Mariners Insider

Some rambling thoughts on Felix Hernandez, Cy Young voting and updated fun facts

Post by Ryan Divish on Sep. 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm with 7 Comments »
September 29, 2010 1:52 pm
AP photo

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Pitcher wins are among baseball’s most misleading and in a lot of ways outdated stats, so they mean very little for my vote.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).
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Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. Yeah, Divish, all well and good with your fancy-pants sabermetrics (whatever THAT means). But we all know the only truly meaningful stat is complete games.

  2. SharkHawk says:

    Amazingly good piece of writing Ryan. I’d nominate this for a “Sharky” if there were such an award. Maybe I’ll make it up. Congrats Ryan Divish on being named this year’s Sharky award winner for the best piece of baseball writing for the year. This is honestly better than anything I’ve read in ESPN the Magazine, SI, or any of the national mags. And to think….it was on a BLOG! Fascinating.

    As you say… times change and the rules and what we look at change. Those who don’t value blogs and the internet, are the same who don’t seem to value the truth about statistics in sports. Have you noticed that? The staunch old die hards who get angry at the mere mention of Felix winning a CY are the same ones who can’t accept the reality of today’s game. Felix has dominated this year in EVERY stat except for one… wins. The one he has almost no control over. Really… just think about it. You go out and throw up those numbers that Felix has on basically any other team in baseball, even mediocre teams, and you win 20+ easily.

    Some say, “Well, he has no pressure on him because he’s pitching for a bad team.” I say BULLCRAP. He has as much or more than anybody else, because every fifth day, it’s his job to try to prevent the team from losing yet again. He’s got to stop the streak. He’s the one guy that is EXPECTED to play great and still does. He’s still winning games. He is still dominating hitters. Look how he pitched against Texas and New York and then say that he isn’t facing any pressure.

    I say you nailed this one Ryan. Hit it right out of the park. If only the M’s offense was as strong as this article… we’d probably be up by 15 games in the division and Felix would be chasing Denny McLain for 30 wins (and I’m not exaggerating either).

    The worry now? At what point does he get grouchy about losing and realize that even going to a mid-major market like San Francisco or Cincinnati would result in a massive jump in the number of W’s on the stat sheet since that’s all that anybody cares about. If any voter wants to look me in the eye and HONESTLY tell me that CC is a better pitcher than Felix then I would love to have that little discussion. I’d love to look at their face and just laugh at their sheer idiocy. Much like the year that everybody’s favor-ite Seattle sports writer cost A-Rod his MVP season in Seattle and handed it to Juan-Gone due to his own stupidity and lack of rational reasoning.

  3. dave8557 says:

    I’m surprised Squidd thinks complete games are the only important stat. Wins are what counts. You can’t get them without staying in games longer. Especially for a bad team.

    With Groupthink’s “less is better” mentality, Felix could have a chance at the Cy, but others are doing better, or similar, win-wise and ERA wise – Bucholz, Lester, Price, and Sabathia. We all know Sabathia will win it. If he doesn’t, either Lester or Bucholz will win.

    And why start Felix on Sunday? Because he’s a professional. Professionals go to the post every 5th day. Then they rest for 4 days. After Sunday he can rest for almost 5 months. Just like people go to work five days (unless they are part time), and work in December, the last month of the year, baseball pitchers pitch every fifth day unless they are injured. If management will ask Felix, he’ll tell them exactly that.

    Fight for your rights Felix, and Fister, and Vargas, and Pauly and all the rest. You deserve to pitch as long as your are effective.

  4. nonstopjoe says:

    Keep in mind that Sabathia operates in a far tougher division than Hernandez. That’s the reason that he’s the odds-on favorite to win the Cy Young award. The PacNW writers are pitching Hernandez because there’s nothing else to talk about.

  5. footballscaa says:

    That’s fabulous. Alot of stats that will mean nothing to the east coast media with the most votes. Turn your top three upsidedown and theres your finish for the Cy Young. Maybe, just maybe enough voters will put Felix down for second that he squeezes out Lester. But not likely. And with this snub, Felix will have one more reason not to re-sign in Seattle. I can hardly blame him. I’d be cool if I was wrong.

  6. Just for the record I was being sarcastic with my stupid complete games comment.

    Shark is correct, nice piece by Divish, but it’s become so commonplace I almost forget to recognize him.

    Dave, I’ll just point out that your complete game heroes took the ball on three days rest, not four. I’m surprised you don’t argue for a return to the 4 man rotation. That would give managers another player to use off the bench. I agree with you that Felix should pitch Sunday, but not for the same reasons. Let him go five and have a chance to pick up another win. If the M’s are leading in bottom of the fifth, go to the ‘pen.

    Unlike the MVP award, the Cy Young award is purely about individual performance: who is the Best Pitcher. Wins count for something, but they are far down the list when measuring individual accomplishment. It is a voted-upon award for the simple fact that determining the Best Pitcher requires a variety of fluid measurements, the most pertinent of which are those over which the pitcher has the greatest control. Otherwise, just give it to the dude with the most wins, no stinkin’ vote required. Pitchers wins are about as valid as quarterback wins.

  7. SharkHawk says:

    Great post Squid! 100% agreement here.

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