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Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Baseball Primer’s 2002 AL Cy Young Award

Our picks.

This year, the Baseball Primer Cy Young Award voting was expanded to match the MVP voting procedure.  Each voter included ten pitchers on the ballot, and points were given based on the 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scheme the MVP award uses.  As a result, 25 pitchers were mentioned in the voting, instead of the five that we would have had under the traditional voting scheme.


The first place votes were split among three pitchers, with Pedro Mart?nez receiving just over half—enough to get him the award but not by a large margin.  To interpret the results, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each of the top candidates (those named on every ballot):

Pedro Mart?nez

Pedro was incredibly dominant this year.  He led the league in ERA (2.25) and strikeouts (239) by a wide margin, which was probably enough to get him the nod.  From a defense-independent standpoint, he was even further from the competition.  His strikeout rate was best in the league among full-time starters, and his walk rate was better than any of the other major candidates.  The only problem he had was only pitching 199-1/3 innings, but most voters felt that his phenomenal pitching made up for that fact.  To match Derek Lowe’s ERA in the number of innings Lowe pitched, Mart?nez would have needed to post a 5.75 ERA in his last 20-1/3 innings.  To match Zito, it would have taken a 6.00 ERA in 30 innings.

Derek Lowe

Lowe’s surprising season included a 2.57 ERA over 219-2/3 innings, despite the fact that he only struck out 129 batters.  He did it by walking only 48 batters and allowing only 12 home runs—low totals compared to other Cy Young candidates like Barry Zito (78 BB, 24 HR), Mark Buehrle (61 BB, 25 HR), and Tim Hudson (62 BB, 19 HR).  Lowe demonstrated that a pitcher can be very successful without striking out many batters if walks and home runs are also minimized.  While his edge over teammate Mart?nez in innings pitched earned him first place votes from some voters, more felt that Lowe belonged in second place, and that’s where he ended up.

Barry Zito

While Barry Zito was named on all 16 ballots, that’s where the unanimity ended for him.  He was placed as high as first and as low as sixth, and appeared in every spot in between.  A plurality put him in the number three spot, and that’s where he appears in the final tally.

Zito had strong showings in strikeouts, ERA, and innings pitched, and he led the league in wins.  However, he also gave up more walks and home runs than any other candidate who finished in the top six.  While Zito’s peripherals weren’t quite as good as the other candidates, it’s hard to argue with his results, especially considering that he faced competition that was a little tougher than AL East pitchers faced.

Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay had a fantastic season that went largely unnoticed.  He maintained a 2.93 ERA while leading the league in innings pitched with 293-1/3, and his peripherals were fantastic.  He only gave up ten home runs and he struck out 168 while walking 62.  Probably only Pedro’s true outcome stats were better.  That was enough to earn Halladay a fourth place finish in our voting.

Tim Hudson

There’s nothing Tim Hudson didn’t do well.  An ERA under three, 238-1/3 innings, 152 strikeouts, and good walk and home run rates.  A relatively unimpressive record of 15-9 probably kept him from being mentioned more as a candidate, but what really ended up costing him in our voting was that he wasn’t better than everyone else at anything.  Still, Hudson was an all-around great pitcher, and won the number five spot.

A few other good pitchers didn’t quite make every voter’s cut; Jarrod Washburn had a little higher ERA than the best candidates (3.14) and only pitched 206 innings, and Mark Buehrle had a 3.57 ERA and only struck out 134.

So Pedro Mart?nez wins Baseball Primer’s American League Cy Young Award in a close vote.

Here are our AL Cy Young picks:

Name             1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  Blts  Pts
Pedro Mart?nez   9   3   4   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   16   185
Derek Lowe       4   8   4   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   16   160
Barry Zito       3   3   6   2   1   1   0   0   0   0   16   142
Roy Halladay     0   2   1   5   5   3   0   0   0   0   16   106
Tim Hudson       0   0   0   4   7   2   1   2   0   0   16    90
Jarrod Washburn  0   0   1   5   0   2   5   1   1   0   15    78
Mark Buehrle     0   0   0   0   0   4   6   1   0   0   11    47
Jamie Moyer      0   0   0   0   1   3   1   3   1   1   10    37
Mark Mulder      0   0   0   0   1   0   3   4   1   0    9    32
Tim Wakefield    0   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   5   1    8    17
Joel Pi?eiro     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   3    5     7
Bartolo Colon    0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   1    2     7
Rodrigo L?pez    0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   3    4     5
Paul Byrd        0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   1    3     5
J.C. Romero      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   1   0    2     5
Troy Percival    0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0    1     5
Eddie Guardado   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   1    2     3
Mike Mussina     0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0    1     3
Jeff Weaver      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   0    1     3
Arthur Rhodes    0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0    1     2
Billy Koch       0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1    1     1
Ram?n Ortiz      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1    1     1
Mark Redman      0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1    1     1
Johan Santana    0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1    1     1
Ben Weber        0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   1    1     1
Dan 'The Boy' Werr Posted: October 08, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Greg Pope Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606600)
Halladay pitched 239 1/3 innings, not 293 1/3.
   2. scruff Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606601)

Individual awards are for the best individuals. Team awards go to the teams that make the playoffs. It's called a World Series ring, and a banner.

Players don't make the playoffs, teams do. Pedro shouldn't be penalized because his teammates aren't as good as Barry Zito's.
   3. Danny Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606602)
I don't understand how Mussina got on anyone's ballot or how anyone had Zito lower than third.
   4. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606603)
I don't understand... how anyone had Zito lower than third.

I didn't vote in this, but I had Zito lower than third; I left him off my IBA ballot.

Halladay is better than Zito in the DIPS-type analysis that I do, and pitched more innings. Zito was "hit lucky"; I would have had him fourth behind Pedro, Halladay, and Lowe.

By the way, I love the 10-man Cy ballot.
   5. Dan 'The Boy' Werr Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606604)
Well said, Scruff.

I'd add that one of our tied NL Managers of the Year was Jim Tracy, who didn't make the playoffs, and I'd be surprised if he didn't have a decent showing in the writers' vote.


I don't understand how Mussina got on anyone's ballot or how anyone had Zito lower than third.

I had Zito fourth, and didn't vote for Mussina, but I suspect the answer was DIPS. Zito's DIPS stats are relatively unspectacular, while Roy Halladay's are second in the league (I believe). I used the quick DIPS formula in my voting, which, while far from perfect, I figured offered a good approximation. It spit out these results (minimum 150 innings):
2.38 Pedro
3.20 Halladay
3.45 Clemens (Who got no votes but only pitched 180 innings)
3.48 Lowe
3.67 Weaver
3.73 Wakefield
3.76 Hudson
3.80 Mulder
3.80 Mussina
3.82 Lidle
3.85 Wells
3.86 Redman
3.93 Washburn
4.01 Zito

(Remember, these are quick and approximate with no adjustment for the park effect on home runs. I encourage Voros to correct anything I've got wrong.)

Basically, Zito gave up a lot of walks and home runs. Yankee pitchers typically were much better than they looked (not surprising, considering their defense). I took this into consideration, along with traditional stats, and decided that since Halladay led the league in innings and had an ERA not far out of line with the other top candidates, he was my second place choice. Lowe and Zito each dropped a spot accordingly.
   6. Scruff Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606605)
I gave Halladay the 3rd place vote, I had Pedro and Lowe ahead of him and Zito 4th.

Halladay pitched 10 more innings, but his ERA was 0.18 higher than Zito's. However, he pitched in a much better hitter's park, so I think it's pretty obvious he was a better pitcher this year. Halladay was closer to Lowe for 2nd than he was to Zito for 3rd. I just felt like Lowe was a hair ahead of Halladay, but the vote could have gone either way.
   7. Danny Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606608)
I guess I just don't think that DIPS should be used to evaluate Cy Young candidates. I think DIPS is an amazing predictive tool in that it shows a pitchers true skill better than ERA or counting statistics. But I also think that awards such as MVP and Cy Young are about performance this season rather than next season. A pitcher's job is to prevent runs, and if he does this by 27 groundouts to the shortstop or 27 strikeouts, it doesn't change his level of performance. Should we take bloop hits away from hitters because they are not indicative of skill? DIPS may (and does) prove that Pedro, Lowe, and Halladay were more skilled pitchers this season, but it does not show that they helped their teams win by preventing runs better than Zito did. All that said, I believe, based on SNWL and strength of schedule, that Zito was every bit as good as Pedro and that Hudson was closer to Halladay than Halladay was to the top 3.
   8. Dan 'The Boy' Werr Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606609)

DIPS is descriptive as well as predictive. Remember that there are three big factors that go into a pitcher's ERA: pitching, defense, and luck. Rather than using ERA as a description of how a pitcher did this year and DIPS ERA as a prediction of next year, I think of DIPS ERA as a description of what the pitcher did without as much extraneous luck and defense factored in. In other words, the pitcher who records 27 groundouts does so with the help of luck and his defense. It's not that it doesn't reflect his true skill, it's that it doesn't reflect his true value, because it has other value built in. In other words, I see DIPS as all about performance this season.

I think SNWL is very interesting, but I believe (and maybe I misunderstand it) it is also based on run-prevention (on a start by start basis). In my opinion, that doesn't get to the root of a pitcher's value.
   9. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606616)
If Zito was "hit lucky", then Lowe was "REALLY hit lucky".

Absolutely, he was. So much so that he moved down my Cy ballot from first to third on that basis.
   10. User unknown in local recipient table (Craig B) Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606617)
Oh yeah, I forgot the IBA ballot was five guys, not three. I went back to look at where I wrote down my votes... I had Zito fourth.
   11. Voros McCracken Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606619)
Andy H. wrote,

"I don't see how DIPS can move Pedro over Lowe when they played on the same team with the same defense."

The idea is that just as two pitchers can receive differing levels of offensive support in a season (Zito 6.8 runs a game, Hudson 4.8 runs a game), so too can they receive varying levels of defensive support.

Even by normal runs allowed metrics, Lowe isn't that much better than Martinez, and I think the extra strikeouts probably should tip the scales.

Dan had it right when he argued that DIPS is a performance metric. The idea is to remove the effects of defense on a pitchers stats. You can argue that there are better ways to do this than DIPS, which is fine. But I will disagree with someone who says defense shouldn't be accounted for at all.
   12. Dan 'The Boy' Werr Posted: October 08, 2002 at 12:53 AM (#606624)
I would by wary of voting for cy young on DIPS alone.

I agree, Jonathan, and that's why I put Zito 4th. However, I'd be even more wary of disregarding DIPS entirely. Based on the standard numbers, and especially if you park adjust, you can make a pretty good case that Halladay was about as good as Zito anyway. That he was so much better in DIPS gave me plenty of reason to put him higher up.

Silas, Lowe was very "hit lucky," but according to DIPS, he was better than Zito even if you take that into account. Here are the batting averages allowed on balls in play by a few select pitchers (these don't include sacrifice hits or flies):
.238 Lowe
.251 Zito
.276 Pedro
.290 Halladay
.295 Mussina
.298 Hudson

Just for fun (and this is really just for fun) I gave each of these guys the right amount of hits allowed to give them each a .270 BABIP allowed (adjusting doubles and triples proportionately) and then looked at their OPS allowed (again, with no SF or SH). Here's what they look like:
.194/.251/.303/.554 Pedro
.228/.282/.313/.595 Halladay
.238/.292/.334/.625 Lowe
.239/.294/.359/.653 Hudson
.232/.304/.356/.661 Zito
.235/.281/.391/.672 Mussina
   13. MattB Posted: October 15, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606771)
2002 Win Shares calculations are complete, and Bill James sides with the Zito crowd.

Barry Zito, Oak 25.2
Tim Hudson, Oak 22.7
Derek Lowe, Bos 21.8
Roy Halladay, Tor 21.0
Pedro Martinez, Bos 20.5
Billy Koch, Oak 18.6
Mark Mulder, Oak 18.5
Paul Byrd, KC 18.2
Jarrod Washburn, Ana 17.6
Mark Buehrle, CWS 16.7

   14. Voros McCracken Posted: October 16, 2002 at 12:56 AM (#606787)
Jim Rice,

Actually Lowe had an abnormally high rate the year previous year, which was one of the factors of the "what's wrong with Lowe" talk last year. There's no reason to think Lowe is an exception at this point.

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