Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winless in Seattle, or: How I Learned to Stop Player-Hating and Love the BBWAA

Last season, Félix Hernández won the AL Cy Young award.  In 249.2 innings he struck out 232 with an ERA of 2.27 and a WHIP of 1.06.  And yet, his final win/loss record was 13-12.  His 2010 Seattle Mariners finished 61-101 (a .377 win percentage), which was enough to finish dead last in their division and dead last in the entire American League.

The year before, Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young with 242 strikeouts, a 2.16 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 229.1 innings.  His final win/loss record was 16-8 and his Kansas City Royals finished 65-97 (a .401 win percentage), last place in the AL Central and only one win better than Baltimore, the Junior Circuit's worst.

Can a pitcher on a last place team be the best pitcher in the league?  Certainly!  Should that player win a Cy Young award?  No way! 

In 22 years as a major league pitcher, Cy Young racked up 511 wins, far and away the most in MLB history.  Second on the list, Walter Johnson still trails Young by 94 wins--as many wins as Babe Ruth (the pitcher) had in his career.  Cy Young has more wins than Lou Gehrig has home runs--or Stan Musial, or Dave Winfield, or Willie Stargell, or Gary Sheffield.  If Joe DiMaggio's record 56 game hitting streak is unbreakable, Cy Young's career wins tally is certainly written in stone. One thing--and one thing only--should come to mind when anyone hears the name Cy Young--wins.

Until the award is renamed the "League's Best Pitcher Award," something just doesn't feel right about a Cy Young being handed out to a pitcher on a last place team, despite the incredible peripherals.


  1. MLB awards are so political. Todd Helton is going to play in his 2000 game today. His stats bear out his talent, and the 2000 bears out his endurance. How many times was he passed over for an award because he played for the Rockies? TOO MANY! Maybe Fantasy Leagues evolved to give individual players recognition that the political organization fails to honor.

  2. A few other stats about Mr. Young. He posted a 2.63 ERA with a WHIP of 1.13 over 7,356 innings also very good reasons to have an award named after you. Mr. Young also is the all time leader in losses with 316.