The THT writers have been discussing award predictions for 2004 recently, and Matthew Namee noted that one of our consensus picks was at risk: “The latest word on Prior is that he could be out for a month, which would just about kill his Cy Young chances.”
It’s a good thing Matthew used the qualifier “just about.” Because otherwise I’d have to bring up everybody’s favorite broadcaster and his 1984 NL Cy to demonstrate that precedent still gives Prior a shot.
I considered Prior’s injury while making my own picks; I think it brings him down from “overwhelming favorite” to “favorite”. It’s very likely that one of Wood or Beckett or Johnson or Schmidt or Oswalt or a darkhorse like Peavy or Morris or Zambrano has a big year and wins it. But I don’t think any of those guys individually has a better shot than Prior. Is the chance of Prior utterly dominating for 5 months really less than the chance of Wood maintaining his control for 30+ starts (or, similarly, Oswalt, Johnson and Schmidt their health)?