Unlikely Cy Young contenders

Nobody envisioned Shane McClanahan as a contender for the American League’s Cy Young Award.

McClanahan had a nice rookie season for the Tampa Bay Rays last year — 10-6, 3.43 ERA — but that’s all it was. Nice. He certainly didn’t establish himself as one of the league’s outstanding pitchers.

This year has been a different matter. McClanahan went 9-3 with an AL-leading 1.74 ERA in 2022’s first half, which ended on July 6. He was named to the league’s pitching staff for the All-Star Game.

Sandy Alcantara’s story varies a bit, though not by much. He debuted in 2017, so he’s been around longer than McClanahan, yet he was no more dominant for the Miami Marlins than his cross-state counterpart was for the Rays. Alcantara’s win-loss record through last season was 20-34.

His improvement this year has been dramatic, putting him in the mix for the NL’s Cy Young Award. Alcantara’s first-half record was virtually identical to McClanahan’s — 9-3, 1.82 ERA — and he, too, made the squad for the All-Star Game.

The two Florida pitchers are alike in another regard, too. They amassed the best base values in their respective leagues during the first 13 weeks of the 26-week season, a true measure of their overall effectiveness.

McClanahan posted a base value of minus-74, which means he surrendered 74 fewer bases than the typical big-league pitcher would have allowed under the same circumstances. That was the best first-half BV in either league, eight better than the American League runner-up, Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros, at minus-66.

Alcantara’s BV of minus-67 was the best in the National League through July 6. It was one base ahead of Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves at minus-66.

The first step in determining a pitcher’s BV is calculating his ratio of bases allowed per out, abbreviated as BPO. This is the process: (1) Count the number of bases a pitcher surrendered through hits, walks, hit batsmen, stolen bases, sacrifice hits, and sacrifice flies. (2) Count the number of outs the pitcher accumulated. (3) Divide the total of bases by the number of outs.

The typical big-league pitcher gave up .663 bases per out in the first half of 2022. McClanahan allowed 123 bases and secured 297 outs, giving him a microscopic BPO of .414, the best for any starting pitcher in the majors as of July 6.

BV is calculated by multiplying a given pitcher’s outs by the BPO for all pitchers. A typical pitcher in McClanahan’s circumstances would have surrendered 197 bases (297 outs multiplied by a .663 BPO). His actual total of 123 bases is 74 below the norm, so that’s his BV.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed the key difference between base values for hitters, which I posted last Tuesday, and today’s figures for pitchers. Batters strive for a strongly positive BV, while pitchers aim for the biggest negative number they can get.

Scroll down for several pitching breakdowns, starting with the 10 first-half leaders in base value in each league, followed by the pitchers with the worst BVs. The final two lists contain the best and worst BVs for each of the 30 clubs as of July 6.

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American League top 10

1. Shane McClanahan, Rays, -74 BV

2. Justin Verlander, Astros, -66

3. Framber Valdez, Astros, -46

4. Shohei Ohtani, Angels, -43

5. Alek Manoah, Blue Jays, -42

6. Clay Holmes, Yankees, -40

6. Martin Perez, Rangers, -40

8. J.P. Feyereisen, Rays, -38

9. Gerrit Cole, Yankees, -36

9. Nestor Cortes, Yankees, -36

National League top 10

1. Sandy Alcantara, Marlins, -67 BV

2. Max Fried, Braves, -66

3. Corbin Burnes, Brewers, -57

4. Tony Gonsolin, Dodgers, -53

5. Aaron Nola, Phillies, -48

6. Miles Mikolas, Cardinals, -44

7. Kyle Wright, Braves, -42

8. Joe Musgrove, Padres, -41

9. Max Scherzer, Mets, -38

9. Spencer Strider, Braves, -38

American League bottom 10

1. Bruce Zimmermann, Orioles, 49 BV

2. Kyle Bradish, Orioles, 41

2. Yusei Kikuchi, Blue Jays, 41

4. Carlos Hernandez, Royals, 37

5. Jose Berrios, Blue Jays, 34

5. Aaron Civale, Guardians, 34

5. Lucas Giolito, White Sox, 34

5. Taylor Hearn, Rangers, 34

5. Adam Oller, Athletics, 34

10. Kris Bubic, Royals, 32

National League bottom 10

1. Vladimir Gutierrez, Reds, 53 BV

2. Patrick Corbin, Nationals, 51

2. Elieser Hernandez, Marlins, 51

4. German Marquez, Rockies, 50

5. Joan Adon, Nationals, 41

5. Hunter Greene, Reds, 41

7. Antonio Senzatela, Rockies, 38

8. Bryse Wilson, Pirates, 35

9. Mike Minor, Reds, 34

10. Austin Gomber, Rockies, 33

American League team top and bottom

Angels — top BV: Shohei Ohtani, -43; bottom BV: Chase Silseth, 13

Astros — top BV: Justin Verlander, -66; bottom BV: Jose Urquidy, 19

Athletics — top BV: Frankie Montas, -34; bottom BV: Adam Oller, 34

Blue Jays — top BV: Alek Manoah, -42; bottom BV: Yusei Kikuchi, 41

Guardians — top BV: Emmanuel Clase, -32; bottom BV: Aaron Civale, 34

Mariners — top BV: Logan Gilbert, -29; bottom BV: Sergio Romo, 19

Orioles — top BV: Keegan Akin, -26; bottom BV: Bruce Zimmermann, 49

Rangers — top BV: Martin Perez, -40; bottom BV: Taylor Hearn, 34

Rays — top BV: Shane McClanahan, -74; bottom BV: Ryan Yarbrough, 22

Red Sox — top BV: John Schreiber, -30; bottom BV: Connor Seabold, 15

Royals — top BV: Scott Barlow, -8; bottom BV: Carlos Hernandez, 37

Tigers — top BV: Andrew Chafin, -17; bottom BV: Elvin Rodriguez, 31

Twins — top BV: Jhoan Duran, -21; bottom BV: Cole Sands, 19

White Sox — top BV: Dylan Cease, -18; bottom BV: Lucas Giolito, 34

Yankees — top BV: Clay Holmes, -40; bottom BV: Aroldis Chapman, 6

National League team top and bottom

Braves — top BV: Max Fried, -66; bottom BV: Ian Anderson, 19

Brewers — top BV: Corbin Burnes, -57; bottom BV: Jason Alexander, 20

Cardinals — top BV: Miles Mikolas, -44; bottom BV: Matthew Liberatore and T.J. McFarland, 19

Cubs — top BV: Scott Effross and David Robertson, -18; bottom BV: Alec Mills, 32

Diamondbacks — top BV: Joe Mantiply, -26; bottom BV: Madison Bumgarner, 24

Dodgers — top BV: Tony Gonsolin, -53; bottom BV: Michael Grove, 6

Giants — top BV: Logan Webb, -34; bottom BV: Anthony DeSclafani, 29

Marlins — top BV: Sandy Alcantara, -67; bottom BV: Elieser Hernandez, 51

Mets — top BV: Max Scherzer, -38; bottom BV: Thomas Szapucki, 22

Nationals — top BV: Carl Edwards Jr., -13; bottom BV: Patrick Corbin, 51

Padres — top BV: Joe Musgrove, -41; bottom BV: Dinelson Lamet, 14

Phillies — top BV: Aaron Nola, -48; bottom BV: Bailey Falter, 18

Pirates — top BV: Wil Crowe, -26; bottom BV: Bryse Wilson, 35

Reds — top BV: Connor Overton, -22; bottom BV: Vladimir Gutierrez, 53

Rockies — top BV: Tyler Kinley, -10; bottom BV: German Marquez, 50

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