Award Crowdsourcing: AL Cy Young

I’ve been having a lot of fun with these Contract Crowdsourcing pieces, but there’s no reason we have to limit ourselves to just estimating free agent wealth. Since it’s the hot topic of the moment, I thought I’d let you guys weigh in on the AL Cy Young race, which is turning into a referendum on the value of “wins” for pitchers. The narrative being told at the moment is that Felix Hernandez is, by far, the most deserving candidate, and that only CC Sabathia’s win total might stop him from winning the award.

Of course, Felix isn’t blowing the field away like Josh Hamilton is in the MVP race. He’s had a great year, but he’s not the only pitcher having a great year. You can make an argument for pitchers other than Felix without resorting to craziness. So, I figured we’d put it to you guys. If the season ended today, who is your American League Cy Young Award winner?




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

131 Responses to “Award Crowdsourcing: AL Cy Young”

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  1. Kevin S. says:

    What’s up with that Sample Question 2 field?

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  2. Gio says:

    Am I voting for who should win or will win?

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      • James says:

        I screwed up and voted who I thought “will” win (as in the previous Crowdsourcing polls). I think it’s more interesting to try to predict who the BBWAA will pick. I voted David Price, because he seems like the BBWAA’s type of guy – plays in the AL East on one of the best teams in the league, with good W/L (probably will end up with 19 or 20 wins), ERA, and K numbers. I don’t think Hernandez, Liriano, or Lee have much of a shot with the BBWAA unless one of them goes on a roll and closes out with 4-5 more wins.

        The “debate” about who should win is more frustrating than anything. When one guy essentially leads the league in ERA, FIP and xFIP while also leading the next closest guys in IP by a wide margin, at this point, there’s not much to honestly debate. Maybe something will change that in the next 3 weeks.

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    • Jross says:

      Yes, I picked Price as well cause I thought this was a “who will win” situation kinda like the previous crowdsource posts.

      Someone needs to clear it up on the next award post.

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  3. Thomas says:

    I predict a landslide from readers on this site.

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  4. Will says:

    I think it should be Shields simply for the fact that 3/4s of his pitches are pretty bad and yet he’s the only one in the top ten for K and BB!

    I don’t really mean that, of course.

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  5. Eric says:

    Yeah, I think Cliff Lee get’s the majority here too but I guess Liriano would be a good choice too for those who put a lot of emphasis on this last month.

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    • Nick says:

      I voted for Liriano. He led the Twins (Carl Pavano’s resurgence didn’t hurt), and kept them in it for a majority of his games. A big reason why they’re a power this year; he covers both the impressive singular achievment and helped his team vastly.

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  6. Leo says:

    Why is there no love for closers? I haven’t heard anyone talk about a reliever in the Cy Young discussion, and while I generally don’t think closers should win the award, Rafael Soriano especially, and even Soria and Rivera have had fantastic years and should be included in the debate.

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  7. Kool says:

    I am a Giants fan.

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    • Jason B says:

      That is HUGELY relevant to the A.L. Cy Young discussion. Other pertinent facts:

      1) Dave Stieb went 18-6 in 1990.
      2) Julius Erving led the ABA in FG and FGA in 1973-74.
      3) I like strawberry jam on my toast.
      4) There is no number four.
      5) Blue dragons had 70 hit points in Dragon Warrior.

      I think that pretty definitively shows who should take home the hardware.

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      • Kool says:

        I was hinting at who I chose. Liriano is the only man here that had ties to the organization. Despite that, I would select him even if I wasn’t a fan; the Twins would not be in first place if they just threw him in the bullpen. He’s done a very good job for them and I think he would deserve it most.

        Try thinking before you speak.

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      • Nicky C says:

        I hated those dragons!

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    • NickL1538 says:

      How did Pierzynski work out for you again?

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  8. KingPiccolo420 says:

    My vote goes to King Felix because he is the most dominating. He’s actually having a slightly better year than last year. BUT, the award will most likely go to CC because of his win total. a really good pitcher, but a lot of pitchers would get twenty plus wins with massive run support.

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    • Eric says:

      I think Felix or CC will win it and I think that if I had to pick one pitcher going forward I would pick Felix. But — if voting was today — I agree with Thomas that there’s not too much of a question as to who should win it.

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  9. Locke says:

    I could really give it to Lee, Felix or Liriano. They have all been tremendous. I’m leaning Lee for the historic control numbers. It’s a shame he’s stranded just south of 67% of his runners, otherwise I think he’d be the slam dunk. In the end, I dropped it on Liriano, if I had to vote right now. I think it’s definitely still up in the air though.

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  10. Zachary Kolodin says:

    Felix has 219 innings pitched. Just a point of fact.

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    • Eric says:

      Innings matter a lot and Felix’s WAR reflects this but it’s not the only factor…Also for us context counts too.

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    • Locke says:

      Definitely a point indeed. Whether or not this is universal viewpoint, or even a logical one, I give more leniency with innings for the CYA than MVP. As CYA seems to me to be the “best pitcher” while MVP is the award for the player that had the added the most value to his team.

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  11. crix says:

    everybody knows that felix is the better pitcher. even yankee fans know it. win total is the most rediculous stat to keep track of. cuz felix can give up 1 or 2 runs in 8 or 9 inn. and might lose. infact it’s happened several times this season cuz the m’s offense stinks. CC gives up 6 runs but wins cuz he got 8 runs of support.

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    • Locke says:

      Right, I think you’re going to see CC come in at around 5%-10%(max) of the vote here. The real debate is Lee v Felix v Liriano.

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  12. TAO says:

    If i had to pick right now it would be felix. to be honest nobody else is that close. look at WAR, innings, k’s, FIP, etc. not a difficult decision.

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  13. YankeeFan#1 says:

    I hate to admit this but Felix is the man. he shut us out 3 times this year and he shut down the redsox a couple times. he he he… great offenses shut down by the best. sorry cc your still my boy.

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  14. sammy says:

    Liriano has only given up 3 homers this year. that being said he’s still not quite as good as felix over there is seattle

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    • Chadam says:

      Why Felix getting so much more love than Liriano?

      Liriano: 3.04 xFIP in 172 IP
      Felix: 3.25 xFIP in 219

      Liriano has pitched better than Felix but for a shorter amount of time..and WAR says Liriano has been better than Felix, 6.1 to 5.9. WAR accounts for the fact that Felix has pitched 40 more innings than Liriano, right?

      I’m not knocking Felix, he’s the man and deserves all of the praise he’s getting, and Sabathia getting the AL Cy over him would be a travesty. But why is the stat crowd so quick to crown Felix as the AL Cy Young over Liriano – who has had a better season according to the advanced numbers?

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      • Chadam says:

        Yep, I type out a nice argument and sully it by forgetting to put “is” in the first sentence. Brain fart.

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      • Eric says:

        I think that Lee belongs in that discussion too? Also, I don’t know, do we still need to talk about “advanced” and “simple” numbers, they all tell different and worthwhile stories right?

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      • joe says:

        47 innings is a LOT more.

        Also WAR doesn’t say Liriano has been better, it says he should have been better (or if you prefer better going forward). WAR is an estimate of past performance.

        Is a .19 xFIP difference real or in the error bar of that measurement?
        If it is real, is it more important than nearly 30% more innings pitched?

        People quote WAR, FIP and xFIP as if they are the end all be all of past performance (and are all pretty much the same # re-stated and yes I know xFIP which adjusts HR). Is there a decent understanding of the error bar on these models and what is a statistically significant difference.

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      • Eric says:

        47 innings is a lot, lot, more and WAR really does take it into account…

        Of course WAR isn’t the be all end all but it probably is a good starting point for us to look at a pitcher’s “context neutral performance”. [And can you expand a little bit more on the difference between "an estimate of past performance" like WAR and what it would mean to have "been" better?]

        What do you think the most important factors are Joe?

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      • Randy says:

        I don’t understand why xFIP enters into the discussion at all. If Player X has an unsustainable HR/FB rate in 2010 and his xFIP is higher than his FIP as a result, sure that matters…for evaluating that player in 2011 and beyond. For evaluating 2010, those HR’s off the board count. Those HR’s off the board have saved runs and contributed to wins. Using xFIP instead of FIP is akin to not giving Bautista credit for his HR’s this year because his zips projection still isn’t that great.

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      • Eric says:

        This has been a question of interest for me too, how should I treat these HR’s when I’m trying to enshrine who should be my fangraphs Cy Young?:

        Lee: As a Mariner – 5 HR’s in 103.2 innings; As a Ranger – 10 HR’s in 80.2 innings. Overall .73 HR/9

        Liriano: As a Twin – 4 HR’s in 172.1. Overall 0.21 HR/9

        Hernandez: As a Mariner – 14 HR’s in 219.1 innings. Overall 0.57 HR/9

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      • shoewizard says:

        “”WAR says Liriano has been better than Felix, 6.1 to 5.9.””

        It is reassuring to know we can measure these things with this level of precision.

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      • Ben says:

        Yeah I was basically going to write what you said, so I’ll just tag on. This is what I don’t get, and I wonder if it’s laziness? The tone of the conversation seems to be ‘stat guys’ (and by that I mean the random masses who are more stat oriented, not necessarily the experts in the field) all rallying around Felix as if to try to prove a point, and if true that would be a shame

        Is Felix having a better year than CC? Of course he is. Is his performance a great illustration of the fairly absurd arbitrariness of W-L record? Definitely. But in seeking to push forward these points, it seems like too many of ‘us’ have failed to do the due diligence that we so often complain about mainstream media failing to do- take some time to investigate before drawing conclusions.

        Felix has a very good case for the Cy this year. But you can’t possibly look at the metrics and conclude he’s the clear-cut winner. There is nothing obvious about the comparison between him and Liriano. He may very well be the guy, but there is most definitely a conversation to be had.

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      • Not David says:

        “”WAR says Liriano has been better than Felix, 6.1 to 5.9.””

        No, WAR doesn’t say Liriano has been better, it says they’ve had similar value.

        It’s comments like these that give followers of sabermetrics a bad name in the eyes of “traditionalists.”

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      • Patrick says:

        No, “Not David”. WAR says that while they have been of similar value, Liriano has most likely been better.

        And the larger point, that deeper analysis points to Felix as the “clear winner”, is complete bull shit.

        I’m sorry, Dave, but by WAR – which is supposed to summarize IP and the quality of those innings – he’s the third best pitcher in the American league.

        Is the difference small? Yes. But that’s the whole point. The difference is SMALL. It’s not clear cut.

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    • Luke in MN says:

      Quality of opposition by OPS:
      CC: .713; Felix: .728; Lee: .736(SEA), .727(TEX); Liriano: .736

      Home park 2010 park factor:
      CC: 1.19; Felix: .8; Lee: .8(SEA), 1.07(TEX); Liriano: 1

      CC’s actually faced rather weak competition, which is sort of counterintuitive given he’s in the AL East. Otherwise maybe you give Liriano a slight boost for facing slightly tougher comp than the other two.

      Park factor seems like sort of a big deal, but it’s so hard to measure the impact. It is sort of factored out by xFIP, but not really, since SAFECO, e.g., seems to increase strikeouts (and BBs too) as well as suppressing HRs. I’d probably knock Felix down a peg or so because of SAFECO.

      I think Lee, Liriano, and Felix could all win or lose it in the last few weeks.

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  15. Chase says:

    cc is the best he’s prob gona get 25 wins thats crazy good

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  16. Austin says:

    For some reason, I feel like all of the discussion on Hernandez vs. Sabathia is trickling far enough into the mainstream that the actual voters will have become pretty familiar with the arguments for Felix. I really think that he’s going to win the award for that reason. Plus, even without the prominent discussion, I have to imagine that the ERA gap will be awfully hard for them to ignore.

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    • Eric says:

      Yeah but like Locke said CC’s not in the discussion here and won’t be unless he does something extraordinary this month (of course he will be in the discussion elsewhere). He’s more in the class of the Pavano’s and Lewis’ a solid top 20 pitcher in the AL but not on this years short list for best starters.

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  17. King Sabathia says:

    Sabathia has clearly shown that he knows how to win games more often than Queen Felix. Haven’t you ever heard the chant “scoreboard”? you play to win the game and CC wins. period. HE KNOWS HOW TO WIN!

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  18. The Nicker says:

    I think it comes down to a final four of King Felix, CC, Liriano and Lee. Most would agree.

    I think total IP get undersold on WAR, because you’re saving the bullpen. I understand that’s pretty impossible to measure but I think it’s important enough to account for something.

    I leave Sabathia in contention not because of the wins, but because of the harder competition. The A’s and Angels haven’t exactly been lighting it up with the bats this year. I think in the end my votes would go:

    1) Hernandez
    2) Sabathia
    3) Liriano
    4) Lee

    An argument could be made for any of them.

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    • suicide squeeze says:

      Explain your “harder competition” argument. Felix faced the Yankees three times, whereas Sabathia obviously didn’t. I’ve seen people do the math and Felix has actually faced harder compeition.

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    • Eric says:

      Innings Pitched are very, very important and hence an important part of WAR. I mean, WAR is playing time multiplied by talent over baseline. Can you explain a little more how and why we should factor in “saving the bullpen” in our Cy Young calculations beyond what WAR is already telling us?

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    • Luke in MN says:

      Actually, by a significant margin CC has the lowest opponent OPS of any of them.

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      • The Nicker says:

        Yeah, uh, my bad. Somebody actually put in the work after I posted that comment and showed CC hasn’t faced better competition, so my mistake. In my defense, it is counter-intuitive and I just lazily assumed that CC had seen more of the AL East, which have better teams playing mostly hitter’s parks.

        So I apologize. I’d probably bump CC down a couple spots in that case. As for “saving the bullpen,” look at it as a form of chaining that we do when computing reliever WAR. WAR basically takes FIP x IP, which is fine. But it doesn’t accurately measure the extra value garnered by going 8 IP/game as opposed to 6.1 IP/game.

        CC/Felix are basically eliminating the 7th and 8th inning performances of relievers and going straight to the 9th inning guy, whose performance should be much better than his set-up men. WAR short changes this because there is an assumption that relief pitchers will be equal in the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning, when that’s almost never true.

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  19. bakes says:

    As a yankee fan my only wish would be for Felix to have been pitching in place of CC. They would have gave Felix the award a month ago.

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  20. Leo says:

    Jeff Fletcher at Fanhouse said it best:

    “Sabathia has done one thing better than Hernandez: sit in the dugout while his team scores runs.”

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    • joe says:

      Sabathia has 1 win where he has allowed more than 3ER… that’s right 1 out of 19. This talk about run support is highly misleading because you have to look at WHEN pitchers get run support, not a mere average.

      Hernandez clearly has been hurt by his run support, but I don’t think CC has been aided by as much as people perceive. When you win 9-1 does it matter whether it was 9-1 or 5-1? When you give up 6 runs, does it matter if you get 2 runs or 5 runs?

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      • Eric says:

        I’m confused here is Sabathia even in the consideration for the top 10 in the AL?

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      • joe says:

        All I’m saying is looking at aggregate run support is lazy and highly misleading when you don’t look at context of when the pitcher is getting the run support. To blindly attribute wins to run support without digging deeper is typical.

        Now I’m confused did I say Sabathia was in the Top 10? If you want to creatively reinterpret my comment to knock it down, fine.

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      • Eric says:

        And is it a foregone conclusion that Felix should be that seriously in the discussion for #1 in the Cy Young? I mean I love Felix more than most and I think if I had to choose any pitcher to start a team with it would be him but I’m not so sure that historically if Cy Young voting went today he should be higher than 3 or 4 (but of course what criteria should we be using here at fangraphs?)

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      • Eric says:

        What I meant to ask Joe and not necessarily just to you but to the last few commentors is whether Sabathia is really in our debate for who should be the Cy Young (and again not who “will” be)? It seems to me he’s been a very good top 15-20 pitcher in the AL but not quite in that top of the top range…

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      • Eric says:

        The point about aggregate run support is great by the way.

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    • quint says:

      Thats the only evidence that CC ‘knows how to win’ – he signed with the Yankees.

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  21. 3rd Period Points says:

    In runs above average, Felix’s 4 pitches have been uber-valuable:

    wFB – 22.1 – 3rd in AL
    wSL – 5.1 – 13th in AL
    wCB – 2.5 – 8th in AL
    wCH – 13.8 – 4th in AL

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    • Eric says:

      Nice. Here are the numbers for Lee and Liriano too.

      Cliff Lee
      wFB – 23.8 – 2nd in AL
      wSL 0.2 – 34th in AL
      wCT – -2.3 – 9th in AL (out of only 13)
      wCB – 2.4 – 9th in AL
      wCH – 4.3 – 16th in AL

      Francisco Liriano
      wFB 2.1 – 25th in AL
      wSL 21.4 – 1st in AL
      wCH 0.7 – 29th in AL

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  22. Dwight S. says:

    I’ve voted for Felix for basically the same reasons that have already been mentioned, his low ERA, high K total, low FIP, high IP etc. etc. On top of that he has been extremely consistent, I can’t even remember his last bad start.

    Aside from that I just want to say that I think people are giving the Cy voters too little of credit. Everybody seems to think that CC will win in a landslide because of his win totals but I think the voters are smarter than that now. Of course not all of them but I think majority of them are. Just look at Lincecum and Greinke last year. I think voters are actually wising up a bit.

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  23. ToMMy F BaBy says:

    Give it to CC. He is a large animal. He knows how to win and how to get the opponent out. Felix isn’t that good because if he was he’d obviously be on the Yankees by now. He should have known not to sign with the Marlins in Free Agency.

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  24. fren1 says:

    “crix says:
    September 10, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    everybody knows that felix is the better pitcher. even yankee fans know it. win total is the most rediculous stat to keep track of. cuz felix can give up 1 or 2 runs in 8 or 9 inn. and might lose. infact it’s happened several times this season cuz the m’s offense stinks. CC gives up 6 runs but wins cuz he got 8 runs of support.”

    Sabathia has won TWO ballgames where he’s given up 5ER in the last two seasons. Facts, etc.

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    • joe says:

      +1

      And worth repeating again because people continue with the lie of CC’s run support.

      Sabathia has ONE, UNO, 1 Win when allowing more than 3ER…His other 18 wins are when he has given up 3ER or less… obviously ‘cheap’ wins driven by run support, eh?

      Henandez has obviously been hurt by his teams run support, but for those continuing to spew the fallacy that CC’s win total is a product of run support, try looking at his game logs. He’s also lost 2 wins when his bullpens blew 4 run leads for him and had a win snatched away due to a rain delay (he had 4.2 shutout innings but was pulled due to the long delay). CC could have 21-22 wins at this point.

      That said Hennandez has been the better pitcher but can we knock out this ridiculous CC run support nonsense (Liriano has virtually the same aggregate run support to show how meaningless the aggregate stuff is).

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      • James says:

        Then would it be fair to point out the teams that CC has had to pitch against this season? Baltimore 5 times, Seattle 3 times, Oakland 3 times, Cleveland 2 times, and Kansas City 2 times. Hardly potent offenses in those 15 starts (of his 30 on the season). In fairness he has played the Sox 4 times and Tampa 3 times but he hasn’t played the Jays this season. Not a great thing to look at but it plays a factor, especially since he is 2-2 against the Sox and Rays and since he is 11-3 against those 15 teams with average to below average offenses. Not saying wins and losses are still a good stat but if you can say his record isn’t due to high run support you can say it was due to facing weaker teams and beating up on them.

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      • joe says:

        It would be fair to point out whatever you want…

        THE POINT REMAINS CC’s win total is not a function of run support as people will have you believe… that is all I’ve ever said and people twist this into an endorsement of CC for CY Young or a need to point out a negative statistic elsewhere.

        I know people want to turn this into a SABR thing and why CC shouldn’t win the CY Young – all I’m saying is that the argument that his win total is a function of run support is both lazy and wrong. This then turns into the next tangent of why wins are not a good measure of a pitcher or how he has beat up on poor teams, as if I have somehow said something to the contrary.

        BTW -The Jays are 7th in the AL in runs scored (behind the White Sox) – sure they hit a lot of HR’s but is that how you define potent offense?

        And in the 7 starts against TB/BOS he’s given up more than 3ER exactly once (his bullpen and rain cost him a couple of wins or he’d be 4-2).

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      • dw says:

        You fail to mention that Sabathia also has two NDs in which he gave up more than 3 ER. So three starts where Sabathia gave more than 3 ERs and didn’t come away with a loss.

        Felix Hernandez, as of this writing, has three starts where he gave up more than 3 ERs. Total.

        And really, you should be looking at middle of the chart, not the extremes. In 9 starts in which Sabathia has given up exactly 3 ERs, he’s 5-2. In 5 starts where Felix has given up 3 ERs, he’s 0-3. In the 4 starts where Sabathia has given up 2, he’s 3-1. In Felix’s 8 2 ER starts, he’s 2-3.

        So, yes, it’s hyperbole to say that Sabathia is getting wins despite pitching poorly. But the point is that Felix Hernandez is pitching far better and has fewer wins because the Mariners are scoring 3.23 runs a game while the Yankees are scoring 5.6.

        No American League team has scored 3.23 runs a game or less since 1972.

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  25. DownwiththeDH says:

    Too early. The most important part of the season is just starting.

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  26. Jaybow says:

    You’re kidding me. Look at the winners the last few years. I know the “no one gets advanced statistics! Uneducated fools!” orgy is fun but you need to get over yourselves.

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    • Anthony says:

      19-16 = 3 win difference.

      19 (Or 20-21) – 10 (Or 11-12) = 7-11 win difference.

      As much as people would like to believe Greinke and Lincecum won because of people accepting more advanced statistics, I highly doubt Greinke would have won if his ERA were equal to Felix’s last year but their WARs and everything else stayed the same. And Lincecum got votes because his strikeout rate was monstrous, not because he had a better-looking FIP and xFIP. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

      Most of these guys voting still DO look at traditional stats – but they’re giving more weight to things like strikeouts and ERA than they are wins. Stuff more advanced than that, though? Other than maybe WHIP, it’s probably all irrelevant.

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  27. gu03alum says:

    I listen to the baseball today podcast and have always considered Eric Karabell to be much smarter than the average baseball media. He refuses to even consider Felix for the award because of his low win total. I’m worried that if a guy like Karabell can be that simple-minded is the media that votes for the award really as enlightened as some of you think.

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    • Locke says:

      Dave repeatedly says they are getting smarter… I suppose that means they could be a 25 in baseball statology instead of a 20.

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    • Luke in MN says:

      I’ve heard this too. His logic seems to be that wins shouldn’t matter at all, except you have to have a certain number (15 or so) to even qualify for consideration. It’s just basically an argument based on tradition I guess.

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  28. BGriffith says:

    Felix Hernandez. I don’t really know whether FIP based or RA based WAR is better, so I try to look at them both.

    Hernandez:
    FIP – third in league, trails Liriano by .2 WAR
    ERA – first in league, leads by .9 WAR

    If I give these equal weight, Hernandez wins by quite a bit.

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  29. Eric says:

    Here are some numbers that interest me a lot in the discussion :

    13.42/3.5/3.48; .73/.57/.21; .286/.311/.341; 77.7/66.9/74.1

    The first is K/BB, the second is HR/9, the third is BAABIP, and the fourth is LOB%

    So, I’m curious how we think the ballparks, defenses, and luck have affected these numbers, whether we’re giving credit or taking credit away from Felix in our Cy Young calculations for his BAABIP and LOB%, (likewise for Liriano with his HR/9) and what exactly it should mean for us in Fangraphs to award our Cy Young to one of these American League pitchers…

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  30. Cheese Whiz says:

    As a Mariners fan I fell in love with the way Lee pitched. He was always in the strike zone and he worked fast, he was simply a joy to watch. If you had asked at the all-star break, I would have voted for him in a heartbeat…. except that he missed the first month of the season.

    Now there is probably some home team bias, but I’m going have to vote for Felix. His IP advantage over Lee and Liriano is what seals the deal for me. There’s still enough time for things to change though.

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  31. OremLK says:

    Don’t know how to pick. My bias toward K/BB tends to have me leaning toward Lee, I guess.

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  32. Kris says:

    Splitting the difference between Fangraphs WAR and Sean Smith WAR could address some of the “predictive value vs. on field results” concerns some people have about using WAR and other advanced metrics. For reference, here are the averages of B-ref WAR and Fangraphs WAR for some contending pitchers:

    5.8 – Hernandez
    5.4 – Liriano
    4.8 – Lee
    4.8 – Weaver
    4.2 – Price
    4.0 – Sabathia
    4.0 – Buchholz

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    • Eric says:

      Does this work to just average the two together or is it better to look at them side by side? I’m actually not as familiar with Sean’s WAR as I should be perhaps…

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  33. Noseeum says:

    Exactly what Randy said. All of the X stats disappear when voting comes around. It doesn’t matter if I expected you to post a 3 ERA when you posted a 5.5. Whether it was bad luck or not your ERA stinks.

    I might look at FIP but for me, ERA is still very important. It’s what happened that matters, not what “should” have happened.

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    • Aaron says:

      ERA may be a measure of what happened, but it’s not a good measure of what happened that the pitcher controlled. ERA is a measure of factors controlled by the pitcher, the defense, the official scorer, the ballpark, and the opposing players.

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  34. Max says:

    I think Felix is probably the best pitcher in the league, but I have a hard time not giving it to the guy with the greatest K/BB of all time.

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  35. Red Sox fan, long time champion of Buchholz.

    I voted Felix. Didn’t think twice about it.

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  36. Wally says:

    Yeah, I’m leaning Felix as the WARs for Felix, Lee and Liriano is basically the same. But Felix is dominating WPA. I would usually lean to rewarding the guy that demonstrated the most talent using IP and FIP or xFIP, but if those are a wash I’ll go with WPA.

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  37. shoewizard says:

    I was just looking at leverage splits for CC, Liriano, Lee and Felix. The first thing to note is that CC, Liriano and Lee all only have 9 or 10 IP in “High Leverage”. Felix has 16. I think in looking at leverage stats, you really need to look more at the diff between low and medium, but take the hi into account somewhat, just for shits and grins.

    the numbers are FIP-xfip-BABIP

    CC
    Low 3.71-3.90-.309
    Med 3.67-3.87-.266
    Hi–2.38-3.37-.293

    OK, so not surprisingly, CC has pitched better when it’s counted the most in High Lvg, but virtually the same in Low and Med levg.

    Liriano
    Low 2.15-2.89-.345
    Med 2.63-3.21-.332
    Hi–1.94-2.87-.373

    Yeah….Liriano has been better in Hi Levg situations than any other time, and by a considerable margin, but clearly the ridiculousness that is his BABIP has been especially exacerbated in those Hi leverage situations. He’s been better in Low lvg than Med levg by a considerable margin, but still very good in those med levg situations. Interesting to note that with all the GB he is inducing this year he has only gotten 12 GBDP, which works out to 8% of GB OPP per BB-Ref. If he were getting league avg GBDP/OPP % of 11% it would have meant about 5 more DP’s for him. 5 More DP’s would have helped for sure……tough to say how much though without knowing the situations.

    Lee
    Low 2.94-3.55-.308
    Med 2.33-2.85-.308
    Hi–2.42-3.75-.350

    Lee has been excellent in Med & High Lvg situations in FIP, but probably FlyB lucky in those Hi levg situations based on xFIP, if you figure he should have given up more HR.

    Felix

    Low 3.48-3.39-.350
    Med 2.60-3.16-.256
    Hi– 3.04-3.16-.195

    Much better in med and hi levg situations than Low lvg situations. BABIP drop as game gets more difficult is noteworthy.

    Probably a pointless exercise posting this stuff…….I was just looking for possible evidence that CC is doing something that maybe Liriano, Lee and Felix aren’t when it comes to the “stickier” game situations. I didn’t find it here.

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  38. Saga says:

    To me, it’s either Felix or CC. And it’s probably going to be CC because of the wins and the innings pitched. That and his peripheral numbers don’t look bad at all.

    (If it wasn’t about the wins, Felix hands down.)

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  39. pft says:

    I don’t understand the lobbying for Liriano. He has given up 1 run per game more than King Felix and much fewer innings. Including UER he is still behind (2.88 vs 3.24).

    CC and Cliff Lee have been horses but have given up more runs, and do not have the K rate that King Felix does. Remember, we are talking about results, not ability where theoretical runs allowed may come into play. If a pitcher is unlucky, tough cookie, forget about the Cy Young. Also, low K-rates require a larger contribution from your defense, and the true value of the defenses contribution is uncertain .

    Both CC and Liriano have a relatively high WHIP (1.21 and 1.24). These are not great numbers for a Cy Young candidate.

    I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Jered Weaver,

    Rank (overall)

    IP-4th
    K-1st
    K/9-2nd
    K/BB-2nd
    ERA-5th
    WHIP-3rd-T
    Qs%-4th

    Not saying he should win it but he should not be ignored.

    The one thing nobody mentions is the quality of opposition faced. Using BP’s quality of opp hitters OPS I find.

    Liriano-737
    Weaver-735
    Cliff Lee-732
    King Felix-729
    CC-714

    So the top 4 are all close, but CC somehow has had the easiest schedule (assuming these numbers are for hitters OPS this year and not last year)

    My vote still goes for King Felix. If we are talking MVP for pitchers, it probably goes to CC or Liriano, but we are not.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric says:

      If you want to talk about WHIP (an always deserving stat) here are the numbers for Lee/Hernandez/Liriano:

      Lee – 1.03 – #1 in league
      Hernandez – 1.09 – #3 in league
      Liriano – 1.24 – #24 in league

      Runs are a very important stat but are also dependant on defense and ballpark (and luck if you want to go there one way or the other in this context) so require a certain attentiveness. If we’re talking about who will win we should just go to ESPN.com and look at what Stark and company are saying (Felix or CC) but this is an exercice to talk about who should win. Should this be the pitcher who had the greatest effect on his teams winning? Should this be about discovering the pitcher whose “true value” is the greatest during a one year stretch? Something else? Just what does the Fangraphs Cy Young really mean to us?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • pft says:

        Lee and Hernadez have virtually the same WHIP, unlike Liriano which is much higher. Hernandez has a much higher K rate meaning he does not have to rely as much on defense as Lee, and they both pitched in the same home park for most of the season.

        You can’t focus all on one stat, but I would say runs are pretty important, followed by IP and K/9, then K/BB and WHIP..

        I like to use 2xR/9 + IP + K/9 + (K/BB + WHIP)/2. R/9, IP, etc are the ranking among qualified pitchers in these categories (1,2,3, etc). Last time I ran the numbers Hernandez won by a pretty good margin.

        Right now I have (only for the 6 listed)

        King Felix-14
        Weaver -20
        CC-48
        Lee-49
        Liriano-57
        Lester-58

        Too me it looks like a King Felix-Weaver race.

        Lee and Liriano did not pitch enough, and while Liriano had a nice K/9, his WHIP was high, and while Lee had a nice WHIP, his K/9 was relatively low. CC had a relatively low K/9 and high WHIP, but has been a workhorse. If Cy Young was pitcher MVP I might have to give it to him or Liriano, but it’s not.

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    • Luke in MN says:

      Thanks, Weaver deserved a mention. He’s tops in SIERA too I believe.

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  40. Noseeum says:

    Joe, I see what you’re saying RE CC’s win total but I think you’re maybe missing the point somewhat. It’s nit CC’s win total that’s strange. It’s Felix’s. CC has pitched great And his win totals are not atypical for the type of season he’s had in a contender.

    Felix has pitched incredibly good and his win totals are atypical for ANYONE with such stellar performance.

    DW drove it home. When CC gave up 3 ER or 2 ER he is 8-3. When Felix gave up 3 ER or 2 ER he is 2-6. 8-3 is not really lucky or unreasonable. 2-6 is completely unreasonable. The Mariners offense stinks!

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    • joe says:

      GOOD GRIEF.

      What point am I missing?

      Person a,b,c say CC’s win total is a function of above average run support… I reply specifically to that and point out this is complete bunk.

      You and others reinterpret this to mean I’m missing the point? I was merely responding to a ridiculous assertion that has no data to back it up. You chose to make this into a CC vs Hernandez thing… or that I somehow think Hernandez win total is fair?

      YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT (sorry for the caps, but I’m getting tired of people reinterpreting what I think or what I’m saying).

      - CC shouldn’t win the CY based on win totals.
      - Hernandez win total is low thanks to crappy run support (I have said this)
      - CC’s win total is NOT INFLATED due to this misperception of above average run support while ignoring the context of when he receives it.
      - I was merely responding to misinformation, not turning this into a CC vs Hernandez win total debate.

      Quite frankly this is what is wrong with the SABR community these days. They take a simple observation into an attack on some guy they support and feel the need to ‘inform’ folks or tell them how they are missing the point. Are you under the impression that I think CC should win the CY or he should have more wins then Hernandez? Can you point to any comment where I have implied this?

      PS – I voted for Hernandez. And thanks for driving my point home that CC win total IS NOT merely a function of luck or absurd run support… that’s all I was saying yet people want to start an argument because saying anything that puts CC in a favorable light in some respect = bad.

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      • noseeum says:

        Can someone get Joe a binky? Wah.

        How the heck else are points supposed to get sharpened, laid out better other than through continued dialogue? How about you get off your high horse and just talk?

        I helped you to make your point more discernible to the people reading these comments, and you b*tch about it. Sheesh.

        If you’re getting tired of misinterpretations, perhaps you should consderi writing more effectively. It tends to work better than CAPS or whining.

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      • hank says:

        Look all I was saying was CC’s win totals are not propped up by run support as some here have said. Apparently this is too confusing for you to follow.

        So translated into nosseum speak: it is some sort of advocacy of CC for Cy Young, other stats must be trotted out to support Hernandez since apparently dispeling a myth on run support is some sort of advocay of CC — you sure this is my writing issue or your (and others) inability to read?

        I voted for Hernandez (he has been the better pitcher)… though I don’t see why people feel the need to trot out lazy and unfounded arguments like CC’s win total being a product of run support.

        Way to keep it classy by the way… when you don’t like the message attack the messenger.

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  41. pft says:

    Looking at the teams CC has faced. He has faced good hitting teams (750+ OPS) in 8 games, while King Felix has faced such teams 13 games (Bos, NYY x 3, Tex 4, MIN x 2, CWS x 2, Det x 2). Cc faced Boston 4 times, but twice early in the season when BOS could not hit it’s way out of a paper bag, and a 3rd time when the Red Sox were without Youkilis and Pedroia.

    CC has also faced more weak hitting teams (OPS sub 710 OPS) than King Felix (13 to 7). He faced Sea x 3, Bal x 5, Oak x 3, Cle x 2.

    In any CC vs King Felix debate, CC is the loser, unless you treat W’s as worth anything in this day and age when even the best SP’ers need bullpen help for 3-9 outs.

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  42. Eric says:

    I think that two stats that should be given more attention here are Innings Pitched and K/BB (or divide this up into Innings pitched, K/9 and BB/9 if you want)

    Innings Pitched [Lee/Liriano/Hernandez]:
    184.1/172.1/219.1

    K/BB
    13.42/3.5/3.4 (or 7.86/9.50/8.58 and 0.59/2.72/2.46 if you prefer)

    These two stats don’t give you the whole picture or a clear answer but they seem like a natural place to start.

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  43. EP says:

    Felix has yielded only 1 earned run since August 5. 6 starts. He won the game with that run but lost a game without giving up an earned run. I suppose if he was a WINNER he would have figured out a way to win that one too. The great ones always do, or so I hear. (I’m hoping his solution involves a robotic arm, not unlike Inspector Gadget, that allows him to play defense for himself)

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  44. BFR says:

    no love for Cahill?

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  45. Lee Panas says:

    I’d give it to Hernandez without hesitation. Sabathia has had a great season, but has not compared to Hernandez. Many have mentioned Lee and Liriano because of their FIP stats. I don’t think that’s enough for the Cy Young though. I don’t think runs allowed can be taken out of the equation in Cy Young voting and Hernandez wins there even after attempting to adjust for ballpark. If you weigh FIP stats and runs allowed, you could make a case for either of the three. The clincher for me is innings pitched. Hernandez has a significant edge there and that’s important.

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  46. Eric says:

    This situation at first reminded me of the NL in 2002. It was the year after the Diamondbacks had dramatically beaten the Yankees thanks to co-MVP’s Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson but after a season in which each again approached double digits in WAR there couldn’t be a co-Cy Young.

    Some of the numbers [Schilling/Johnson]: 259.1/260 Innings Pitched, 3.23/2.32 ERA, 2.4/2.66 FIP, 9.58/4.7 K/BB, .313/.300 BABIP, 74.5/83 LOB%, 40.8/46.9 GB%

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=nl&qual=y&type=1&season=2002&month=0

    Johnson wins the mainstream Cy Young by a landslide receiving all 32 first place votes but I think I would argue that Curt Schilling would have been our Fangraphs Cy Young. Now, there are a few enormous differences between the 2002 NL and 2010 AL seasons and these respective Cy Young races namely the WAR difference (9.7/8.7) but if you look at what a pair of Mariners teammates did together up until a trade in the beginning of July and what they have done afterwards I have a feeling we might see a similar story at seasons end. Up until July it seemed clear to me watching Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez side to side who was the Mariners Cy Young but of course July and August did happen, Lee really did give up 27 ER’s these last 5 starts. By my calculations (and by WAR’s although, we could also just call this a tie) I still would choose Lee today but this discussion has made me take a second look at Felix and all those innings pitched. I think there is a real chance that Felix will continue to go nuts, that Lee is hurt or just can’t pitch the same in Texas but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Lee and Felix going forward look more like the Lee and Felix of their first 19 or so games. If that’s the case our Fangraphs Cy Young really could look something like 2002 and if that happens I’m still giving Lee the pitcher a lot of credit for his K/BB and not giving Felix much for his LOB% or BAABIP (re: regressing).

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  47. anonymous says:

    So Dave Cameron thinks Josh Hamilton is “running away” with the MVP award? How are his stats *that much* better than Miguel Cabrera’s?

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    • BrettJMiller says:

      Yes

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      • NEPP says:

        OPS+

        Hamilton: 176
        Cabrera: 182

        Offensively it doesn’t really seem like a runaway. Of course, Hamilton contributes more with his glove but its still not a huge runaway as you’re making it out to be.

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    • hank says:

      Look at bseball reference.com WAR and Cabrera I think has Hamilton edged 6.5 to 6.0 WAR.

      The reason it’s a “runaway” on this site is the dependence on UZR and it’s use in WAR. Given the variability in one year UZR #’s, I’m not sure how folks can be so dependent on WAR. I’d say Hamilton clearly has an edge but I don’t get the runaway assessment either.

      Then there’s also the question of UZR’s effectiveness with first baseman, where Mark Teixera is currently the 2nd worst first baseman in the AL this year, apparently worse than even Cabrera.

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  48. Avi says:

    Unfortunately, too much emphasis is placed on the last 3 starts in September, not the season as a whole. Cliff Lee has cooled off, but the historic BB/K ratio makes me want to take him over CC (even as a dedicated Yankee fan).

    Looking at their basic peripherals-
    CC – 30 Starts (2 CG) – 66 BB / 170 K
    Lee – 24 Starts (7 CG) – 12 BB / 161 K

    I believe Cliff Lee should be recognized for his amazing year, with his nearly unmatchable command and ability to pitch deep into games. However, Felix Hernandez is also worthy of it, and at the end of the day will likely win.

    The bottom line is that any way you slice it – CC should not win the Cy Young over either Cliff Lee or Felix Hernandez. In addition, Cliff Lee has been, in my opinion, unappreciated this season. With CC’s run support and a little bit more luck with his health, he could’ve run away with the Cy Young Award.

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    • NEPP says:

      Lee has more than just “cooled off” since his trade to Texas. He’s been mediocre there over 11 starts now. He had a great start and came back to earth. Amazing command doesn’t win you a Cy Young.

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      • Eric says:

        Oh, I don’t know a lot of strange things can happen in a small sample size, maybe we can learn more from looking at his entire season?

        Or, alternately if we want to talk about luck and true talent level how impressive is it that after these last few starts (when perhaps we could say that Lee and Hernandez have each rolled off stretches on opposite sides of their “true talent level”) that we can still make an argument for Lee?

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  49. Gorn says:

    Why no love for John Lester? His numbers are almost as good, yet he has to pitch at Fenway and regularly against the 1st, 2nd, and 6th best offenses (from a RS point of view – 1,2, and 5 from wOBA) in the AL. I guess he must of missed a start or two.

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  50. JP says:

    CC Sabathia is a Yankee, therefore he will get the award.
    Its not right, but its what happens.

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  51. khup says:

    You guys are going to be disheartened by this quote from Zack Greinke, who last year made everyone aware of his FIP fandom.

    “Felix is almost leading in everything,” Greinke said. “But CC is right behind him in innings (225 2/3 to 209) and has the wins. That’s pretty much the two most-important (stats): Innings and wins.”

    http://www.kansascity.com/2010/09/12/2217929/sabathia-or-hernandez-greinke.html

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  52. Ian says:

    This is a stats-centric site, yet Cahill (2.1 WAR) is listed as an option, but not Verlander (5.0 WAR, tied for 5th with Lester, 0.1 behind Weaver)? Not saying that Verlander deserves the vote (I voted Liriano – I believe that it’s one thing to pitch in a pennant race, another thing to pitch when the games don’t matter, hence no Hernandez this year, and no Greinke last year). But Verlander should have been an option over Cahilll and Wilson, at least.

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  53. Jeff Wise says:

    I really believe that Felix Hernandez deserves the award despite the Mariners poor record. If they could hit he would have 20 wins this year no problem.

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