Should Julio Urías Win 2022 NL Cy Young Award?

Julio Urías was named among the finalists for the 2022 National League Cy Young Award, along with Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcántara and the Atlanta Braves’ Max Fried.

Entering the 2022 season, none of them were expected to be Cy Young finalists in a league that includes the likes of Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, Zack Wheeler and more elite pitchers, but all three of the finalists proved themselves worthy of the honor.

Of the three, Urías was the only one to not be recognized with an All-Star Game selection, but that had more to do with the Dodgers having so many deserving players, which also included Will Smith and Evan Phillips being snubbed from the NL roster.

But despite the All-Star Game snub, Urías proved himself as one of MLB’s top pitchers, and he continued that into the postseason. However, award voting is done prior to the playoffs, so the postseason performance of Urías and Fried will not factor into the decision.

The winner of the award will be announced on Wednesday, November 16, live on MLB Network at 3 p.m. PT.

Why Julio Urías should win the Cy Young Award

Urías should win the 2022 NL Cy Young Award because he was the most effective pitcher in the league at preventing runs from scoring. His 2.16 ERA was the top in the NL, 0.12 points lower than Alcántara and 0.32 points lower than Fried.

In addition, Urías had the lowest batting average against of the group at .199 and lowest WHIP at 0.96. Hitters batted .212 against Alcántara and 0.98 reached per inning, while they batted .225 against Fried and he allowed 1.01 to reach per inning.

If the pitcher who prevents hits and runs at the lowest rate isn’t considered the most successful that season, then we must re-evaluate what the role of a pitcher actually is. It’s also not like Urías did this in 20 starts. He took the ball 31 times and pitched 175 innings.

Urías also had the highest strikeouts per nine of the finalists at 8.54 compared to Alcántara’s 8.15 and Fried’s 8.26. He had the highest walk rate, but it was still an elite mark at 2.11 per nine compared to 1.97 per nine for Alcántara and 1.55 for Fried.

Although wins don’t tell much for how well a pitcher performed, Urías still finished second in the NL with 17, meaning he more often than not pitched well enough to give his team a chance to win.

Urías also did this while taking on the pressure of pitching for a team with high expectations in a pennant race and becoming the staff ace when Buehler was lost to Tommy John surgery and Clayton Kershaw missed time due to injury as well.

The Dodgers’ southpaw did have the highest FIP of the three finalists at 3.71, but using predictive stats to determine awards rather than stats based on what actually happened doesn’t make much sense. The award is for who the best pitcher was, not who the best pitcher should have been.

None of the finalists were better at preventing runs, limiting hits or striking hitters out, which is why Urías should take home his first Cy Young award.

Why Julio Urías should not win the Cy Young Award

Although Urías has a strong case to win the Cy Young Award and probably would be the favorite in most years, the award has been all but locked up by Alcántara for quite some time.

The right-hander finished with an MLB-best six complete games while posting his impressive ERA. Alcántara logged at least eight innings in 14 of 32 starts, which is the most by any pitcher since Chris Sale did so in 13 outings during the 2016 season.

That led to Alcántara finishing the season with 228.2 innings pitched, 23.2 more than Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola, who was second. Despite only making one more start than Urías and two more than Fried, he threw 53.2 more innings than the former and 39.2 more than the latter.

Sure, his ERA and WHIP was slightly higher than Urías’, and his strikeout rate was slightly lower, but his 2.99 FIP was significantly better, and the slight difference in those stats is more than made up for by throwing significantly more innings.

Those extra innings pitched are why Alcántara had the highest fWAR of the group at 5.7 while Fried was at 5.0 and Urías at just 3.2, which is due to his less-than-stellar peripheral stats and fewer innings. By bWAR, Alcántara blew both out of the water, coming in at 8.0, compared to 5.9 for Fried and 4.9 for Urías.

Alcántara produced the most value out of all the pitchers due to his sheer workload while still posting elite stats, which makes him the NL’s top pitcher.

He was already voted as the winner of the 2022 Players Choice National League Outstanding Pitcher Award over Urías and Zac Gallen of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Alcántara is almost a guarantee to add another credential to his resume on Wednesday.

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