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Friday, August 17, 2012

Sullivan: Felix Hernandez And The Cy Young: A Not-Impossibility

Wonderful, wonderful cat
You’ll laugh so much your slide rule will ache.

It didn’t feel like it over the first couple months, but Felix has put himself in position to possibly win the greatest single-season award a pitcher can receive. Right now he leads the American League in innings. He’s tied for fourth in ERA, he’s number one in FIP, and if you put any stock into FanGraphs’ pitcher WAR, he’s number two. Baseball-Reference’s pitcher WAR ranks him tied for sixth.

The top contenders would presumably be Felix, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and David Price. We talk about this now, of course, because Felix just threw a perfect game, which the other contenders have not. Felix has propelled himself into the discussion. Jered Weaver, though, did throw a no-hitter, in case you forgot, and in that no-hitter he walked one and hit another. Verlander hasn’t thrown a perfect game although I guess he landed Kate Upton anyway? Price hasn’t done anything historic but according to Baseball Prospectus he’s faced the third-toughest opponents of all regular AL pitchers so far. It’s weird that we don’t adjust for quality of competition when we unquestionably, absolutely should.

...So here’s the conclusion for right now: Felix Hernandez stands a chance of winning his second Cy Young Award. If everything stayed exactly the same, he’d be one of probably three or four strong candidates, but there’s more baseball to play and everything will not stay exactly the same. Felix could surge, Felix could sink, or any of the other guys could surge or sink instead or as well. If I had a vote and if I were voting right now, I’d cast a vote for Justin Verlander, and then I’d ask why I have a vote, and why I had to vote right now, something about this seems fishy. Felix is close, though. The Mariners are not within real striking distance of a playoff spot, but Felix is presently within striking distance of being the Cy Young front-runner. Perhaps he already is the Cy Young front-runner, thanks in part to Wednesday’s perfect game.

Repoz Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:22 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, mariners, sabermetrics

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   1. AROM Posted: August 17, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4210807)
It’s weird that we don’t adjust for quality of competition when we unquestionably, absolutely should.


BBref WAR does.
   2. AROM Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4210810)
Felix, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and David Price.


Those guys have been the best AL candidates for a few years now. Biggest difference from the last few years is that Sabathia is not part of the conversation, and with his multiple DL stints most likely won't be.
   3. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4210820)
Not to say he should win it, but Chris Sale (14-3, 2.60 ERA) should be in the conversation.
   4. Rants Mulliniks Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:10 PM (#4210823)
It would have to be Price if the season ended today, Verlander a close second.
   5. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM (#4210836)
I agree with $. Why is it poeple are quick to dscount hitting success in Colorado, but seem to gloss over a park that is playing to historically pitching biased results? We all got so smart when we understood that Dante Bichette and Vinnie Castilla were very much enhanced by their home parks. For pitchers, that doesn't count?
   6. Esoteric Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4210851)
If I had a vote and if I were voting right now, I’d cast a vote for Justin Verlander, and then I’d ask why I have a vote, and why I had to vote right now, something about this seems fishy.
Lines like this are why Jeff Sullivan remains my single favorite baseball WRITER on the internet. Nobody does this better.
   7. bfan Posted: August 17, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4210860)
If I had a vote and if I were voting right now, I’d cast a vote for Justin Verlander, and then I’d ask why I have a vote, and why I had to vote right now, something about this seems fishy.


This seems somewhat in the Woody Allen/Mitch Hedburg style of humor (which I give as an extreme compliment).
   8. catomi01 Posted: August 17, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4211023)
Kuroda's record isn't all that great, but he deserves to be in the discussion too (not at the front of it, but in the mix nonetheless).
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: August 17, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4211027)
It didn’t feel like it over the first couple months, but Felix has put himself in position to possibly win the greatest single-season award a pitcher can receive. Right now he leads the American League in innings. He’s tied for fourth in ERA, he’s number one in FIP, and if you put any stock into FanGraphs’ pitcher WAR, he’s number two. Baseball-Reference’s pitcher WAR ranks him tied for sixth.


It's funny he is listing stats that I would look at early(innings pitched) secondary(era) and not at all (fip/war) and yet he doesn't list the absolute first and most important stat and that is era+.....Why is that? I understand if it's particularly close you might want to dive deeper into the numbers, but all you need to know Verlander, era+ leader(ver 172, weaver 169, sale 166, price 158 and Felix 145), only 5 innings behind first for most innings pitched. Add in 2 more complete games than anyone else and I think he's the best choice. The discussion is really about who is second or third. I'm not sure if I had an old style ballot(3 names per) that I could find room for Felix.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: August 17, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4211032)
BBref WAR does.

I didn't know that. Does it adjust for handedness when measuring the toughness?
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: August 17, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4211043)
I didn't know that. Does it adjust for handedness when measuring the toughness?


I didn't know that either, but is it necessary to adjust for handedness when measuring the toughness? Isn't the purpose, just like park effects, to measure the value against, no matter the reasoning? If the Yankees are a .800 ops team, as a rule, they are going to be a tougher team, than say a .600 Mariners team. Does it matter if the pitcher facing them is hand advantage/penalized against them?
   12. Walt Davis Posted: August 17, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4211045)
Those guys have been the best AL candidates for a few years now

Well, Price has only been a legit candidate once before -- 2010 when he finished 2nd. In 2009 and 2011 he wasn't in the conversation nor did he deserve to be. Not that there's anything wrong with being in the conversation in "just" 2 of 4 seasons but he hasn't been a regular.

Just out of curiosity, going back to 2008 (3-man ballot, went to 5 in 2010):

2008 -- CC got 9 points, 1 first place vote for his NL stint. None of the others got any votes.
2009 -- Felix 2, Verlander 3, CC 4
2010 -- Felix 1, Price 2, CC 3, Weaver 5, Verlander 11 (1 vote)
2011 -- Verlander 1 (and MVP), Weaver 2, CC 4, no Felix or Price

Halladay, Lee, Lincecum and (with 2 good finishes in the last 4) Wainwright have been the other regulars.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: August 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4211049)
I didn't know that either, but is it necessary to adjust for handedness when measuring the toughness?

Good question. Value vs. quality debate would be at least part of it.
   14. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: August 17, 2012 at 08:24 PM (#4211112)

This seems somewhat in the Woody Allen/Mitch Hedburg style of humor (which I give as an extreme compliment).


I've never really seen any Woody Allen, but it reminds me of the Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie/Ben Elton/Richard Curtis group.
   15. God Posted: August 17, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4211129)
Kershaw is missing from the list in #12 only because of his mysterious failure to get votes in 2010.
   16. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 17, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4211134)
Why worry a silly little honor such as the Cy Young Award when they've renamed the county after you?
   17. Jim Wisinski Posted: August 18, 2012 at 01:12 AM (#4211204)
Weaver still has that shiny W-L record but his candidacy took a decent hit tonight; the Rays pasted him for 9 runs in three innings and his ERA jumped up half a run. I'd guess his ERA+ will be down to the 130s now.
   18. Repoz Posted: August 18, 2012 at 01:26 AM (#4211205)
Weaver still has that shiny W-L record but his candidacy took a decent hit tonight

And he fell from 1st to 5th in ERA. Rough night.

Wide open for Felix...unless too many wins hold him back.

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