The top lefty in Major Leagues is a very debatable topic right now. Depending on what you are looking for, all four options have their strong points. But when it comes down to it, who has the edge? As the debates rage on, Cano or Pedroia, Beckett or Burnett, there is one that is missed in the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry quite often, Jon Lester or CC Sabathia? I have also decided to add the other two who I'd consider over the last 3 years and make a real debate out of it!
Lets look at the numbers:
Jon Lester (27): 44-21, 531 IP, 556 K, 3.30 ERA
CC Sabathia (31): 54-20, 628 IP, 536 K, 3.11 ERA
Cliff Lee (32): 35-29, 591.1 IP, 514 K, 3.17 ERA
David Price (25): 38-21, 479.1 IP, 427 K, 3.46 ERA
When we look at the basic statistics surrounding pitchers, we can see that all 4 are actually very close as far as the numbers are concerned. Sabathia seems to lead the pack by a bit over the last 3 years, but any of these starters add an asset to the game that only 4 teams are able to feature. Jon Lester is certainly another fair argument for the best lefty in baseball, as he is the only one with more than one K/IP and can really dominate a game in a way that no other pitcher on this list really can. Cliff Lee has been the model for perfection and could also be considered. No other lefty (and maybe no other pitcher) can put the ball exactly where he wants to the way that Cliff Lee can. If you are looking at pitchers from the perspective of what their future holds, perhaps no ceiling is higher then David Price's. The ability to touch triple digits had Rays fans and management alike, drooling over David Price and for good reason. The big lefty has put up numbers, even with his shortened 2009 season, that could easily be compared to any of these three.
If we take salary into account (as all teams do), dollars for definite production, there is no one better than Jon Lester. If you believe that an ace is worth upwards of $20 million a season and the money is there to spend, perhaps you would choose CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee. But right now in today's trade market, no one's trade value would be higher then David Price should he become available due to the teams control over him and his minimal paycheck. This is an argument that is not likely to be resolved very soon and could rage on all the way to potential Hall of Fame inductions for one or more of these great lefty arms.