On Wednesday night, it was announced that Dylan Cease placed second in the American League Cy Young race.
Cease finished behind only Justin Verlander, who had a monster season for the World Series champions. Verlander got all 30 first place votes to accumulate the maximum amount of points (210), while Cease (97) edged out Alek Manoah (87) and Shohei Ohtani (82) as runner-up.
Dylan Cease's breakout season is marked by a second place finish in AL Cy Young voting pic.twitter.com/Au6JFwL5w0— James Fegan (@JRFegan) November 17, 2022
In 184 innings, Cease had a 2.20 ERA, a 2.70 xERA, and a 3.10 FIP. As a result of those great numbers, according to Baseball-Reference, he accumulated 6.4 WAR, while he was a 4.4-WAR pitcher on FanGraphs. Much of Cease’s success was a result of his ability to force weak contact. Only 8.4% of fly balls he allowed left the stadium, which was easily the lowest mark of his career. Cease also increased his ground ball rate from 33.3% in 2021 to 38.8% in 2022.
Cease pulled off one of the more impressive stretches of pitching in recent memory, and that lasted from May 29 through August 11 (14 starts). During that span, Cease allowed no more than one earned run in every start, and he lasted a minimum of 4 2⁄3 innings in all of those games. Overall, Cease had a 0.66 ERA during that span, and opposing hitters slashed only .172/.266/.252 against him. At that point, Cease essentially had pulled even with Verlander in Cy Young consideration.
Cease only allowed 6.2 hits per nine innings, which places him fourth on the all-time franchise leaderboard for a single season. Only 2020 Lucas Giolito (5.8), 1910 Ed Walsh (5.9), and 1967 Joe Horlen (6.1) allowed hits less frequently. The strikeout per nine inning stat was also historic, as Cease placed fifth with 11.1, behind himself in 2021 (12.3), 2020 Giolito (12.1), 2015 Chris Sale (11.8), and 2019 Giolito (11.6).
In terms of rWAR, Cease’s 6.4 is tied for 30th all-time for a single season, tied with John Danks in 2008 and Alex Fernandez in 1996. In this century, Cease’s mark is third-best over those 22 years, behind Esteban Loaiza’s 7.2 in 2003 and Sale’s 6.5 in 2013.
This season was a big step forward for Cease, who should be able to stick in the front of the White Sox rotation for the foreseeable future. Congratulations to him on finishing second place in AL Cy Young voting, as the votes he received were well-deserved.