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Felix wins Cy Young; Wins lose

November 18, 2010

Never before has a pitcher with as few wins (13) as Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young award in either league.

Usually, the Cy Young award is reserved for the best pitcher in each league…who has the most wins. The trend was finally broken last year when Tim Lincecum (15 wins) and Zack Greinke (16) both won their respective league’s Cy award over other pitchers who had better win totals. But neither of those win margins between the top pitchers was as large as this year, when Hernandez’s 13 wins were six and eight fewer than second- and third-place finishers David Price’s 19 and CC Sabathia’s 21.

I’m honestly surprised that Felix took 21 of the 27 possible first-place votes. Even though Greinke and Lincecum bucked the win-trend last year, Felix’s 13-12 record was barely over .500 while CC and Price both pitched for playoff teams. However, if the voting is based on who the best pitcher in the American League was, the decision is clear, and the voters surprisingly got it right. Giving the 2010 AL Cy Young to CC Sabathia would’ve equaled giving the 2009 Academy Award for Best Picture to Avatar.

Hernandez led the AL in innings pitched (249.2); gave up 15 fewer hits than Sabathia while pitching 12 more innings; walked four fewer batters than Sabathia and nine fewer than Price, even though Price pitched 41 fewer innings; finished second in strikeouts, one behind Jered Weaver, and 35 and 44 more than Sabathia and Price, respectively; dominated Sabathia and Price in WHIP (1.06 to 1.19); and had an ERA almost a half run better than Price (2.27 to 2.72) and almost a whole run better than Sabathia (3.18).

Felix also had six complete games, two more than Sabathia and Price combined! Hernandez’s 30 quality starts were three more than Sabathia and four more than Price. Hernandez’s 30 quality starts were also the most in the American League in the past 21 years. Also, according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Felix pitched 209 innings this year in which he didn’t give up a run, the most by an AL pitcher in the past 11 years.

I looked at the ESPN article on Hernandez winning the Cy Young and saw there were tons of comments on the article. I wanted to look at them but knew if I did I’d go crazy reading all the Yankee homers hating on Felix and saying CC should win just because his win total was better.

I’ve also heard some mainstream media types say CC deserved the award because he was pitching for a team that was in the playoff race in September and was under a lot more pressure than what Felix was. That might be true, but CC’s 3.35 September ERA was his second-worst ERA in any month of the season. And just for the record, Felix’s ERA in September was 1.64 and his WHIP was .81, even though he pitched against the Texas Rangers twice and the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s two top-nine run-scoring teams he faced three times in September.

Sabathia’s stats were inflated because he got to face Seattle – the worst offensive team in the last three decades – three times. His stats: 3-0, .86 ERA, .81 WHIP, .189 BAA. While CC was facing the Mariners’ putrid offense, Felix had to face the Yankees’ No. 1 offense three times. He surely couldn’t match CC’s numbers against the Mariners, right? Wrong. Felix’s stats: 3-0, two complete games, one shutout, only one earned run in 26 innings, .35 ERA, .92 WHIP, .176 BAA.

Felix was undeniably the best pitcher in the American League this year. I’m glad the Cy Young voters realized this…and that win totals are more overrated than Harry Potter movies.

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From → Odds & Ends

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