The 2021 NL Cy Young award is set to be announced on Wednesday, November 17th. Brewers ace Corbin Burnes is one of the three finalists. Here’s why Burnes should win the award.
The Milwaukee Brewers have not had the Cy Young winner since their World Series year in 1982 when Pete Vuckovich took home the trophy. Although the Brewers weren’t able to end their World Series drought this year, they can and should bring an end to the Cy Young drought.
Here are 3 reasons why Brewers ace Corbin Burnes should win the 2021 NL Cy Young Award.
1. Burnes Won the MLB ERA Title
Among all qualified pitchers this year, Corbin Burnes had the lowest ERA of any of them, winning the first ERA title in Brewers franchise history. Now, ERA is not the only stat that measures how good a pitcher is, and it’s an older, more traditional stat, but still one that is very important in how a pitcher’s success is measured, and Burnes clearly was the most successful in this category.
His 2.43 ERA was just a snapshot of how dominant he was all season long for the Brewers. Prior to his final start, in which he only went two innings as part of a plan for a final tune-up for the postseason, his ERA sat at a much lower 2.29.
The Cy Young goes to the best pitcher in each league, and especially by this measurement, the best pitcher was Corbin Burnes.
2. Burnes led MLB in fWAR
Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a relatively new stat that has emerged as a very important one when discussing a player’s success and value. Fangraphs has the most widely used calculation of WAR in the baseball world, and Fangraphs version is called fWAR.
WAR is a cumulative stat, meaning the more you play, and the more you play well, the better your WAR will be. Corbin Burnes had the highest fWAR of any pitcher in baseball this season with 7.5 wins above replacement.
Now, one of the main arguments against Burnes winning is that he didn’t pitch as many innings, finishing with just 167 IP. One of the other finalists for the award, Zack Wheeler, finished with 213.1 IP, a far greater number than Burnes, and that, some argue, should make Wheeler a better candidate. However, even with those extra 46.1 IP, Wheeler finished with just 7.3 fWAR. With WAR being a cumulative stat, if Wheeler was even equal to Burnes in terms of success, wouldn’t his WAR be higher?
It would be, but it’s not. You know why? Because Wheeler was not as good of a pitcher as Burnes was in 2021. If he was, Wheeler would have a much higher fWAR, and this would be an open-and-shut victory for Wheeler. But it’s not, because Wheeler simply wasn’t as good.
3. Burnes set records on records
Corbin Burnes set 45 MLB and Franchise records in 2021 with his performances. Now, the franchise records may not mean much since the Brewers don’t exactly have a stellar pitching history, but let’s focus on the 10 MLB records he set.
Burnes set the record for most strikeouts to begin a season with 58 before allowing his first walk, as a starter, and as a pitcher in general. He tied MLB records for most swinging strikes in a game and most consecutive strikeouts. He’s the first pitcher ever to have 30+ strikeouts and 0 total walks in his first three starts of a season.
Burnes is the first pitcher to ever have a streak of three straight games going 6+ IP and allowing two or fewer baserunners. He’s the first pitcher in MLB history have back-to-back starts of 6+ IP with no walks and one hit or less. He set the record for the most consecutive starts with 9+ Ks and 0 BBs by doing so in five straight outings. Burnes also set the record for most strikeouts in a 5 appearance span (49) with no walks allowed.
Also, Burnes is the first pitcher in MLB history to have 40+ strikeouts and no walks in any 4 appearance span. Even on the road, Burnes was dominant, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 100+ batters in road games without a loss in any of them. Finally, Burnes has the longest streak of starts with 9+ strikeouts, no walks, and 1 ER or less allowed in MLB history by doing so in four consecutive starts.
All those things that Burnes did this year have never been done by anyone in the history of the game of baseball. Not one single pitcher was able to accomplish a single one of those things in any season, let alone all of them in the same year!
All the stats, all the records, and everything points to Corbin Burnes being the best, most dominant pitcher in baseball this season. He deserves to win the Cy Young, and if he doesn’t it’ll be a massive miscarriage of justice.
Oh, and one final point, Corbin Burnes threw eight no-hit innings against the Indians in a combined no-hitter, while the other finalists, Wheeler and Max Scherzer, did not accomplish such a feat this season. No-hitters are also a great boost to any Cy Young candidacy.
The Cy Young is announced on November 17th, and the name on that trophy should be Corbin Burnes.