Thursday, November 18, 2010

Felix Hernández 2010 AL Cy Young Winner

The news came down from the proverbial mountain of the Baseball Writers Association of America and after a big proud pat on the back of many of the Baseball writers, it was announced that Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernández with a 13-12 record is the 2010 American League Cy Young Award Winner. This is the lowest amount of wins a Cy Young starter has won the award with since the strike shortened season of 1981 when Fernando Valenzuela won the award with a 13-7 record.
Hernández is the second Seattle Mariners pitcher to win the award with Randy Johnson being the first in 1995. Though it was believed that the vote would be close between Hernández and New York Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia, this proved not to be so.

Hernández led the voting with 21 of 28 first-place votes for a total of 167 points (21-2-3-1-1). David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays who had a 19-6 record came in second with 4 first-place votes for a total of 111 points (4-15-7-1-0). C.C. Sabathia, with 21-7 record finished with 102 points (3-10-12-2-1). Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox with a 19-9 record finished with 33 points (0-0-1-9-12). Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with a 13-12 record finished the top five with 24 points (0-1-2-6-2).

The reason that I keep listing the records for the runner-ups is that a big issue was made for wins not being the paramount reason for Cy Young consideration. I keep reading about situations like 2005 when Bartolo Colón won the award with a 21-8 record and a 3.48 ERA over Johan Santana 16-7 record with a 2.87 ERA and the 1993 Cy Young race when Jack McDowell won the award with a 22-10 record and a 3.37 ERA over Kevin Appier who had a 18-8 record and a 2.56 ERA. I'm not going to go into those two races aside from just showing them as an illustration of years where wins and losses played a big part in the Cy Young race.

I personally feel that by writers and analysts saying that "wins don't count" are an insult to those pitchers who did win games. Price, Sabathia and Lester all won 19 or more games and let's be truthful, none of those players had any "gimmies". It wasn't as if those guys had wins come easy. Sure they had the potent offenses of the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox (respectively) but at least with Sabathia, I saw him grind out wins, often at times when he or the team didn't have it. Maybe if the writers said that Hernández won the award exclusively based on his performance then I'm OK with that. But for them to say that "wins don't count then I have issue with it. The wins count for Hall of Fame consideration, right? Then why not now. In past posts, I have stated where I stand in terms of this year's race and if you are so inclined, you can check them out here: October 6, 2010 and September 8, 2010.

So, just don't you nice people out there think I'm a sour Yankees fan I do believe that Hernández deserved and earned the Cy Young award here are some impressive stats that were posted by ESPN's Jayson Stark on his Twitter feed earlier today:

Here's a Cy Young stat to consider: Felix had 0.54 ERA in 4 starts vs #Yankees & #RedSox. Price had 3.61 vs them in 7 starts.

And another one:

Another Felix stat: Had a 2.26 ERA in 22 starts vs teams w winning records. Price 2.67 in 21 starts. CC had 3.32 ERA vs winning teams

Trust me, I saw those two games against the Yankees this season. He was flat out dominant.

Another small issue that I have with this year's vote is whether or not will be see a continuing trend in dismissing wins in the Cy Young voting. As seen with the voting for the 2009 Cy Young vote both winners had the then lowest amounts for starters to win the award: Tim Lincecum with 15 and Zack Greinke with 16. Will we see a starter win the Cy Young with less than 13 wins? Who knows, maybe next year will be the year.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for the official BBWAA webpage listing the results of the 2010 AL Cy Young Award
- Click Here for the list of past Cy Young Award winners since 1956

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