Thursday, November 18, 2010

Felix Wins By A Wide Margin Then Back To Normal

Felix Hernandez won his first Cy Young running away, receiving 21 of the 28 first place votes. King Felix was a horse pitching 249.2 innings while leading the American League with a 2.27 ERA. He was second in complete games (6) and strikeouts (232). And for those of us practicing nerdism, Felix was fourth in the league with a 3.04 FIP and third with a 6.2 WAR. The debate was whether he could take home the award with a 13-12 record against the likes of CC Sabathia (21 wins, 3.18 ERA), David Price (19 wins, 2.72 ERA) and Jon Lester (19 wins, 3.25 ERA).

The voters got it right and the BBWAA has done a solid job overall during this award season. Price, in a mild surprise, finished second receiving four first place votes over Sabathia and his three first place votes. Jon Lester placed fourth with Jered Weaver finishing a distant fifth. The win totals after Felix's 13 went back to the normal 19, 21, 19 and another 13. But Weaver did lead the league in strikeouts and had a 3.01 ERA. I'm surprised Justin Verlander's 18 wins didn't get him more than one fifth place vote.

In my ballot for the BBA, I had a coin flip between Felix and Cliff Lee for first and ended up settling with Felix for the top spot. Lee just managed one third place vote, one fourth and one fifth. Lee only won 12 games but he did pitch more innings than Price and Lester. I know the voting is getting better as far as looking at statistics past wins and ERA so I might be getting a little ahead of myself. However, Lee led the AL with a 2.58 FIP and 7.1 WAR. The reason I gave Lee more love than anyone else I've seen was his strikeout to walk ratio. Lee finished with a ridiculous 10.28 K/BB rate. Jered Weaver was second best with his 4.31 ratio.

Perhaps I'm a bit cynical even though the voters chose the best pitcher in the AL for the Cy. There was a big groundswell for Felix Hernandez by the stat guys and all of us writing from our moms' basements toward the end of the season. The main stream media had to take notice of our deifying of Felix this year. I suspect that's why he won by such a large margin. If the voters were really looking at advanced metrics now, wouldn't Cliff Lee have received more support? It's just a thought. Even the great Joe Sheehan admitted it was a tough year to sort out via Twitter...
@MnkysThrwngDrts I had him #5 (Lee). The AL Cy pool was a mess, seven or eight guys with cases, metrics pointing all over the place.
Fair enough. But Francisco Liriano was second in FIP (2.66) and fourth in WAR (6.0) and he received one fifth place vote. The aforementioned 18-game winner Justin Verlander finished third in FIP (2.97) and second in WAR (6.3) while being rewarded with a single fifth place vote. It just makes me wonder if Felix won due to the overwhelming hype surrounding him rather than the voters actually warming up to advanced metrics.

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