All Star Pitchers and the Cy Young Award

Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price got the nod this last Tuesday as the All-Star Game starters. Both pitchers had a decent first half, but do the pitchers that get chosen at starters end up winning that season’s Cy Young Award like Tim Lincecum did last season?

I decided to go back and look at how often the Cy Young Award winner was that year’s All-Star Game starter. Both leagues started awarding Cy Young Awards in 1967 and that is were I started my comparison. To begin with, there were seven instances where a reliever won the Cy Young. I removed these instances since there was no chance for him to start the game. So out of a possible 79 Cy Young Award winners, 20 — or 25% — of them started the All-Star Game. Of these 20 instances, 16 of the them have happen since 1988, the halfway point in years since the award started.

Besides just looking at the All-Star game starter, I looked to see if that season’s Cy Young Award winner, starter or reliever, was selected to participate in the All Star Game. Of the 86 Cy Young Award winners, 70 — or 81% — of them were selected for that year’s All-Star Game. Since 1998, when the All-Star rosters started to expand from 28 players to the current 34, 23 of the 24 Cy Young Award winners were selected for the All-Star Game. The only exception was Johan Santana in 2004.

Most of these numbers make common sense. For someone to win the Cy Young, they are going to need a good first and second half of the season. All the pitchers that had a good first half are on display for the All-Star Game. These players are seen as the top pitchers and create a short list of players for the voters to watch in the second half of the season.

Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price are not guaranteed to win the Cy Young Award, but they shouldn’t be counted out either. There exists a good chance that this year’s Cy Young Award winner was on the All-Star roster though, especially considering recent trends.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


18 Responses to “All Star Pitchers and the Cy Young Award”

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  1. Jonathan says:

    With a roster including about 32,624 pitchers in the 2010 All Star Game, I have to assume it’s an absolute certainty that an All Star will win this year’s Cy. Unless of course someone like Jeremy Guthrie finishes the season with 120 shutout innings.

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  2. Ben says:

    Jerry Crasnick actually brought up an interesting bit of trivia recently. Lincecum won the Cy Young last year with a 15-7 record. Ubaldo already has 15 wins at the break. I know wins are antiquated, but I still think it’s an interesting tidbit. Anyone know/feel like looking up whether this has ever happened before besides years when relievers won the Cy?

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  3. Eric says:

    Who was the last Cy Young pitcher to not be selected to the all star team?

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    • Adam says:

      Johan Santana, in 2004. I didn’t have to look it up or anything!

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      • Eric R says:

        Good work :)

        2004 Johan Santana 7-6 3.78 ERA 1.07 WHIP 4.4 SO/BB
        1996 Pat Hentgen 8-6 3.86 ERA 1.38 WHIP 1.3 SO/BB
        1993 Greg Maddux 8-8 2.83 ERA 1.10 WHIP 3.5 SO/BB
        1990 Doug Drabek 9-4 3.28 ERA 1.23 WHIP 1.7 SO/BB
        1989 Bret Saberhagen 8-4 2.61 ERA 1.04 WHIP 4.2 SO/BB
        1987 Roger Clemens 8-6 3.66 ERA 1.23 WHIP 2.3 SO/BB
        1985 Bret Saberhagen 10-4 2.78 ERA 1.08 WHIP 3.5 SO/BB

        How about Don Newcombe? He was an All Star in his first four full seasons [he missed a few years in the middle due to Korea].
        Anyways in 1956 he won the Cy Young AND the MVP and was not an All Star.

        His pre-ASG line was 11-5, 3.51 ERA 1.09 WHIP and 3.5 SO/BB…

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      • Jeff Zimmerman says:

        The crazy thing about 1993 when Maddux won the Cy Young, three other Braves made the All-Star team (Smoltz, Avery and Glavine).

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  4. philkid3 says:

    “All the pitchers that had a good first half are on display for the All-Star game.”

    Francisco Liriano would like a word with you.

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  5. CBB says:

    Both pitchers had a decent first half? Decent? Wow.

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  6. Jeremy says:

    The think the Cy Young awards will go to Josh Johnson and Jon Lester (both on the all star roster) and I will guarantee at least one of them does.

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    • fredsbank says:

      “you’ll guarantee”?

      what, you’re secretly the entire BBWAA? in that case, where were you in 2007?

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  7. Yoloslim says:

    Carlos Marmol

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  8. Derek says:

    R.A. Dickey

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  9. Matthew says:

    Don’t forget that neither the 2nd nor 3rd place finishers in last year’s very close (among the top 3) NL Cy Young race (Carpenter and Wainwright) were an All-Star last year.

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  10. CircleChange11 says:

    This year looks to be shaping up to be very tight as well: Johnson, Halladay, Jimenez, Wainwright.

    This will be a good barometer of whether advanced metrics are taken seriously or not. Jimenez or Wainwright will likely lead the league in W with good ERA’s, while Johnson and Halladay will be advanced metric leaders.

    Johnson seems to be having the same type of first half that Haren did last year, with a very long streak of starts allowing 2 runs or less. Halladay brings strong performance with name recognition. Wainwright is going to be in a similar position as last year, and Jimenez was the story if the first half (at least most of it).

    Johnson is the only one not involved in some sort of pennant chase, although recent history suggests that’s less of a factor as previous seasons.

    This year will be very interesting in regards to what aspects lead to award winners. There won’t be a “reigning champion” winning the award until he’s dethroned.

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    • joser says:

      Well, maybe, but there’s still a lot of baseball to be played and people’s memories tend to be remarkably short. By the end of the season the BWAA may be saying “Ubaldo Who?” (at least the way things are going at the moment).

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