AL Cy Young Watch: Final Edition

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AL Cy young award

Previous rankings:

  1. C.C. Sabathia, SP NY YANKEES
  2. Clay Buchholz, SP, BOSTON RED SOX
  3. C.J. Wilson, SP, TEXAS RANGERS
  4. Felix Hernandez, SP, SEATTLE MARINERS
  5. Trevor Cahill, SP, OAKLAND ATHLETICS

The ALCYW is sad that this is it’s last edition until what’s sure to be an equally thrilling 2011 MLB season, but the fact that it will be going into hibernation for six months only means that this installment will be extra special.

A 2010 season that was full of pitching perfection (Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay), near perfection (Armando Gallaraga), and practical perfection (no hitters by Ubaldo Jimenez, Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza), it’s only fitting that one of the games most coveted awards should go to a man that was far from perfect this year.

 The 2010 AL Cy Young is deserved by many, but for so many reasons, was only really earned by one.

WINNER:  Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners.  A man that ranked only 33rd in the AL in win percentage at .520, finding another blotch aside from that one on The King’s resume is nearly impossible. 

The AL leader in ERA and innings, 2nd in WHIP and strikeouts, and 3rd in complete games, Hernandez would be a slam dunk for this award on any other team.

But because of his 13-12 record and Seattle finishing last in the majors with 513 runs (74 fewer than any other team), there leaves some space for debate. 

Let me put that debate to rest, because fourth place on our last ALCYW was not nearly high enough.

Hernandez finished the year with 30 quality starts, three more than any pitcher in the majors this year, and is one of only seven pitchers to ever get to that number.  The other six?  They all won the Cy Young Award in their respective league. 

Hernandez finished the year with only one month with an ERA over 2.4, posting a 1.64 in September and a 0.82 in August.  That’s right, .82 and 1.64 in the last two months of a season in which he threw nearly 250 innings, and he still managed to go 6-4 in that span.  Four losses with those numbers is unprecedented, which is why I have to believe win-loss would be thrown out in this case. 

With the ridiculous 2.27 ERA, the 232 strikeouts, the seemingly superhuman consistency and workhorse-like numbers on such a bad team, the win-loss should not hurt King Felix, it should aid him.  The fact that he was able to finish with a winning record on a team that averaged just over three runs a game is remarkable. 

Take away Felix from the Mariners pitching staff and their combined starters record is 33-60, and that INCLUDES Cliff Lee’s 8-3 record in the first half of the year.

Of the starters that finished the year with the Mariners not named Felix Hernandez, their success looked something like this:

Ryan Rowland-Smith: 1-10

Doug Fister: 6-14

Jason Vargas: 9-12

David Pauley: 4-9

Luke French: 5-7

Ian Snell: 0-5

felix hernandez

That’s 25 wins still on the starting staff outside of Felix, how in the world did he get to 13?  Forget the strikeouts, the WHIP, and all the other stats backing Felix, that in itself deserves an award.

RUNNER UP:  DAVID PRICE, SP, Tampa Bay Rays.  The best pitcher on the best team in baseball deserves some recognition, but that isn’t the only reason he’s in this spot.

Price has earned all the accolades he had coming into the bigs in the 2008 season for the Rays, and even though he is still young (25) and inexperienced, he has put the Rays pitching staff on his back and is the anchor for this postseason run for Tampa.

His rapid decline in performance in August was quickly put behind him in September with three consecutive starts of one earned run or less, and a 1.67 ERA with a 4-0 record over the entire month.    

His 19 wins is tied for 2nd in the AL, his 188 K’s are eighth in the league, and his 2.72 ERA is third in the AL.

His consistency has been the most impressive part of Price’s game this year, as he has only allowed more than three runs three times this year, putting him at fourth in the AL with 25 quality starts.

But what ultimately got him this high on the list is his knack for winning, and quite honestly this spot could go to Price or C.C. Sabathia, but Price is first in the AL with a .760 winning percentage, and the fact that the Rays won the AL East got him that extra edge he needed to vault from off the board in last month’s rankings, to runner up to finish the year. 

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES:

CC SABATHIA, SP, NY YANKEES:  As I said, Sabathia could be, and certainly might finish as the runner up in this award and could even win if the voters value wins more than individual stats.  His 21 wins is the most in the AL and he was the Yankees horse, logging 237.2 innings, good for 2nd in the AL, but his WHIP (1.19) and ERA (3.18) are rather pedestrian.  The individual stats are ultimately what will leave Sabathia without hardware the day the Cy is announced. 

cc sabathia cy young

CLAY BUCHHOLZ, SP, BOSTON RED SOX:  Buchholz stats are quite impressive, with a 17-7 record and a 2.33 ERA, good for second in the AL.  Had Buchholz not missed nearly a month in the middle of the season with a knee injury, he could very well be the winner of this award.  But his lack of strikeouts and average September (2-2, 3.00 ERA) just couldn’t seal the deal this year.  But no worries, with a healthy season, he is a future winner of this award.

JERED WEAVER, SP, LAA ANGELS:  Give Felix Hernandez a strikeout, take a hundredth of a point off Weaver’s WHIP, and give Weaver three more quality starts and Hernandez and Weaver are the same pitcher.  That is aside from the ERA, in which Weaver posted a 3.01 to Hernandez’ 2.27.  Still, Weaver was a poor man’s Hernandez this year and that should garner him some votes, but considering how close they were in stats Weaver has no chance of winning the award.  All the same, Weaver was impressive, especially on an Angels team that completely underachieved this year. 

TREVOR CAHILL, SP, OAKLAND ATHLETICS:  He flew under the radar all year, but a solid season with a sub-three ERA, 18 wins, and a 1.11 WHIP have Cahill on the Cy radar.  His strikeout numbers aren’t good enough, but he had ten starts on the year of no earned runs and as with Buchholz, had Cahill not missed a month in the beginning of the season, he may have a legitimate shot. 

-Mike Gallagher

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Comments

  1. nice work, mike! one day i hope the twins will have a candidate on your list… great pitching is a joy to behold…

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