Blog Archives

The Precedent for the Tight AL Cy Young Race

The 2013 American League Cy Young race is very close.  According to FanGraphs WAR here are the top three finishers:

  1. Max Scherzer – 6.4 WAR
  2. Anibal Sanchez – 6.2
  3. Felix Hernandez – 6.0

I realize that Wins Above Replacement is not a be-all end-all but it is a pretty good estimate of value over a long season (in this case ~30 starts each).

Looking back at the history of the AL Cy Young award I found another very tight three-way race.  Back in 1971 the AL leaders in pitching fWAR looked like this:

  1. Vida Blue – 8.7 WAR
  2. Wilbur Wood – 8.6
  3. Mickey Lolich – 8.2

Lolich, the Detroit Tigers ace finished second in the Cy voting.  The 15 (out of 24) voters who didn’t place Lolich first had to overlook his AL leading 25 wins and 308 strikeouts.

Also in 45 games started the lefty averaged 8 1/3 innings pitched per start. Lolich threw an astounding 376 innings in 1971!  This was forty-two more than the second most in the league hurled by Wilbur Wood (who finished third in the voting for Cy).

Like this year any of the three guys in ’71 was a worthy choice although it’s hard to argue against the winner, Vida Blue. The twenty-one year old Oakland Athletic led the AL in K rate (8.6/9 IP), shutouts (8) and WAR!

The voters got the jist of the whole thing four decades before saber-metrics became mainstream.  We’ll find out later today if they’ve still got it.


is Craig Kimbrel the second coming? #CYYoung

55%.  55%.  55%.

That’s Craig Kimbrel‘s strikeout rate over his last 30 games of the 2012 season.  109 batters faced 60 down on strikes.

BTW: his K rate vs. lefties and righties is exactly the same in 2012…


Is Jayson Stark right, does Kimbrel deserve to be the NL Cy Young winner?  Do you prefer the choices of the staff at Baseball Prospectus when they have Kimbrel 6th on their NL ballot?

More than semantics

When the Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 on Sept 20 sports talkers and bloggers alike handed the NL Cy Young award to Clayton Kershaw.  He pitched 7 1/3 innings surrendering 1 run on his way to win #20.  Kershaw received bonus points from observers for going 4-0 “against Tim Lincecum” this season.  It is true the Dodgers beat the Giants all 4 times these two aces faced off but the battle is not between the two starting pitchers.  The game of ball and base pits 9-on-9.  The pitcher only has influence on the performance of the opposing 9 hitters.

It should be stated that Kershaw and his fielders held the Giants lineup to 6 runs in 42 innings over 6 games in 2011 (1.3 RA/G)*.  When evaluating Kershaw the identity of the opposing team’s pitcher and the number of runs the Dodgers score are both irrelevant.

I’m just saying.

*SF ranked 16th out of 16 NL teams in runs scored this year (3.5/G)