Jordan Zimmermann has gotten a lot of well-deserved recognition after his incredible season, and he has continued to get better each year following his 2009 Tommy John surgery. Because of Zimmermann, and in the wake of a few uncharacteristic appearances early in the season, it seems that many have taken for granted what the team had in Stephen Strasburg, of all pitchers, in 2013. The thing is, if you look at the numbers, Strasburg was actually better than Zimmermann in almost every single category of consequence and falls among the best pitchers in the National League. To be clear, this isn't meant to detract from Zimmermann, just to remind of Strasburg's success this season.
In 30 starts, Strasburg posted an impressive 3.00 ERA, which is good for eighth-best in the NL. If you look at more advanced stats to try to gauge Strasburg's efficiency this season, he looks even better. He posted a 3.15 xFIP, seventh-best in the NL, and a 3.17 SIERA, for sixth-best. xFIP attempts to predict what a pitcher's ERA would be if he had average success on balls in play and only takes into account how many home runs the pitcher should have allowed, rather than how many they did allow. SIERA puts more focus on the importance and type of balls in play. It looks at pitching in an even more complex way in a statistics field that is looking to find more accurate ways to look at a pitcher's performance.
If all of that "advanced numbers stuff" is malarkey to you, I suggest that you open your mind to new ways to think about baseball. However, in more traditional statistics, Strasburg fairs equally well. He posted a 1.05 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), which is sixth-best in the NL. And if you like a good strikeout as much as I do, Strasburg doesn't let you down there, either. He averaged 9.39 strikeouts per nine innings, which was fourth, behind just AJ Burnett, Jose Fernandez, and Matt Harvey.
There are really two categories in which Strasburg didn't fair as well. One was innings pitched. He threw a very respectable 183 innings, and while it's really difficult to throw 200 innings in a season, it's something a team should come to expect of a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. Zimmermann, for example, threw 213.1 innings this season. That said, Stephen Strasburg did miss a bit of time on the disabled list, or surely he would have hit the 200 inning mark. He got far deeper into games this season than in any previous year, and he did it more often. He made it through seven or more innings 14 times in his 30 starts.
The other category, which I find far less relevant, is pitcher wins. Strasburg mustered just eight of those this season, compared to Zimmermann's 19. Meanwhile, Dan Haren had 10 wins this season, and I find it hard to believe that anyone would think that Haren was better than Strasburg because of this statistic. Pitcher wins have more to do with a team's offensive success than an individual's pitching accomplishment, and that's why the other stats listed here are far more important in determining Strasburg's, or any pitcher's, success. There are certain things a pitcher simply cannot control, and the potentcy of his offense is certainly among them.
For all of these reasons, when we see the results of the voting for NL Cy Young, I do believe that Stephen Strasburg should receive a couple of votes, even though he probably won't. If you're not familiar with the process, members of BBWAA can vote for up to five names in order of preference. I wouldn't expect Strasburg to get first, second, or even third place votes, considering the stellar competition in the NL this season by way of Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, and Craig Kimbrel, among others.
I do think that Strasburg should earn a fifth place vote or two, just to acknowledge an incredible season that has gone widely unacklowledged.