Unlike the National League, the American League Cy Young race is fairly competitive during the 2021 MLB season.
Several unexpected pitchers have established themselves as aces this year, and there is a very real chance that one of those dark-horse arms will win the award.
But the race is also comprised of your perennial threats—stars who always seem to be in the mix to win the award.
While some of those perennial threats deserve their seat at the table in this year’s Cy Young conversation, it feels like others are there on the basis of name alone.
It’s time to weed out which MLB pitchers deserve to be a part of the 2021 AL Cy Young discussion and which pitchers do not.
In this article, we’ve deemed who the two most overrated players are as it pertains to this year’s AL Cy Young race.
2. Shane Bieber – Cleveland Indians
Shane Bieber is having a very good 2021 MLB season, but it feels like he’s being thrown into the Cy Young conversation largely because of his track record.
Yes, he leads the league in strikeouts, but he has also thrown more innings and faced more batters than anyone else in the AL.
Strikeouts aside, Bieber’s results this season don’t blow you away.
He has a solid 3.28 ERA, a solid 3.09 FIP, and a solid 1.25 WHIP over 14 total starts, but those numbers are just that—solid.
Not elite, not overly impressive.
Bieber is certainly capable of flipping a switch and going on a ridiculous run (as we saw when he finished the COVID-shortened 2020 season with a 1.63 ERA), but we haven’t seen that side of him yet this year.
In fact, over his last six starts, Bieber has a 3.79 ERA.
Shane Bieber's final line today: 5 ER on 10 hits, 2 walks, 8 Ks, 107 pitches. Another example of Cleveland's ace grinding through an outing.
— Ryan Lewis (@ByRyanLewis) June 13, 2021
In that span, opponents have managed a .724 OPS against him, a number that is well above the league-average OPS in 2021.
He won the award last year, and there is no denying that he deserved it, but the same can’t be said for his 2021 season so far.
He is also nursing an injury now, further hurting his chances.
1. Gerrit Cole – New York Yankees
While Gerrit Cole certainly is worthy of being in the Cy Young discussion (and could very well end up winning it), it’s baffling that the righty is currently an odds-on favorite to win the award according to most sportsbooks.
Cole has an extremely solid 2.31 ERA through 14 starts this season.
He also has a 0.85 WHIP and has fanned 117 batters in 89.2 innings.
All of that said, there are a handful of pitchers in the AL who have been more dominant thus far.
Take Lance Lynn, for example.
He leads the AL in ERA with a minuscule 1.51 mark.
He also has a similar WHIP (0.93) to that of Cole, and beats Cole in the opponent batting average category (.179 for Lynn, .198 for Cole), and in the opponent OPS category (.538 for Lynn, .554 for Cole).
Lance Lynn, Overpowering 96mph Fastball…and Dismissal. 😀 pic.twitter.com/KuDO2bJnN4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 10, 2021
This is just one example, too.
Again, there is no denying that Cole belongs in the conversation, but the fact that he is such a big favorite to win the award doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.