Tag:Cy Young Award
Posted on: November 16, 2010 2:36 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 2:37 pm
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Halladay deserves this Cy -- and maybe more

You know what's surprising about Roy Halladay's Cy Young Award?

That it's only his second one.

Over the last five years, Halladay is 90-43 with a 2.96 ERA, with the most wins and most innings pitched of any big-league pitcher. His average season over that span -- not his best season, but his average season -- was 18-9, with 236 innings pitched and eight complete games.

He could have won the Cy Young in any of those years, and in fact finished in the top five in the voting in each of them. I'm not saying he deserved to win over CC Sabathia in 2007 or over Cliff Lee in 2008 or over Zack Greinke last year, but he had Cy Young-worthy seasons every year.

He had another one this year, one that was even a little better, one that included a perfect game and three other shutouts (not to mention a playoff no-hitter, which didn't figure in the Cy Young voting). By the end of the year, he was the obvious pick, which is why he was first on all 32 ballots (including mine).

It's no surprise that he won. No, I was a lot more surprised when I realized it was only the second time he won, and that it had been seven years since he won his other one, with the 2003 Blue Jays.

Halladay is never going to catch Roger Clemens, who holds the record with seven Cy Youngs, and that's fine. I don't imagine he's ever going to catch Randy Johnson, who won five of them, and that's fine, too.

But as good as Halladay has been over the last decade -- and you could easily argue that he's been the best pitcher in baseball over that span -- he deserves to be a multiple Cy Young winner.

And now he is.


Category: MLB
Posted on: September 19, 2010 7:36 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2010 7:47 pm
 

A reasoned, traditional argument for Felix

It feels impossible to have a reasoned argument about the American League Cy Young Award.

The new-age stat guys say you're a dinosaur if you even consider anyone but Felix Hernandez. The old-age win guys think you're nuts if you consider anyone who has basically been a .500 pitcher.

The first group no doubt noticed that Hernandez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning the other night against the Rangers (although knowing them, they were more impressed by his eight strikeouts) to improve his record to 12-11. The second group was more interested in seeing CC Sabathia record his 20th win the next night in Baltimore.

The second group will remind you that the idea of the game is to win. The first group insists just as loudly that wins are the least relevant statistic for starting pitchers.

The two sides can't talk to each other, because they don't even speak the same language. The first group swears by WAR; the second group might declare war on WAR, if it could even figure out what WAR is.

So here's my problem, an admittedly theoretical problem since I don't have an AL Cy Young vote this year:

I fit in more with the second group. I have nothing against many of the new stats, but I refuse to accept that wins don't matter. I've seen too many pitchers who pitch to their stats, who would rather have a six-inning, three-run quality start than a 6-5 complete-game win.

So I should be supporting CC for the Cy, right? And if not him, then maybe David Price.

Instead, with two weeks to go that could change my mind, I believe King Felix is the most deserving.

Does that mean that I've changed how I look at pitchers? Not really. Does it mean that I've accepted that wins are just a matter of luck? Not at all.

The only thing it means is that with all the evidence out there -- and with two weeks to go that could change things in what is a very close race -- I believe that Felix Hernandez has had a slightly better year than CC Sabathia or any other pitcher in the American League this year.

Not only that, but I believe that if anyone had an equivalent year to Felix back in 1991, when I first joined the Baseball Writers Association of America and could have had a Cy Young vote (don't remember whether I actually had one that year), I would have given him my vote.

Why? Here's why, without a single mention of WAR, FIP or ERA+:

-- Other than wins, he leads the league in all the traditional categories for starting pitchers. He's first in ERA, first in innings, first in strikeouts. The reason nobody won the Cy Young with a 12-11 record is that nobody ever had a season like this before. I checked. Using the excellent baseball-reference.com play finder, I searched for pitchers with 230 or more innings, 220 or more strikeouts, an ERA of 2.40 or lower and fewer than 14 wins. You know who came up? One guy. Felix. This year.

-- He's absolutely, 100 percent pitching to win. And his sad-sack team is absolutely, 100 percent not allowing him to win very often. The Mariners say Hernandez has had 13 starts where he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed one run or less, and five starts where he has at least eight shutout innings.

-- While he pitches in the weaker AL West, Hernandez has faced a tougher schedule than Sabathia or Price. Of Felix's 32 starts, 13 have come against probable playoff teams (and he's 7-5 with a 2.58 ERA in those seven games). Sabathia has made just six starts against playoff teams (he's 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA), and Price has made just seven (he's 2-2 with a 3.28 ERA). According to baseball-reference.com , Hernandez has made 17 starts against teams that are .500 or better (he's 9-6, 2.34), while Sabathia has made 13 (he's 6-2, 3.50) and Price has made 18 (10-5, 2.59).

-- As if it's not bad enough that he's saddled with one of the worst offenses in recent history, Hernandez hasn't even been helped by his bullpen. Despite all the innings he pitches, Hernandez has been the victim of three blown saves, plus another bullpen collapse so bad that it didn't count as a blown save because the lead was too big. Sabathia has also had three blown saves (and one other bullpen collapse) behind him, but he has been able to hand far more leads over to the bullpen. Factor in Felix's four complete-game wins, and that means he has turned 12 potential wins over to the bullpen; they've converted only eight of them (while CC's Yankee bullpen has converted 19 of 23).

So there you have it, an argument for Felix that doesn't ignore tradition, an argument that (hopefully) ignores all the noise and doesn't demand that you consider wins to be unimportant.


Posted on: August 30, 2010 10:52 pm
 

Eight runs later, Cahill's candidacy takes a hit

NEW YORK -- The year Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young Award with the Cardinals, he gave up eight runs in one game. And nine runs in another game.

Randy Johnson gave up nine runs in a game in 2001, and won the Cy Young.

So why is Trevor Cahill basically out of the Cy Young discussion after giving up eight runs to the Yankees on Monday night?

Simply because it was so hard for Cahill to get into the Cy Young discussion in the first place.

Cahill had plenty going against him, even when he was second in the American League in ERA, as he was before Monday's pounding. He's not a favorite of the stat guys, because he doesn't get many strikeouts (he ranked 44th in the AL going into Monday) and because they believe his .215 batting average on balls in play (into Monday) indicates that he's been "lucky."

I think it doesn't matter if you're lucky or unlucky, because the Cy Young is based on pitching success, not on predicting future success. It's about winning games and preventing runs, and Cahill, 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA before Monday, was doing a good job at both.

Since May 5, when he got his injury-delayed first win of the season, Cahill was tied with CC Sabathia for the most wins in the majors, with 14. He had a 1.63 ERA since the All-Star break and a 0.92 ERA in August, and he was averaging eight innings a start this month.

He was starting to look like a Cy Young candidate. And now he doesn't.

After one bad start?

Yes, even though Cliff Lee also had a recent start where he allowed eight runs (to Baltimore). Yes, even though Felix Hernandez has twice allowed seven earned runs this year.

Cahill couldn't afford this bad start, because despite making the All-Star team this year, he's a relative unknown ("He's young, and he plays for Oakland," teammate Mark Ellis explained).

He couldn't afford this bad start, because it helps feed the idea that Cahill's great stats have been helped by pitching in the hitting-poor AL West (although he doesn't get to pitch against the awful A's lineup).

Think of it this way: If you had a Cy Young vote and had to decide between Cahill and Hernandez, would it matter to you that in two starts against the Yankees, Cahill allowed 14 runs in 10 innings, while in three starts against New York, Hernandez allowed one run in 26 innings?

Maybe it wouldn't. Maybe Cahill won't allow another run the rest of the season, will go on to win the AL ERA crown and will convince us he deserves the Cy Young.

"He's been as good as anyone in the league," Ellis said.

He's had an outstanding season. Before Monday night, it was an outstanding season that brought him into the Cy Young debate.

Then he had his worst start of the year, one that led him to say, "I was just embarrassed to get hit around like that."

Someone then asked Cahill about the first-inning ball that ripped a hole in Ellis' glove at second base.

"Any time the other team is hitting balls breaking guys' gloves, that's not a good sign," Cahill said.

He's a good pitcher, and he seems like a good kid.

He's still having an outstanding season. Just not an outstanding Cy Young season.
Posted on: November 19, 2009 5:05 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2009 5:36 pm
 

A worthy winner -- or 3 worthy of winning

I would have voted for Chris Carpenter, but I can't say Tim Lincecum doesn't deserve the National League Cy Young Award.

I can say I can't believe two voters didn't even put Carpenter on the three-man ballot. Thirty of the 32 voters had the same three names, in some order (Carpenter, Lincecum and Adam Wainwright). Two had both Lincecum and Wainwright, but not Carpenter. One of those, ESPN.com's Keith Law, said that he turned in a ballot with Lincecum, Javier Vazquez and Wainwright, and called his pick of Lincecum a "no-brainer." The other non-Carpenter voter was Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus, who put Wainwright first, Lincecum second and Dan Haren third. Carroll wrote that he discounted Carpenter for the same reason.

Law and Carroll rely heavily on statistics, so I'm not surprised by their choices. Law said he discounted Carpenter because he threw fewer innings than the other two pitchers.

It's true, Lincecum led Carpenter in innings, 225 1/3 to 192 2/3, a difference that was entirely a result of Carpenter's early-season injury. Lincecum made four more starts, and both pitchers averaged about the same number of innings per start (6.9 for Carpenter, 7.0 for Lincecum). It's also true that while Carpenter's ERA was considerably lower (2.24 vs. 2.48), Lincecum led in Zack Greinke's favorite stat, FIP, or fielding-independent pitching (2.37 vs. 2.81).

Fine. If you want to take Lincecum over Carpenter, I understand. If you want to take Lincecum and Wainwright over Carpenter, I sort of understand.

If you want to leave Carpenter off the ballot completely, you've lost me.

Was Carpenter helped by the Cardinals' superior defense? Probably, but Lincecum was helped by pitching at AT&T Park, where his ERA (1.88) was significantly lower than his ERA on the road (3.21).

Carpenter was the league's dominant pitcher in the second half of the season, going 10-1 with a 2.06 ERA. And while the Cardinals were a much better offensive team than the Giants, Carpenter's run support was almost identical to Lincecum's (5.84 vs. 5.83).

The two voters who saw Lincecum the most, the voters from Nothern California, both put Carpenter first on their ballot.

But my point isn't that Lincecum isn't deserving. He is.

There were three deserving candidates in this race. Any of the three could have won.

Law and Carroll didn't necessarily cost Carpenter the Cy Young. Even if both had listed Carpenter third, Lincecum still would have had enough votes to win. But it is in interesting that they were the two voters that helped turn the race.

In the past, there would have been two voters (normally newspaper beat writers) from each National League city. As newspapers have gone out of business, stopped covering baseball or prohibited their writers from voting, there weren't enough qualified voters in some cities. The BBWAA, which gives out the awards, has given some of those votes to writers like Law and Carroll, and like Scott Miller and me. Scott had an NL Cy Young vote, and I had a National League MVP vote this year.

In interests of full disclosure, Scott's Cy Young ballot had Lincecum first, Carpenter second and Wainwright third.

You'll read in some places that the selections of Greinke and Lincecum as Cy Young winners are an indication that baseball writers are more reliant on new statistics, since neither one led his league in wins. To some extent, that may be true, but in this case, it's more a case of traditional baseball writers handing two votes to the guys who always preferrred the stats.




 
 
 
 
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