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer winning the AL Cy Young award. After all, he’s the one with the bright and shiny 21-3 record after Wednesday, when he struck out 10 over seven shutout innings against the lowly Minnesota Twins. Scherzer owns a 2.90 ERA, 240 strikeouts and his 0.97 WHIP is the best in the AL. The voters will flock to him for his record and the fact his team won its division, which frankly should be irrelevant to the conversation but isn’t.

Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma was also pretty good on Wednesday night. He tossed eight shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals, striking out nine and finishing his season with a 2.66 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 185 strikeouts. He was 14-6 and when fantasy owners needed him most he didn’t allow a run in his final three outings, and four of five. In addition, his 7.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was second among AL pitchers to Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale. Scherzer’s WAR is 6.7.

Hisashi Iwakuma
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesHisashi Iwakuma walked one fewer hitter in 2013 than he did in 2012, despite pitching 94 1/3 more innings.
Who was the better value? Hmmm, let’s see now, Scherzer was a ninth-round pick in ESPN average live drafts. Sale went in the seventh round. Felix Hernandez, who won the 2010 Cy Young award for the same Mariners with pretty similar numbers to Iwakuma, was a third-rounder. Iwakuma, in his second year in the U.S., went undrafted in most leagues, the 78th starting pitcher off the draft board, behind Tommy Hanson, Josh Beckett and Chris Carpenter, who never threw a pitch. That’s value. Big-time value.