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If I Voted for the Cy Young Award

Going into the final week of the season, I began to think about the major season awards. I’m a member of the recently formed Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and each member blog will be opining our picks for awards like MVP and so on, so I’ve been thinking about this more than usual.

As of a week ago, my finalists for the AL Cy Young Award were CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, and Felix “The King” Hernandez.

In CC’s case, there was one thing which would have clinched my Yankee-centric vision of the world, which is if he won 20 games. There is a longstanding tradition regarding the specialness of the 20-game win season. I’m not one who believes that wins are a great measure of how good a pitcher is, since wins (and losses) depend so highly on the performance of other members of the team. However, I do believe that a certain amount of good fortune is always necessary to set one player’s season apart from his rivals. Call it the Mandate of Heaven, if you want…

Well, CC did not get 20 wins. In fact, he outright stank in his final start against the Rays, but the fact that the game would have only meant personal, rather than team, accomplishment, and that he eased off and just pitched an exhibition-like “tune up” makes me happy as a Yankees fan. I would much rather see the players strive for the team accomplishment of winning the World Series than watch them rack up individual awards.

That leaves me with Wonderboy Greinke and The King. Roy Halladay gets an honorable mention, here, and I’m using him as a standard measure against the other two. Ranked by baseball-reference.com‘s ERA+ (100*[lgERA/playerERA] adjusted to the player’s ballpark), we find the top three pitchers match in regular ERA, too, and are in the top four in WHIP (Sabathia was 3rd with 1.148).


ERA+   ERA    WHIP   Player
213    2.06    1.066   Greinke
174    2.48    1.151   Hernandez
157    2.79    1.126   Halladay

Ultimately, I give it to Greinke not just because he tops Hernandez in these numerical measures, but because he pitched well for an entire season despite the potentially demoralizing circumstance of pitching in Kansas City all year. The Royals are not a few players from contending. They are bottom-of-the-barrel awful. Greinke had eight no decisions this season. Dave Campbell on teh ESPN broadcast today said if you swapped his run support with CC Sabathia’s, Sabathia would have been 10-11 this year, and Greinke’s season would have looked a lot like Ron Guidry’s 1978, with a 24-3 record.

Plus, what a cute kid. You never know when a kid like that is going to flame out or hurt himself either (think Fidrych) so if it were up to me, I would be putting the Cy Young onto Zack Greinke’s mantelpiece this winter.

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