Chris Sale for Cy Young

Forget his record, Chris Sale has been the AL's best pitcher based on the stats that matter. Jason Miller/Getty Images

If the 2013 season ended today, Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer would almost certainly win the AL Cy Young Award. After all, he has a 19-3 record, a 3.01 ERA, and has been the most valuable starting pitcher on one of the best teams in baseball. Scherzer winning the Cy Young would hardly be some miscarriage of justice, but just to throw a hitch in the coronation, should he really be such a slam dunk?

If we look at advanced metrics, we'll see that Baseball Reference's WAR (bWAR) has Chris Sale leading the field at 7.2, a win-and-a-half better than the second-best pitcher, Anibal Sanchez at 5.7. FanGraphs' WAR (fWAR), on the other hand, has Scherzer edging out Felix Hernandez and Sanchez. In other words, the catch-all advanced metrics don't give us a clear answer, but a deeper look at the stats tells us why Sale should be the front-runner.