Prior to the completion of the 2010 regular season, I gave a quick run down of the main candidates for the major baseball awards in Early Award Returns. Never one to rest with a cursory look into any topic, I thought it would be a worthwhile venture to explore each of the major awards in a more in-depth manner. With that, here are my thoughts on the 2010 AL MVP.
To see the previous articles in the series click on the following link:
AL Cy Young Discussion
Clay Buchholz: He battled for the AL lead in ERA all year before finishing second with a 2.33 mark. He was consistent all year long with a 2.45 ERA an a 1.25 WHIP in the first half an a 2.20 ERA an a 1.15 WHIP in the second. However, his candidacy will be hurt by the fact that he made only 28 starts covering 173.2 innings, and by the fact that he had only 120 strikeouts on the year. He was also the second best pitcher on his own team (more on that in a bit).
Trevor Cahill: The young A’s righty led baseball in BABIP this year. That obviously helped him to produce an out of nowhere season that defies traditional analysis. Cahill had just 118 Ks in 196.2 innings leading to a 1.87 K/BB ratio which is worse than the big league average. He somehow still managed to go 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP because, at least in part, that he was so hard to produce a hit off of (.220 BAA).
Felix Hernandez: Can he win the award with a record of 13-12 (no pitcher has won the award in a full season with less than 15 victories – and I’m not counting closers so you can save the angry emails)? King Felix led baseball with a 2.27 ERA. He led the AL with 249.2 IP. He was the hardest pitcher in the Junior Circuit to hit (.212 BAA). No pitcher could match his 30 quality starts. He was second in the AL with 232 Ks an a 1.06 WHIP. So how was he 13-12? Blame on offense that gave him the worst runs support in the AL at 3.75 runs per nine innings (teammate Jason Vargas was second with a 4.48 mark).
Cliff Lee: He split his season between the Mariners and the Rangers. He was phenomenal with and 8-3 record, 2.34 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 13 starts with the Rangers. Oh yeah, he walked six batters in that time. He wasn’t anywhere near as effective with the Rangers as he battled through injury (4-6, 3.98 ERA, 1.06 WHIP), but his overall numbers were still tremendous including a 3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and an almost unbelievable total of 18 walks in 28 starts. He has little chance to win the award given his record (12-9) and the fact that he was better in the first half (voters often have short memories).
Jon Lester: Finished just short of 20 victories with 19 including eight wins in his last 10 appearances, but Lester firmly established himself as one of the elite left-handed starters in the game. He posted a season (3.25 ERA, 225 K, 1.20 WHIP in 208 IP) that was damn near identical to his 2009 effort (3.41 ERA, 225 Ks, 1.23 WHIP in 203.1 IP). He was great, and could be helped by the fact that he pitches for the Red Sox.
David Price: The league’s third best in ERA at 2.72, Price had a solid 1.19 WHIP in his first full season in the big leagues (208.2 IP). Price fell just short of 20 with 19 wins, and he racked up an impressive total of 188 Ks. Unlike Lester, Price will be hurt by the fact that he plays for the Rays since no one on a national scene pays much attention to games played in the Sunshine State.
CC Sabathia: All he does is take the ball and produce wins year after year. CC was second in the league with 237.2 IP as he produced a major league best 21 victories. Sabathia also matched Price with a 1.19 WHIP while he snuck slightly ahead with 197 Ks. Of course, his WHIP was slightly higher at 3.18. Sabathia has been in the bigs for 10 years, and every one of those seasons he has lasted at least 180.1 IP while winning at least 11 games. The monstrous lefty is as consistently dominating as any starter in baseball.
Jered Weaver: All he did was lead baseball in strikeouts with 233, a career best. Weaver, like King Felix, was snubbed by his team as Jered went only 13-12 despite a 3.01 ERA (5th in the AL) and a 1.07 WHIP (3rd). Weaver also walked only 54 batters on the year leading to a 4.31 K/BB mark which just so happened to be second in the AL to Mr. Lee and third in all of baseball.
It will never happen, voters just won’t be able to look past the low win total, but the best pitcher in the AL this season was King Felix.
8- Clay Buchholz
7- Trevor Cahill
6- David Price
5- Cliff Lee
4- Jon Lester
3- Jered Weaver
2- CC Sabathia
1- Felix Hernandez
By Ray Flowers