AL Cy Young Race Isn’t Really a Race

September 30th, 2010 by Johnny G | Filed under Baseball, General.

King Felix Reigns Supreme

I’ll admit I thought the entire fan base of baseball as a whole, had taken at least a couple of steps forward as far as throwing old, ridiculous myths and falsehoods out the window. Apparently, I was wrong. In reality, there should be no need for an article to discuss who should win the AL Cy Young award because this isn’t even close. If not for the people who still grasp at a pitcher’s record to judge how their season played out, this would be a unanimous vote. I really honestly have gotten to the point where I feel bad for people who will say “Felix Hernandez can’t win the Cy Young! He only has 13 wins!”. Oh, he only has 13 wins? So what?

I’m going to show you on the most basic levels why wins for a pitcher are meaningless and why Felix Hernandez should be your unanimous Cy Young winner.

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Lets first start by analyzing two different situations. Pitcher A goes 8 innings while allowing 1 earned run and striking out 10. Pitcher B goes 5 innings while allowing 4 earned runs and striking out 2. Pitcher A’s offense is shutout for the entire game and Pitcher B’s offense explodes for 10 runs. Well, Pitcher A gets tagged with the loss and pitcher B gets a gift wrapped win. This is the most basic level of why wins and losses are practically meaningless for a pitcher. For anyone who is still putting emphasis on wins and losses, I have a simple question for you. Do you still believe the earth is flat? Because that is the same type of logic we’re using here.

Pitchers go out to pitch and should be judged on only the parts of the game that they can control. Can they control their ERA? Sure. Can they control how many runs the offense puts up? No chance. Can they control if the bullpen holds a lead for them or not? No chance. With all those variables involved and all the odd rules it takes to be credited with a win, why would anyone, and I mean anyone, use wins as a way to judge the Cy Young award? The right answer is, anyone who is using wins in their evaluation should have their membership to the BBWA (Baseball Writers of America) revoked and they should be banned from voting on future awards. It is bad enough we have paid professionals (Joe Morgan, Skip Bayless), who are still living in the stone age when it comes to proper baseball evaluation, but we cannot have Baseball Writers with no knowledge of the game (Sam Donnellon, Bill Conlin), voting on the most prestigious individual awards the game has to offer.

Now we’ll move over to the case of Felix Hernandez. Felix has put up absolutely incredible numbers this year and his main challenger would be C.C. Sabathia. Felix pitches everyday in front of a lineup that is perhaps one of the worst we have ever seen. The Mariners consistently run Casey Kotchman out at first base with a .220 batting average and little power, Jack Wilson, Jose Lopez, Milton Bradley for most of the year, Chone Figgins, a numerous amount of punch-less catchers, and Ken Griffey Jr. at DH for a good portion of this season. The Seattle Mariners have put up the worst offensive season I have ever witnessed and they currently rank dead last in the MLB in Runs, Batting Average, Slugging Percentage, and On Base Percentage. They are also dead last in runs scored and scored their 506th run of the season just the other day.

C.C. Sabathia on the other hand has the privilege of playing in front of baseball’s best offensive lineup. The Bronx Bombers have scored 843 runs this season and are first in OBP, 7th in Batting Average, and 3rd in Slugging Percentage. More specifically to Sabthia’s case though, he has received 7.43 runs per game in run support, which is 6th most in the entire MLB. Felix Hernandez on the other hand, received just 3.75 runs per game, by far the worst in the MLB. I’ll ask you again, should Felix’s 13 wins really be the statistic that hinders his chances at the Cy Young award?
As far as the more traditional stats go, this is not even a contest.

Felix Hernandez- 2.27 ERA (Best in MLB) 232 strikeouts (Best in MLB) 1.06 WHIP (5th Best in the MLB) and 249.2 innings (2nd most in the MLB) and he has a record of 13-12.

CC Sabathia- 3.18 ERA (18th in MLB) 197 strikeouts (15th in MLB) 1.19 WHIP (25th in the MLB) and 237.2 innings pitched (3rd in the MLB) with a record of 21-7 (OMG 21 wins?!).

If you want to go deeper, we can. Felix has 6 complete games, CC has 2. Felix has 1 shutout, CC has none. Felix has 30 quality starts, CC has 26. Felix’s K/BB ratio is 3.31, CC’s is 2.66. Felix has 8 “Tough losses” (games where the pitcher received a loss while making a quality start), CC has 3.

I mean come on, guys. This is silly. It really is. Felix is the better pitcher, having a better season. Why wouldn’t he win this award? Especially in this area of Philadelphia where we have seen Cole Hamels get absolutely robbed of win after win because of a lack of run support. Lets try to evolve as people and use our brains instead of staying attached to the old and incorrect way of evaluating players. I really thought we were past the point where I had to write an article that contained content that was this elementary but apparently not.

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2 Responses to “AL Cy Young Race Isn’t Really a Race”

  1. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  2. Gary says:

    You forgot one final issue. CC Sabathia gets the chance to the Mariners 3-4 times a season to lower his ERA. Felix has put up his numbers against the best 13 teams in the AL. Imagine how low his ERA would be if he got to pitch to the Seattle line-up as well!