To maintain full disclosure, I do not have an American League Cy Young vote this season. The two Cy voters in the area are Larry Stone of the Seattle Times and Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald. I will be voting on AL rookie of the year.
But if I had a Cy Young vote, it would go this way …
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Jon Lester
3. C.C. Sabathia
I don’t care about wins. Perhaps it’s because I cover a team that doesn’t win that often. I think the game in Toronto last week best exemplifies the 2010 season of the Seattle Mariners and the 2010 season of Felix Hernandez. Felix pitched great, the Mariners offense was typically anemic and Felix suffers for it. I refuse to punish Felix for pitching for a team that will have one of the worst offense in the modern era. And how can you reward Sabathia for pitching for an offensive juggernaut? In Felix’s 12 losses, the Mariners have scored a total of seven runs while he was in the game. Seven runs!
But since I don’t get to vote, it’s pretty irrelevant of what I think. But what about the other voters?
Well, today on the Mitch and the Morning show, two of this year’s voters – Mel Antonen of USA Today and Eric Boland of Newsday offered their thoughts.
In this piece by Stone for the Times, he polls the other 28 AL Cy Voters – two from each AL City – on how they will vote. It’s very interesting with contrasting opinions – particularly on the subject of wins.
I fall in line with the likes of the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger – who replied to Stone’s query …
Pitcher wins are among baseball’s most misleading and in a lot of ways outdated stats, so they mean very little for my vote.
But not all voters believe that way … Many writers in the BBWAA still regard win-loss record as important.
Maybe there aren’t as many as in past - as evidenced by Zack Greinke (16-8) winning the Cy Young last year over Hernandez (19-5), Justin Verlander (19-9) and Sabathia (19-8) last year. And Tim Lincecum (15-7 ) winning the NL Cy Young award over Adam Wainwright (19-8) and Chris Carpenter (17-4) – but there are some.
I remember reading a tweet a few weeks back, discussing the age of this year Cy Young voters and remarking how many were under the age of 40 and how it was a bonus to Felix.
There is belief that the old guard of the BBWAA stubbornly refuses to embrace the statistical side of baseball, while younger writers like myself, Geoff Baker at the Times, Mellinger, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan and several others are more receptive to the sabermetric measures in baseball. To be sure, amongst the ranks of the BBWAA you can find older writers, who hate sabermetrics and all that they stand for. These guys also hate the internet, hate blogs, hate twitter and fear change on all levels. But guys like Stone, Joe Posnanski of SI and others are all over 40 and have come around to understanding the value of such measures.
Posnanski has become a saber machine … and he offered this ridiculously lengthy blog post comparing Felix and CC a few weeks ago.
As usual in such discussions, the issue is pitcher wins and what they mean. And, as I’ve written too many times here already, I think the meaning of pitcher victories mostly can be summed up with one wonderful word: Bubkis.
I’ve heard that Posnanski is also a voter on the Cy Young this year, so that bodes well for Felix. Posnanski also has this post up on the number of pitchers who led the league in ERA and strikeouts – which Felix does as of today – but did not win the Cy Young.
As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least learn about these newer measures and baseball thinking. What I’ve come to realize, they have significant value. And I refuse to allow myself to think only one way when it comes to baseball. There are far too many intricacies and situations and stats in baseball to be that myopic.
And basically it kind of mirrors the idea of this voting process. You should be open to every aspect of pitching success and all the ways to measure it. And to limit yourself to way the award has always been voted upon is ridiculous. So while wins have some value, so should innings pitched, strikeouts, complete games, RUN SUPPORT and WHIP, FIP, xFIP. If you don’t take these into consideration as well, then you aren’t doing your job as a voter. I’ve only been a BBWAA member for three years, but I take the idea of voting on these awards very seriously. I consider it privilege not a right.
I know some people have said that the reputation of the BBWAA is at stake on this vote. I think that’s a bit excessive. Remember this is just 28 voters out of 500 – a small sample size if you will. It certainly will be one of the most highly anticipated votes in some time. Would it surprise me if Felix won? No, I think he should. Would it surprise me if he finished second again? No. Because people’s interpretation of determining the award is going to vary widely.
- Last Start -- Picked up W#13 in his last start 9/28 at Texas…allowed 5 hits and 1 run in 8.0 innings…struck out 5 and walked 2…was his 3rd consecutive start to pitch 8.0 innings and his 13th start going 8.0+ IP while allowing 1 ER or fewer.
- The Trend — Over his last 10 starts (since 8/10) is 6-3 with a 0.96 ERA (8 ER, 75.1 IP)…has allowed 1 or fewer earned runs in 9 of his last 10 starts.
- Put Up a Zero -- Has thrown 209 scoreless “frames” (an inning in which he has appeared and not been charged with any runs)…that’s the most in the Majors this season and most since Randy Johnson posted 252 scoreless frames in 1999…Felix has allowed 1 or fewer runs in an inning in 236 of 256 innings in which he has appeared in (92.2%).
- ERA, K, IP Leader -- Currently leads the AL in ERA (2.27), innings (249.2) and strikeouts (232)…during the Cy Young era (since 1956), there have been only 10 times where a pitcher led the league in all 3 categories, and each time won the Cy Young (Randy Johnson – 1999 & 2002, Roger Clemens – 1991 & 1997), Sandy Koufax (1965 & 1966), Johan Santana – 2006, Mike Scott – 1986, Dwight Gooden – 1985, Steve Carlton – 1972).
- Falling ERA -- Has had his season ERA drop in 9 of his last 10 starts…had a 3.01 ERA on July 5, and posted a 1.49 ERA (20 ER, 121.0 IP) over his last 16 starts to lower his season mark to 2.27.
- Run Support — In 12 losses, has received 7 total runs of support (runs scored when he is in the game)…Mariners have scored 1 or fewer runs in 10 of 34 starts, and 2 or fewer runs 15 times…Mariners have not scored a run behind Felix in 7 of his last 14 starts…has the lowest run support average in the AL this season (3.10).
- Something For the Effort — In 21 starts in which he has not record a win (12 L, 9 ND), has compiled a 3.34 ERA (53 ER, 143.0 IP)…in 9 no-decisions has a 1.92 ERA (14 ER, 65.2 IP).
- AL Leaders – Among AL starters, ranks 1st in ERA (2.27), 1st in innings pitched (249.2), 1st in strikeouts (232), 1st in quality starts (30), 1st in opponents batting average (.212), T1st in starts (34), 3rd in complete games (6), T3rd in shutouts (1), 7th in K/BB ratio (3.31), 8th in K/9.0 IP (8.36) and T3rd in opponent GIDP (25).
- Sabermetrics — Among AL starters, ranks 1st in WAR for pitchers (6.0), 1st in +WPA (19.01), 1st in WPA (5.12), 1st in Adjusted Pitching Wins (4.7), 1st in opponent OPS (.585), 2nd in Adjusted ERA+ (174), 2nd in WHIP (1.06), 3rd in xFIP (3.27), 6th in FIP (3.06) and 7th in GB/FB ratio (1.81). Stats from Baseball-Reference.com & Fangraphs.com.
- Pretty Stingy — Leads the AL with 15 starts where he has allowed 1 or less runs in at least 7.0 innings…lasted at least 8.0 innings in 16 starts, including an AL leading 5 starts of 8.0 shutout innings…has 13 starts allowing 1 or fewer runs in 8.0 or more IP.
- Innings Eater — Leads the AL with 249.2 innings pitched…2nd-highest innings total by an American League pitcher over the last 12 seasons; Roy Halladay threw 266.0 innings for Toronto in 2003.
- Going Deep — Riding a single-season club record with 25 consecutive starts (May 23-current) pitching into at least the 7th inning…during the 25-start stretch, is 11-9, 1.78 ERA (38 ER, 192.2 IP) with 180 strikeouts.
- Making a Case -- Leads the AL in 2 of 3 pitching Triple Crown categories: Strikeouts (232) & ERA (2.27)…over the past 20 seasons there have been 13 pitchers who led their league in both ERA and strikeouts; 12 of them won the Cy Young…only exception was Pedro Martinez in 2002 (Barry Zito won).
- 30 Quality Starts — Leads the Majors with 30 quality starts, becoming first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2002 to record 30 quality starts in a season…since 1980, there have been 6 pitchers to record 30 QS in a season (Steve Carlton – 1980, Dwight Gooden – 1985, Mike Scott – 1986, Bret Saberhagen – 1989, Greg Maddux – 1992, Randy Johnson – 2002) and all won the Cy Young award that season.
- Against the Best — Went 5-1 with a 0.63 ERA (4 ER, 57.1 IP) in 7 starts against the AL East, including 3-0, 0.35 in 3 starts against the New York Yankees…threw a 2-hit shutout on June 30, becoming the first pitcher to throw a shutout at new Yankee Stadium…against teams in the playoff hunt (CIN, MIN, NYY, SD, TEX), has posted a 2.47 ERA (29 ER, 105.2 IP).
- Post All-Star Break — Posted a 1.53 ERA (19 ER, 112.0 IP) in 15 starts following the All-Star break…currently the T3rd-lowest by an AL starter post-ASG over the last 25 years: R. Clemens (0.97 in ’90), J. Santana (1.21 in ’04), D. Alexander (1.53 in ’87).
- Quality Starts — Recorded a quality start in 30 of 34 starts this season, setting a club record…had string of 17 consecutive quality starts snapped 9/11 at LAA…has recorded a quality start in 43 of last 47 starts, including club-record 18-QS streak Aug. 1, 2009-April 26, 2010.
- Better than Quality -- leads the Majors with 30 quality starts (6.0 or more IP, 3 or less ER)…but he also leads the Majors in “more than quality” starts… has recorded 25 starts of 7.0 or more IP, 3 or less ER and 16 starts of at least 8.0 innings and 3 or less ER…also leads the AL with 16 starts allowing only 1 ER in at least 7.0 innings
- Adding Them Together — Over last 2 seasons, has gone 32-17 with a 2.38 ERA (129 ER, 488.1 IP) and 449 strikeouts…leads the Majors with 59 quality starts (includes 28 starts of 7.0 or more innings, 3 or fewer ER) since the start of 2009…looking to become first pitcher since Rogers Clemens (2.43 in 2004-05) to post a sub 2.50 ERA over a 2-season stretch (min. 400.0 IP).
- 2009 — Finished 2nd in AL Cy Young award in 2009…went 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA (66 ER, 238.2 IP)…became just the 2nd pitcher in club history to post a season of 200.0 IP, 200 K’s, 15 W and sub 3.00 ERA (Randy Johnson, 1995 & 1997).