Toronto Blue Jays player Alec Manoah has enjoyed a stellar season, which has seen him be called an All-Star and attract national attention.
He has gone from being a young player to undoubtedly one of the best bowlers in the MLS. Manoah is among the leaders in several major promotion categories and is a nominee for the AL Cy Young Award, the shooter’s highest honor.
With only two rounds left in the season, time is running out for voters to make their decision, and most importantly, it is time for the men on the hill to make their final demands for the hardware. Here’s how Manoh faces some of his rivals.
Blue Jays: Manoah Mania
When assessing the state of Cy Young for any pitcher, a detailed look at the stats is a good place to start. Pitcher’s wins have become understated stats over the past decade and more, but they’re still under study and it’s worth noting that Justin Verlander, widely believed to be the award favourite, leads the league with 17 wins. Manoah is third with Dylan Cease, with 14.
Earned running average (ERA) is a huge stat for bowlers and Manoah’s 2.40 mark is the fourth-best in the AL, with just 0.04 behind Rays’ Shane McClanahan. He’s close enough that Manoah can lower his number if he does well and McClanahan falters a little. Verlander (1.78) and Cease (2.13) are two people, and they certainly wouldn’t get caught.
Durability is also a key factor and it may be where Manoah can make a strong case for himself. He is second in the MLS with 183.2 innings and has participated in 29 games. Manoah is just two frames behind rookie ace Framber Valdez for most rounds thrown, and no one has made more than 30 starts.
Verlander is clearly the frontrunner here, but will voters be hesitant because he made 30 fewer runs than Valdez and Manoah? McClanahan, who beat Manoah for the right to start the All-Star Game, then immediately fell flat on his face, in a similar situation with a 156.1-round record.
When it came to keeping the ball in the court, Valdes was the toughest, with only nine long balls allowed. Manoah is not far behind, finishing sixth with fellow candidate McClanahan and former winner Shane Pepper.
Like he did last season, Manoah leads the league in hitting batsmen, which doesn’t help his cause. He is among the top five in WHIP (1.01) and opponent average (.206), capping his strong nomination.
Blue Jays: Is Manoah the finalist for Cy Young?
Alec Manoah followed McClanahan at ASG and made an unforgettable clean run. He has always been near the top of the leaderboards in important categories. It will be tough for him to win Cy Young but finishing him as a finalist would be a nice feather in his hat and put him in line for a good raise when the time comes.
The beginnings that Verlander and McClanahan missed have already been mentioned but this may not be enough to dissuade voters from casting their ballots on them. Blake Snell and Corbin Burnes recently took home the award despite displaying less than the usual start-up workload on the front lines.
He stood second in the league in strikes, but also led in walks allowed. This may put some voters off. Gerrit Cole leads the league in kicks but also surrendered to 29 homers, second only to Jose Berrios.
At the heart of the Manoah case is more than numbers. In his first full season, the right-handed was the absolute workhorse and a stable presence in an often inconsistent rotation. It has gone from an interesting building block to the team’s indisputable core and futuristic cornerstone.
Whether he won the award or not, Manoh arrived and became one of the most dominant shooters ever. The prospect of him winning the award is exciting. Thinking about how his career will continue over the next decade or so is more than that.