I’m sure I will address this issue in more depth as we move forward, perhaps in an even longer piece if the people who vote on the end of the year awards vote as I fear that they will. But the bottom line, no matter how you break this thing down, the answer is always the same: there is only one option for the AL Cy Young award, and his name is Zack Greinke of the Royals.
Here is what I know, the irrefutable data that we have to review.
(1) Greinke leads the AL in ERA at 2.14. In fact, he leads baseball with that mark (Tim Lincecum leads the NL at 2.30).
Since 2000, do you know how many AL hurlers have produced an ERA below 2.20? Try one, and that was Pedro Martinez in 2000 when he posted a 1.74 ERA in one of the greatest performances in the modern era. Moreover, since 1980 only two AL hurlers who qualified for the ERA crown have posted a better ERA, Pedro (he also had a 2.07 marl in 1999) and Roger Clemens (1.93 in 1990, 2.05 in 1997).
(2) Greinke leads the AL with a 1.06 WHIP. CC Sabathia is second with a 1.13 mark.
(3) Greinke is second in the AL with 224 Ks, in just 210.1 innings mind you, good for a 9.58 K/9 mark (Justin Verlander leads the way with a total of 239 punchouts).
(4) Greinke is third in the AL in innings pitched with those 210.1 innings (Roy Halladay has tossed 214 innings, Sabathia 213.1).
(5) Greinke has tossed six complete games. Only one other AL hurler has thrown more than four, and that is the league leader Roy Halladay who has tossed seven.
(6) Only four times in his 30 trips to the hill has Greinke failed to last six innings in an outing. Think about that. Eighty-seven percent of the time when he has taken the hill he has gone at least six innings. The four times he failed to he still pitched five innings. Moreover, Greinke has tossed 24 quality starts, the second best mark in the AL behind Felix Hernandez.
So to review, Greinke is first in ERA and WHIP, second in strikeouts, third in innings, second in complete games and second in quality starts. And you think someone else deserves to be the AL Cy Young winner?
As I started with off the top, hopefully the guys that vote for the award don’t say ‘yeah, that’s great, but he only has 14 victories’ and vote for someone else. At least it doesn’t look like anyone is going to hit the 20 victory plateau and that should help. Newsflash guys, wins are a horrific way to judge a pitchers effort. I can’t even believe I still have to say that, but some people still don’t seem to get it.
How do I handicap the race? Here are my top-5 with a couple of weeks left.
5 – Roy Halladay. If not for his struggles in August (2-4, 4.71 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) he would likely be vying for the second spot.
4 – CC Sabathia. He leads the league in wins (17) while posting a tremendous set of overall numbers: 3.42 ERA, 178 Ks, 1.13 WHIP in 213.1 innings.
3 – Justin Verlander. A bit more dominating than Sabathia with his league leading 239 Ks, Verlander also has a slightly better ERA (3.34) while posting a strong WHIP (1.17).
2 – Felix Hernandez. Another unsung hero. Hernandez is second in the league with an ERA of 2.52, fourth in K (193), fifth in WHIP (1.15) and fifth in innings pitched (207.1).
1 – Zack Greinke. You read about why this guy should be the clear cut winner above despite having “only” 14 wins.
One last note. ESPN has a tool called the Cy Predictor, and while I frequently disagree with things that are spoken or written about at ESPN, I have to admit that it looks like they got it right this time as Greinke leads their list as well.
By Ray Flowers