A Peek at the NL Cy Young Race

Like the AL MVP race, and unlike the AL Cy Young (Cliff Lee) and the NL MVP (Albert Pujols) races, the NL Cy Young has a few worthy candidates, each with their specific claim to the title of best pitcher in the National League for 2008.

Brandon Webb has the pedigree and the twenty wins that voters will gravitate toward and ranking third in WPA means that even by better stats, Webb is among the viable candidates.

If the Brewers hang on to take the Wild Card, will CC Sabathia get some consideration? His totals in the National League are certainly exemplary and best in the league, but he’s dogged but a sample size about half that of the other contenders unless you consider his AL stats as well. Which in and of itself raises an interesting debate, but in Sabathia’s case raises a further point of whether or not those combined stats are good enough to warrant a Cy Young.

Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers and Ryan Dempster of the Cubs have shiny ERAs and playoff teams to back their otherwise excellent seasons but overall weak case at a Cy Young award. Johan Santana hangs around 2nd place in many categories and warrants a mention as well.

In the end though, there’s one man that so far has risen above all these mentioned above and that’s Tim Lincecum. Not only does Lincecum lead the league in ERA (by about a quarter of a run) and strikeouts (by a whopping forty) but he has a gargantuan lead in WPA over Johan Santana in 2nd place 5.22 to 3.51. It’s just his second season but assuming the Giants don’t blow out his arm Tim Lincecum deserves the first of what should be multiple Cy Young Awards.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

6 Responses to “A Peek at the NL Cy Young Race”

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  1. Tom Au says:

    Another example of why I prefer hitters to pitchers. You have Lance Berkman, Mark Teixiera, Jason Bay, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Manny Ramirez all with WPA’s above 5.00 (with Carlos Lee and Hanley Ramirez not far behind).

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  2. Roman says:

    Wasn’t Aaron Harang the only pitcher to lead ERA and SO categories and not get the Cy Young a couple years ago? regardless, seems an easy choice to me, sadly I imagine a bigger name getting it.

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  3. Matt says:

    I called Lincecum to win the Cy Young about 2 months ago, before Webb and Haren both hit rough spots. I firmly believe that Lincecum is WITHOUT A DOUBT the best candidate in the NL, but I could see Santana, Sabathia or Webb winning it by winning a big start in the final week of the season that either puts them in the playoffs or secures their spot. I think it would be a travesty if Lincecum, barring some sort of implosion, doesn’t win the National League Cy Young though.

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  4. Reality Rog says:

    Call him Tim WinCyYoung — or just call him Mr. Consistency.

    An inning-ending out that turned into a two-run triple when it was completely misplayed by Eugenio, an infielder making just his fourth start in left field, cost Lincecum his 18th win and instead resulted in his 4th loss. His first came on a highly questionable balk call by umpire Gary Darling.

    To illustrate the luck Brandon Webb has had and the lack of luck (five wins blown by his bullpen) Lincecum has had, Tim outpitched Brandon on back-to-back nights between the Giants and Diamondbacks — yet Tim got a loss and Brandon another win. Despite that, Webb has three more losses than Lincecum to go along with his four more wins.

    Which is the better record? 17-4 or 21-7? The former is an .810 winning percentage; the latter, .750.

    With a major league leading 243 strikeout (just eight from the SF Giants franchise record), Lincecum has been the more spectacular. With a 2.46 ERA that is 0.80 lower than Webb’s and with 21 games in which he gave up two or fewer earned runs and 27 with three or less, Tim has been the more consistent.

    It seems odd to call a talent as explosive as Tim Lincecum Mr. Consistency. But with a 13-3 record following Giants defeats, that is precisely what he has been.

    Without Brandon Webb, the Diamondbacks quite possibly would have finished second, just as they likely will. Without Tim Lincecum, the Giants might be the worst team in baseball.

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  5. Colm says:

    I just wish the Mariners had drafted him

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  6. Very nice Giants information. I think Lincecum will be an immediate hall-of-famer.
    I hope to be in San Francisco for a game this fall. I am visiting from Peru.

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