I had a slight moment of panic this morning. Walking to the Waldorf lobby to wait for the owners’ meeting to break up, I realized I was going to be at the airport for this afternoon’s Cy Young conference call. No good if CC Sabathia were named the winner.
And a colleague had already assured me there was no chance the baseball writers were nuanced enough to give the award to anyone but Sabathia.
Ultimately, there was no need for me to be on the call. The writers got it right. The best pitcher in the American League won the Cy Young. Felix Hernandez barely finished with a better-than-.500 record, but he was more durable and dominant than anyone in the league. He just happened to pitch for one of the worst teams.
Sabathia was very good this season. So was David Price, and so were Jon Lester, Cliff Lee and Jered Weaver. Saying they weren’t Cy Young winners doesn’t take away from their seasons. Hernandez was just better, that’s all. He didn’t win many games, but he deserved to win more than he did. He deserved to win the Cy Young.
The result is being billed as a win for the sabermetrics community, and maybe it is, but it might also be a win for those who simply look more deeply into the same old stats we’re used to seeing.
From the BBWAA site: The Mariners’ run support for Hernandez was 2.4 per game. Seattle scored two or fewer runs in 15 of his starts. He was 2-10 with a 2.84 ERA in those games. In his nine no decisions, Hernandez pitched to a 1.92 ERA. Let’s not forget he also led the league in innings and ERA and finished second in strikeouts.
There are no advanced stats in that paragraph, but it does a good job of capturing Hernandez’s season and explaining why his small win total is fairly meaningless.
Maybe writers made their decisions based on a series of numbers they looked up on FanGraphs and BaseballProspectus. Or maybe they just took a more nuanced look at the stats we’re used to seeing.
UPDATE: After I got through airport security and could actually turn on my computer, I didn’t want to start a new post for the same bit of news, so I just topped this post with my thoughts on the Cy Young. Here’s the original AP story about the award. This has all the nuts and bolts about the top three finishers.
Felix Hernandez has been chosen the AL Cy Young Award winner.
The Seattle ace won by an easy margin in results released Thursday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. King Felix went just 13-12, but was a victim of poor run support all season. He led the majors with a 2.27 ERA, topped the AL in innings and was second in strikeouts. The 24-year-old righty from Venezuela drew 21 of the 28 first-place votes.
Tampa Bay’s David Price got four first-place votes after going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA. CC Sabathia, who led the league with 21 wins for the Yankees, drew the other three first-place votes and finished third.
The 13 wins by Hernandez marked the fewest for a Cy Young starter in a full season.