With nods to Roy Oswalt, Tom Glavine, and Matt Morris, the National League Cy Young race has now become a two-man contest between Arizona teammates Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, the men that finished second and first, respectively, last year. Both have had outstanding seasons, but I think that Schilling's has been just a tad better. If the Cy Young were awarded for the 2002 season today, Schilling should win.
The statheads like to point out that Johnson has a lower ERA (Johnson is 1st in the NL while Schilling is 5th currently) and more strikeouts (Johnson is first by a grand total of 4) in fewer innings. They would also point out that while Schilling has three more wins, he has been helped a lot by his relieving corps (in Baseball Prospectus's top ten in this category), has gotten 6.19 runs per game to Johnson's 6.02, and is only .4 support-neutral wins ahead of Johnson according to BP. Johnson has allowed 10 fewer hits in 3.1 fewer innings which translates into 6.95 hits per game to Schilling's 7.27. These are all valid points, one's by which I would usually be convinced and one's that were convincing last year, but they are just part of the equation this year.
Schilling run average (i.e., runs divided by innings pitched times 9 innings) is 2.73 to Johnson's 2.90. Well, some of that is not within Johnson's control. True. How about WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched)? Schilling leads .904 to 1.060. This translates into 9.54 base runners per game for Johnson to 8.13 for Schilling. Schilling's ungodly strikeout-to-walk ratio (12.95) is nearly 3 times Johnson's (4.46). Schilling has also used fewer pitches in pitching his games, 14.2 per inning pitch to 15.7 for Johnson. His average game score, a dubious stat I will give you, is 1 point higher than Johnson's (66.6 to 65.6). While batters are hitting 5 points higher against Schilling (.218 to .213), Schilling's opponents' on-base percentage is 40 points lower (.238 to .278, first and third in the NL) and he is almost 20 points lower in opponents' slugging average (.342 to .359, 3rd and 11th in the NL). The result is that Schilling has the lowest opponents' OPS (on-base plus slugging) in the NL (.580, 25 points lower than #2 A. J. Burnett), while Johnson is fifth nearly 60 points behind (.638). Finally, comparing the somewhat esoteric statistics employed by Baseball Prospectus (Adjusted Pitcher Wins, Support-Neutral Value Added, and Support-Neutral Wins Above Replacement-Level), Schilling wins hands down.
Johnson has been great, but Schilling has been even better. In the AL, there is a similar race between teammates Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez, but Lowe seems to be a more salient choice. We'll have to see what happens down the stretch, if there is one.