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Saturday, September 22, 2012

ESPN: Stark: Kimbrel should win NL Cy Young

Led Zeppelin was mixing at Electric Lady Studios when we bullshazted our way in. Should I get a writing credit for my impact on “Gallows Pole”?

Has any starting pitcher in the National League been even remotely as dominating as Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman? That answer, beyond dispute, is no. And this hasn’t been just routine domination. This has been historic levels of domination—particularly in the case of Kimbrel, who has had possibly the most dominant, overpowering season any NL closer has ever had.

So why should any voters feel compelled to vote for a starter in a season like this, just because there are 20 years of newfound tradition that say they should? I ran that question past one longtime dominating starter—ESPN’s own Curt Schilling—and he laughed at the idea that starters “deserve” to be considered first.

“I have ZERO bias one way or the other,” Schilling wrote, via the miracle of email. “Cy Young is for the BEST pitcher, not most valuable or anything else. When anyone in this game does something that hasn’t been done in 112 years [as Kimbrel has], it bears noticing. Relievers, in my opinion, HAVE to have insanely dominant seasons given that they throw 150+ fewer innings than a starter. [But] ‘tradition’ is something I feel we need to move farther and farther from.”

...Ready for Kimbrel’s historic credentials? Fasten your seat belts. (Note: To rank Kimbrel’s place in history, I compared him only to pitchers—starters or relievers—who worked at least 50 innings in a season.)

Strikeouts: 105 in 57 1/3 IP, the best strikeout ratio ever (16.5/9 IP)
Opponent AVG.: .128, the lowest against any pitcher since 1900
Opponent OPS: .368, the lowest against any pitcher in the expansion era
WHIP: 0.68, best by any National League reliever since 1900
Percentage of hitters struck out: 49.5 pct., best in live-ball era
Strikeout-to-hit ratio: 105 whiffs, 25 hits (4.2), best of all time

Repoz Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:28 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards

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   1. Brian White Posted: September 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4242891)
I wonder who finishes higher in the Cy Young voting, Craig Kimbrel or Kris Medlen.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4242894)
Really?

Kimbrel has 57.1 IP. Cueto has 203 with a 2.84 ERA. Dickey has 212 with a 2.67 ERA.

It's not even close. No GM in his right mind would trade one of those SP's seasons for Kimbrel season.
   3. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 22, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4242905)
Schilling wrote, via the miracle of email.


What is this, 1986?
   4. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4242908)
I wonder who finishes higher in the Cy Young voting, Craig Kimbrel or Kris Medlen.


I don't really pay much attention to the larger baseball-talk world these days, so I'll ask: do people outside of Atlanta know how good Kris Medlen has been as a starter?
   5. puck Posted: September 22, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4242920)
Of course Stark would be pushing Kimbrel, he's the #1 "let's marvel at numbers" guy.

Percentage of hitters struck out: 49.5 pct., best in live-ball era


Looks like Kimbrel has K'd 105 of 211 now.
   6. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 22, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4242925)
I believe I would vote

1. Dickey
2. Gonzalez
3. Kimbrel

   7. Monty Posted: September 22, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4242950)
Has any starting pitcher in the National League been even remotely as dominating as Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman? That answer, beyond dispute, is no.


Oh, well. No point in arguing, I guess.
   8. A triple short of the cycle Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4242956)
Note: To rank Kimbrel’s place in history, I compared him only to pitchers—starters or relievers—who worked at least 50 innings in a season.)


Why 50? Because Kimbrel has thrown barely 50 innings this season? Because we can probably find a guy who faced only one batter this season and struck that batter out and thus was more dominating on a rate basis this season than even Kimbrel?
   9. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4242958)
I wonder what it would look like if he picked 20 innings instead.
   10. Rough Carrigan Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4242959)
It's almost impossible for 57 innings to be as valuable as 220. Kimbrel would have to pitch so well that the official scorer deducted runs from the opposition's score in the previous game. If Kimbrel had been doing this not as a LaRussa style 9th inning only closer but as a 1970's style fireman, pitching 90-100 innings, I think I would agree that he deserves the Cy Young. But it's 57 innings. Hell Don freaking Drysdale gave up zero runs in almost that many innings in 68. So did Hershiser in 88.
   11. jacjacatk Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4242963)
The primary difference between Kimbrel's and Chapman's seasons has been when Chapman gave up his HR; Chapman has allowed 2 2R and one 3R vs Kimbrel's 3 solos. Given that Chapman also has 10 more IP (which is 18% more), it's arguable that he's still had the better season. There's no way Kimbrel is more deserving of the CY than any of the reasonable SP options. Maybe a 75-80 IP season in relief at his current rates would get in the discussion in a year like this with no obviously dominant SP performance.
   12. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4242967)
The Kimbrel for Cy campaign reminds me a little of the Andruw Jones for MVP campaign in 2005. Andruw hit 51 homers, many of them of the clutch or dramatic variety, and he very nearly won the award over the obviously superior Pujols. Andruw came closer than Kimbrel will, I suspect.

Obviously I like to see "my" guys win major awards. It's cool when guys you've been rooting for all season are recognized by a national audience. But even setting aside the fact that neither Kimbrel or Andruw deserved the awards they are and were being pimped for, there's something really uncomfortable about seeing players you like get this sort of treatment. You come on boards like these and read people pointing out all the flaws and weaknesses of great players. And if they actually win the awards they don't really deserve, that's what those seasons become: undeserving awards, not great seasons put up by great players.

So in a lot of ways it was a relief when Andruw came up short in 2005, because it let that season sort of fade from the national consciousness. I get to remember it as a wonderful, dramatic year, not as an Andre Dawson thing. The same thing will happen with Kimbrel this year. He won't win the Cy Young, and people will be free to simply marvel at the extraordinary season he put up instead of constantly reminding everyone that he won the Cy with 55 innings.
   13. Skloot Insurance Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4242971)
Kimbrel may very well win the NL Cy Young award for his saves total and crazy strikeout rate during the regular season, but ironically he'll be much more valuable in a playoff series, where every Braves victory has a much larger impact on the club's chances of winning the series.

Kimbrel is as awesome a one-inning reliever as we've seen, but what if we forget the 50% K-rate and frame the Cy Young debate this way: Would the Braves be better off in 2012 with Cueto or Dickey in the rotation and a league-average closer pitching the ninth inning? (Let's call that average closer Brett Myers or Steve Cishek, just because they rank 16th and 17th in the NL in saves.) B-Ref WAR indicates that Dickey has been 2 wins better than Kimbrel this season, while he's been a full 5 wins better than back-of-the-rotation Atlanta starters like Delgado, Hanson and Minor. Kimbrel has been about 2.5 wins better than Myers or Cishek according to B-Ref WAR.

This all suggests that the Braves would be 2.5 wins better in the standings with Dickey in the rotation (instead of Minor or Delgado) and Myers in the bullpen (instead of Kimbrel). Another 2-3 wins at this juncture and the Braves trail the Nationals by either 2-3 games in the NL East.

I could see a better case for Kimbrel if he had been used in a pattern similar to the 1970s fireman, where he frequently entered games in the 7th inning with the Braves tied or down by one. Raw saves totals in today's game aren't that impressive without knowing *how* they're accumulated, e.g. by retiring the 6-7-8 batters with a two-run lead in the ninth or by retiring the 3-4-5 batters with no outs and the tying run on third.

For frame of reference, Kimbel has registered a game-entering Leverage Index score of 1.8 in each of the past two seasons, according to B-Ref. Goose Goosage met or exceeded that gmLI every year from 1975 to 1987, and did so with an average of 101 innings and gmLI score of 2.2 for those 13 seasons.
   14. Sweatpants Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4242997)
I wonder what it would look like if he picked 20 innings instead.

K/9: Kimbrel still has the most, but it's his 2010 that wins (his 2012 finishes behind his 2010 and Kenley Jansen's 2011).
Opp. BA: A mere twelfth, although again he's behind his own 2010. Tops is Huston Street from this season at .094. Second is Matt Smith's 2006; I don't remember Smith at all.
Opp. OPS: Sixth, with Street's 2012 (.296) again coming out on top.
WHIP: Kimbrel's twelfth again. So how about that Huston Street? His .528 is again the best of all time.
K%: Kimbrel's 2012 is still the best.
K/H: Kimbrel's 2012 finishes second to Kimbrel's 2010. Huston Street is the only other one with 20 IP and more than four times as many strikeouts as hits.
   15. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: September 22, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4243001)
I actually think the stats in #14 are more impressive than comparing to 50+ innings.
   16. base ball chick Posted: September 22, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4243017)
sorry but chapman is not in any serioous kind of running. you give up a 3 run homer to matt nobody dominguez to lose to the ASTROS, well, no cy for you

i can't be convinced at anyone who pitches 50 innings, unless it is always against the meat of the order in a high leverage situarion, and has kimbrel's record, is more valuable that an ace starting pitcher.

i would vote for an ace starting pitcher who pitched 8 innings/game, threw 250 innings, had an ERA under 2.5 and got almost all of his outs by groundouts, not Ks, before i would vote for a 50 inning pitcher who got ALL of his outs by K.

out is out, and i don't care what it means for the future because it is only relevant for THIS year.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: September 22, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4243031)
Dickey gets a win today and Gio's about to get #20. I don't think Kimbrel will pose any real threat to the award.
   18. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4243097)
The Kimbrel for Cy campaign reminds me a little of the Andruw Jones for MVP campaign in 2005. Andruw hit 51 homers, many of them of the clutch or dramatic variety, and he very nearly won the award over the obviously superior Pujols. Andruw came closer than Kimbrel will, I suspect.

God, I hope so. Andruw played 160 games and provided premium defense in center. Kimbrel might pitch 60 innings. Andruw had an MVP type year, unfortunately for him Pujols was in his superhuman prime.
   19. Chris Fluit Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4243135)
Kimbrel is obviously having a great year but Stark is enamored with the shiny object of fluke numbers rather than evaluating the best performance- which is unfortunately typical for him. I'm not saying a reliever can never win the Cy Young but the line starts with Gonzalez, Dickey and Cueto this year, not Chapman or Kimbrel.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4243144)
I dunno, Stark has built a pretty nice career for himself, largely on the strength of being enamored with the shiny object of fluke numbers. Since I doubt that many voters will be swayed by columns like this, Stark's fixation on the flukey stats seems pretty harmless.
   21. Boileryard Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4243147)
Stark is enamored with the shiny object of fluke numbers rather than evaluating the best performance- which is unfortunately typical for him.

Agreed. His campaign for Shannon Stewart for MVP in 2003 was bizarre, but it managed to convince enough voters to land Stewart in 4th place that year.
   22. Colin Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4243172)
I am a Braves fan and I think Kimbrel is excellent, but no way I think he should win the CY. Still, his career numbers at this point are something to behold, so I'm glad he's at least getting some attention. 272 K's in 155 career IP, against 82 hits and 62 walks, with 6 HR allowed.

And the ludicrous thing is that that walk rate is plummeting, this year only 14 walks in his 57 IP - this from a guy who walked 51 guys in 71 innings between AAA and the majors in 2010.

   23. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 22, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4243173)
The Shannon Stewart argument was bizarre, but it was also fundamentally different than this Kimbrel argument. It was the old stand-by "the trade for X turned their season around" bromide, which the voters who listed Stewart on their ballots didn't need Stark's campaign to convince them of.
   24. alilisd Posted: September 22, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4243213)
@ 6 really? Over Kershaw and Cueto? I wouldn't vote for him over Medlen.
   25. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 22, 2012 at 06:32 PM (#4243216)
So how about that Huston Street? His .528 is again the best of all time.

I'm convinced, Huston Street for CY!
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: September 22, 2012 at 06:53 PM (#4243235)
Kimbrel is obviously having a great year but Stark is enamored with the shiny object of fluke numbers rather than evaluating the best performance- which is unfortunately typical for him. I'm not saying a reliever can never win the Cy Young but the line starts with Gonzalez, Dickey and Cueto this year, not Chapman or Kimbrel.


Forgot Lohse on that list. And I would probably remove Gonzalez and put Kershaw in his place.(The extra 20 innings pitched is a big deal)
   27. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 08:11 PM (#4243309)
Wow, Medlen's starting splits are .195/.223/.251 as a starter. That's silly.
   28. something like a train wreck Posted: September 22, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4243323)
In 1968 Gates Brown had an OPS+ of 238 in approx 100 AB as a high leverage PH for a World Series winner. It would be interesting to hear Stark's explanation as to why Brown should not have been the Offensive* MVP.(*Mclain won -- hence "Offensive" MVP)

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