Thursday, November 18, 2010
Felix Hernandez wins American League Cy Young award
When the Cy Young award results were announced I was surprised Felix Hernandez had won by such an overwhelming amount. Not that Felix didn't deserve the award but it shows how the baseball writers mindset has changed. Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young despite a 13-12 record and the writers got the vote right. Somewhere out there Harold Reynolds and every other former baseball player is banging his head against the wall because reality has sunk in. The baseball writers know more about the game than these former players despite not being able to hit a ball out of the infield. I'll trust Geoff Baker's, Dave Cameron's or Buster Olney's opinion over John Kruk, Harold Reynolds or Bill Krueger. For stat geeks like myself this Cy Young is a great victory. Also Felix did put up some amazing numbers and is a pitcher who you must see in person at least once in your life.
Growing up I never got the opportunity to see Randy Johnson pitch in a game which was a huge regret of mine. Due to the Mariners being good in the late 90's and my parents working during the week we had to buy tickets in advance on weekends. The starting pitcher was usually a Bill Swift or Ken Cloude type. I did get to see Roger Clemens in person and that was a great thrill even though the Mariners were killed to see such greatness. Well now the Mariners are terrible and you can drive up on gameday to watch them play. That is what I've done with Felix in his career three times.
Back in 2005, for my brothers birthday I took him to the Mariners game on August 15th, 2005. His birthday is actually August 13th but I wasn't going to pay money to see Ryan Franklin pitch instead I opted for the Monday game against the Royals and called in sick for work. I witnessed greatness in Felix's third career start where he went eight innings, allowed just one run and struck out 11 for his first career 10+ strikeout game. I would see two more starts from Felix throughout the years including 2007 saw him pitch against the Minnesota Twins. I went to that game with a group of friends because Felix had pitched a one hitter the previous start against Boston Red Sox. Well Felix got hurt in the first inning and lasted just one third of an inning allowing three runs. I immediately went to the bar the rest of the game as I couldn't believe Felix got hurt. Then this year I went to a game against the Baltimore Orioles on April 21st which was a Wednesday. Felix pitched a complete game going nine innings, allowing no earned runs and striking out six. When he went out for the ninth inning I was pumped up to see Felix. I'm glad I saw Felix pitch two gems so far. He has been pretty stellar this season regardless of his record.
The controversy will be Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young with a 13-12 record which looks pretty average. It is the worst record of any Cy Young award starting pitcher in major league history. Felix other numbers were amazing he posted a 2.27 ERA while David Price posted a 2.72 ERA, C.C. Sabathia posted a 3.18 ERA. Felix had a 1.06 WHIP while Price had a 1.19 WHIP and Sabathia also had a 1.19 WHIP, Felix also held opponents to a .212 batting average which is the lowest in the American League. Felix also led the American League with 249 2/3 innings pitched compared to Price throwing 208 2/3 innings, Sabathia threw 237 2/3 innings. Felix also beat them out in strikeouts finishing second in the American League with 232 strikeouts, Sabathia had 197 strikeouts and Price finished with 188 strikeouts. Take away wins and this Cy Young race isn't even close or up for debate. Why should Felix get punished because his team can't score runs. In 10 of Felix 34 starts the Mariners scored just one run or were shutout. In nine no-decisions Felix had an era of 1.69 meaning his team gave him no support. This is the Cy Young award not the best pitcher on the best team award.
For me I've never been more into a single postseason award than I have this one. During the All-Star game when Felix was wrongfully snubbed I remember arguing with some Yankees fan on my facebook blog page how Felix was snubbed. He felt Verlander deserved the All-Star game over Felix because of his record. Several people told me I was wrong to defend Felix since the Mariners were terrible and I argued that it shouldn't matter. I even wrote a blog post how Felix should have made the All-Star team which you can read right here. I feel vindicated today as I'm a stats guy. The stat crowd always gets belittled because most of us aren't very good at sports. So the jock crowd like the former players resent the media crowd because the media is usually smarter than them. Like I said when I watch these networks I'll listen to Buster Olney and Jason Stark before I care what Dave Winfield or Curt Schilling have to say. Today was a huge win for the stat nerds that baseball is finally evolving. Oh yeah just because you like sabermetrics you can still watch the game like with my eyes I saw that Felix Hernandez was by far and away the best pitcher in the game. Would Felix crap the bed in the playoffs like Sabathia and Price did? Who knows but I have a feeling he wouldn't since he is the best pitcher in baseball this year.
All in all Seattle Mariners fans should thank beat writer Geoff Baker. Although Baker didn't have a vote he has been campaigning for Felix since July. Baker isn't a homer either and is often critical of the Mariners when mistakes are made. I can think of some political parties that could use Baker for campaigning. It wasn't hard to campaign for Felix as he was the most dominant in every pitching category that you could control. He couldn't control the Mariners dreadful offense who scored just three runs a game for him in his starts. All Felix could do is take the ball every fifth day and pitch deep into ball games. In 16 of his 34 starts Felix pitched eight innings or more which is incredible for today's game of pitch counts. Yes it is funny to think the Mariners have a Cy Young pitcher, two gold glover winners and still lost 101 games this season. Thank you Felix for giving me a reason to watch Mariners baseball even in September ever fifth day. Felix Hernandez has finally arrived and he has officially been crowned the king!