Fox sports did an article on this year’s Cy Young Candidates, and there was one notable name missing in my mind: Our boy Carlos Martinez. Here are Carlos’ career stats. The stats show a player on the rise. He had a career-high 5.9 WAR last year, leading the team and making him the Most Valuable Cardinal (MVC) for 2016.
While it’s true his strikeout rate declined from 9.2 in 2015 to 8.0 in 2016, his hits per 9 innings also declined, from 8.4 to 7.8. He had the best WHIP of his career at 1.224.
There *was* a bit of BABIP drop, from .324 in 2015 to .287 in 2016. 2016 was only his 2nd full season, though, so it’s too early to tell if that BABIP was a little flukey or the new normal. The team has better defense this year, so his BABIP will be interesting to watch.
As far as the decline in strikeout rate goes, you have to remember that he pitched in a career-high 195 innings last year, so he probably faded down the stretch a little. (Looks at stats) actually, I’m wrong. His best rates came in July, August and September/October (8.7, 9.6 and 9.0, respectively). However, his best months may have been March/April and June, when he had his lowest K rates (6.4 and 6.0) as he had his best ERA’s and WHIP’s those months.
Back to the main question: Is he a Cy Young candidate? I think so, but I think the number of innings pitched will be a key factor. If he, say, approaches 215 to 230 innings while coming close to or exceeding the stats he had last year (a similar WHIP, same or better K/9, etc) he’ll become an obvious candidate. It’s not like he needs much more WAR for consideration. He had 5.9 WAR last year, remember? Well in 2012, Clayton Kershaw had 6.2 and was the runner-up.
I think the biggest thing holding Martinez back is something he has no control over: Recognition. Everybody knows who Kershaw is, but not everyone knows who Martinez is. Hopefully, with a good year and increased innings, Carlos Martinez will make everyone learn his name.
As always, thanks for reading.