Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The AL Cy Young Debate and How I picked a fight with an ESPN analyst

"King" Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, Trevor Cahill, Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano and Cliff Lee make up what is most likely the top vote-getters in the AL Cy Young Race. Those pitchers make up a very dominant staff and all have their reasons why they should be considered for the award. However, when its all said and done, Felix-Sabathia-Price will be most likely the 3 finalists.

To put things into perspective, Felix being a finalist is due to the influx of "stat-head" voters that have been added to the Baseball Writers Association of America(BBWAA) and have effected the MVP races in the past with their sabermetric approach. Saber-heads, like me, love Felix's gaudy stats that make up for lack of wins and run-support for what is going to be statistically one of the worst hitting teams in the last 40 or so years. Felix leads the AL in ERA, Innings Pitched, Strikeouts and has 30 Quality Starts(6 Innings Pitched and given up 3 or less runs). There's been 6 pitchers that have 30 QS in a season in the last 3 decades and they all won the Cy Young Award. However, traditionalist BBWAA see the lack of Wins(usually somewhere around 20 is a lock to win it) and the 12 losses and throw Felix out of any discussion. Felix is also undefeated* against all teams in the ALDS. More on why I asterisk'd undefeated to come.

CC Sabathia is a traditionalist BBWAA member's dream. He's got 20+ Wins, an ERA hovering in the low 3's, is pitching in a pennant race and he comes from a large market(which means he's always pitching in front of big crowds). However, stat-heads point out that 1/2 of Sabathia's wins come from Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle. Those 3 teams will all be in the running for worst records in the AL. Also in the nay-sayer file for Sabathia is that he has only 1 win against the team his Yankees are fighting for the division crown with, the Tampa Bay Rays. He hasn't pitched well against them at all. Also, going against him, is the fact that he's got strong run-support. The Yankees top the majors in runs scored and give Sabathia close to a 5-6 run cushion when he starts. When a pitcher is given that, he's got to be AJ Burnett-bad to blow it. He, on the other hand, has taken advantage of it.

David Price is probably a long-shot to win it, however people unsure if Sabathia or Felix truly deserve it may vote Price because he's a blend of traditionalist stats and sabermetric stats. Price has 19 Wins(Not 20, but close to it), has a sub-3 ERA, decent amount of strikeouts and a low WHIP(walks and hits per innings pitched) and holds batters to a .222 batting average. He's got 11 wins against AL East opponents, which is seemingly a very tough division to play in. His downfalls: he plays for what is deemed a "small-market" team, his walks are a tad high(75), he's got the 2nd highest scoring team in baseball hitting behind him and this is also his 1st full year in the majors. Whether or not voters hold the youth issue against Price or not is unclear, however he's gotta have a Tim Lincecum-like year to give voters enough security to vote Price over Felix or CC.

My best guess is that Sabathia has done enough to get the majority of voters on his side, however there's been enough evidence that sabermetrically-inclined voters have swayed award voting before(Greinke over Felix, NL and AL MVP voting last year).

So...why did I asterisk the word undefeated and why did I name my article so?

Well... You see... Today, on twitter, a media member(who will remain nameless) that has been linked to work on ESPN decided to start tweeting facts that support King Felix's CY candidacy. One of those tweets was that Felix was undefeated versus all AL playoff teams this season. Well, in technical terms, the writer was correct. However, in actuality, his tweet was a fallacy. King Felix is undefeated against Texas, Minnesota and New York. However, he hadn't faced the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. Every match-up between Seattle and Tampa either came the day after a Felix start or the days preceding it. In pointing out this fact and stating that he should correct himself, the writer angrily told me that I was a "homer" and told me to "go away". I went on to say that I'm technically "in the right" for my statements and that due to his high follower counts, he should correct himself for the sake of baseball fans. Doing so resulted in him "blocking" me. No sleep lost here, however goes to show that there's still people who act like children with jobs that pay decent money. If you're able to write a blog and put it behind a money-subscription firewall and attract people into buying it, don't be a baby and run away from the truth.
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