Baseball's award season is upon us and we finally have a vote that counts for something this year. We're proud members of the Baseball Blogger Alliance and they've been kind enough to give us ballots. The only thing the BBWAA ever gave us was an autographed Brien Taylor baseball signed in crayon. Today we'll be unveiling our AL Walter Johnson ballot for pitcher of the year. Note: I completely ignored wins.
1. Felix Hernandez
I'm almost reluctant to place King Felix first here because I have a much stronger statistical case for my second place vote getter. And sorry New York, CC didn't even make my ballot. Felix is certainly deserving after pitching a 2.27/3.04/3.26 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) line over 249.2 innings. He finished the season with a 6.2 WAR and a 3.19 SIERA. It was a fantastic season by all accounts and the only reason for Mariners' fans to undo the nooses they fashioned around the ceiling fan in their parents' dining room. But...
2. CLiff Lee
Some fair warning, I love the stats more than Jay and Silent Bob love the mother effing Time. Lee led all pitchers in WAR (7.0) and also led the galaxy with a 10.28 K/BB ratio. So, Lee's final pitching line was 3.18/2.58/3.23 and he had a 3.03 SIERA but threw around 37 fewer innings than Felix. Are four starts enough to justify putting Hernandez over Lee? I'm not sure. The other issue I looked at here was Lee's average .302 BABIP compared to Hernandez's .273 BABIP. Neither was particularly lucky or unlucky and the difference can probably be explained by Lee being a slightly more flyball pitcher (40.4%) than Hernandez (29.8%). The two were much closer than I initially thought and I just about flipped a coin for the top spot. I suspect Felix will run away with this award but Lee is just as deserving.
3. Jered Weaver
Weaver was asked to become the staff ace after John Lackey's free agent departure and Weaver rose to the occasion. Weaver led the American League in strikeouts with 233, one more than Felix Hernandez. He finished with a .301/3.06/3.51 line and a 5.9 WAR. Weaver's 2.97 SIERA was tops among AL starters. To reinforce just how dominant Cliff Lee was, Weaver finished with the second highest K/BB ratio (4.31) but was still three light years behind Lee's ridiculous 10.28 ratio. Like Felix to the Mariners, Weaver was one of the lone bright spots in a disappointing Angels' season.
4. Justin Verlander
Here's my straight WAR pick. Verlander had a good season with a 3.37/2.97/3.68 line and his 6.3 WAR was second in the League to Cliff Lee. Verlander's strikeout numbers dipped form 10.09 K/9 to 8.79 dooming my fantasy baseball team.
5. Francisco Liriano
Liriano had a much better season than his 3.62 ERA suggested but I don't how how much the BBWAA will look at his 2.66 FIP or 3.06 xFIP for voting purposes. David Price and CC Sabathia are sure to get more ballot love thanks to their shiny win totals. Liriano was even unlucky to some extent with a .340 BABIP that would have been higher if he didn't have the Twins defense behind him.