The BBWAA Has Already Passed The Litmus Test

In two hours, the American League Cy Young Award winner will be announced, but the story will be less about the pitcher who takes home the trophy and more about the people who cast their ballots. With Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia as the presumed top two candidates, this vote is being seen as a referendum on Win-Loss record and a litmus test for how far the BBWAA has come in their acceptance of sabermetric thinking.

In reality, though, I think the members of the BBWAA have already proven just how far they’ve come, and today’s vote shouldn’t change our perspective all that much. The award will be based on the ballots of just 28 individuals, and with a weighted points system that gives as much credit for one first place vote as a second and a third place vote combined, it wouldn’t take more than one or two swing voters giving Sabathia a first place vote and leaving Hernandez off the ballot entirely to keep Felix from winning.

Do we really want to judge the progress of the mainstream media based on the decisions of a small handful of people? We cry small sample size whenever these writers try to evaluate a player based on weeks or months of a single season- we should apply the same principle here. The fact that Hernandez is considered the favorite to win the award is a big step forward.

Six years ago, we had a similar race between Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson in the National League, where Johnson was easily superior to Clemens in everything but W-L record (and really, in that case, it was losses, as Clemens only had 18 wins to Johnson’s 16), and Clemens ran away with the award. He got 23 first place votes to Johnson’s eight.

Five years ago, Bartolo Colon won the award in the American League by winning 21 games, despite Johan Santana out-pitching him across the board. Santana was only credited with 16 wins, however, and got just three first place votes. Colon got 17.

Today, we’re not going to see that same kind of discrepancy. If Sabatahia wins the award, it will almost certainly be by a narrow margin. With just a few holdouts, the consensus from writers around the country without votes has been to favor Hernandez. In ESPN’s poll of 74 contributors, 62 voted for Felix. They ran an accompanying video segment where Jayson Stark explained why Hernandez should win, complete with a graphic showing Hernandez’s WPA and WAR.

Regradless of the outcome of the Cy Young Award, the BBWAA has made huge strides in the quality of their work over the last few years. We should not judge them solely based on the opinions of a few of their members, but rather on the larger body of work. Sabathia winning the award would not be a rejection of modern thinking – it would just mean that the guys who ended up with ballots this year probably weren’t a representative sample of the larger population.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Bill@TPA
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

“We cry small sample size whenever these writers try to evaluate a player based on weeks or months of a single season – we should apply the same principle here.”

This is a great point.

yujrfgh
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yujrfgh
5 years 8 months ago

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Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
5 years 8 months ago

Why are the top 2 leaders in AL WAR, Cliff Lee & Justin Verlander, nowhere to be found? Truly a misguided favorites race, Felix was right behind Verlander, but Lee outshined them both by nearly a full win over replacement player.

Steve
Guest
Steve
5 years 8 months ago

Maybe b/c WAR isn’t the end all be all tool for evaluating players? Especially when retrospectively evaluating pitchers?

Maybe b/c if you go to bb-ref, and look at their interpretation of WAR, you’ll find King Felix on top of the AL and Lee or Verlander no where in the top 10, and so if the SABR-community can’t even agree on who is the WAR leader why on earth would a beat writer base his vote on it?

King Felix lead the league in IP and ERA. I am all for advanced stats, but sometimes the answer really is the easy one.

philkid3
Member
5 years 8 months ago

I think this is a good example for why Lee maybe shouldn’t win it. I don’t think it’s one for why he shouldn’t even be in the discussion.

Forrest Gumption
Member
Forrest Gumption
5 years 8 months ago

Well one stat that isnt as under fire as WAR is FIP, and I truly believe that to be the real mark of the best pitcher, the best pitcher is the one that simply beats the hitter, with little reliance on his defenders. Lee & Verlander had lower FIPs than Felix, and Liriano and Lee bested Felix in xFIP. Conversely, Felix had a much lower BABIP than Lee, Liriano & Verlander

Felix Hernandez was simply not the best best pitcher in the AL this year, Cliff Lee was, and arguably Verlander and Liriano too. For all the “breakthrough” in ignoring Felix’s W-L record, we still are a long way away from actually rewarding the actual best pitcher in the league.

Steve
Guest
Steve
5 years 8 months ago

Conversely, Felix had a much lower BABIP than Lee, Liriano & Verlander

So what?

Isn’t the award for what actually happened? No one gets the CY for “most likely to be able to repeat their performance based on solid peripherals”.

I get that there are different arguments you can make for guys like Lee and Verlander, but the certainty with which you declared Lee better than Felix is every bit as obnoxious and rigid as the guys who vote based on Win totals.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 8 months ago

“Isn’t the award for what actually happened? No one gets the CY for ‘most likely to be able to repeat their performance based on solid peripherals’.”

Amen, Steve. I can’t believe how divorced from reality some statheads can get.

If I want to take a look at who might win next year’s Cy Young, I’m going to take a hard look at FIP. If I want to vote based on what happened this year, it’s ERA.

I don’t care if it’s luck, skill, bad defense or spitballs. If you give up a ton of runs, you gave up a ton of runs. It doesn’t matter if it’s because the BABIP was higher than expected or your FIP is awesome, or your stand rate is higher than expected. Either way, the runs scored or they didn’t.

This is much simpler than many make it out to be. I mean, seriously, Results matter, and FIP leaves way too much off the table to reflect what actually occurred in a game.

Garrett
Guest
Garrett
5 years 8 months ago

Amen to the posters above. BABIP, FIP, etc. should be left out of the discussion.

philkid3
Member
5 years 8 months ago

The problem isn’t arguing leaving them off the table, something I think I agree with.

The problem is dismissing those who don’t.

todmod
Guest
todmod
5 years 8 months ago

Well as has been discussed here before, despite this being fangraphs, there is a lot of debate over WAR as an end-all value measurement of a pitcher’s performance in a season. A lot of data not used if that’s all you’re looking at.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

The debate is not over WAR, but what % FIP, ERA, RA, BABIP should count.

IMO, we don’t know what % of each aspect the pitcher influences. We have only begun to scratch the surface in regards to pitch data, batted ball influence, batted ball velocity, etc.

FIP does what it what it does. Whether it measures the “best” pitcher or not is highly debatable.

FIP would be IT is baseball were played in a batting cage, where it was only batter and pitcher, but it’s not. Just like football is not just quarterback versus defensive back.

Plus, it’s not like a good team defense turns an average pitcher into a CYA candidate. Let’s be realistic about it. All of the guys being considered are good to great pitchers, we’re just trying to figure out which one had the best season … and using different metrics to do so.

I have NO idea why anyone would be so self-limiting by relying on a single metric, even a complex one.

Cardinal70
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

When I started the voting with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I expected there would be considerable differences between bloggers and writers.

However, last year the two sides agreed on everything but NL ROY and so far this season, only the AL MOY has been different.

I agree, they’ve made strides, probably because their membership is getting younger as well.

Bill@TPA
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

Although part of that, honestly (& no disrespect to you or the BBA), is that the BBA has a lot of bloggers who aren’t really the type the MSM thinks of when the word “blogger” comes up. Just fans who still really like W and HR and RBI and all that and like writing stuff about their favorite team. Or at least that’s my impression from taking part in the voting and reading some of the “ballot” posts.

Blue
Guest
Blue
5 years 8 months ago

Shorter: Murry Chase being an ignorant Luddite doesn’t mean the whole profession sucks.

Murray Chase
Guest
Murray Chase
5 years 8 months ago

Oh thank you.

(psst what is a luddite?)

lieiam
Guest
lieiam
5 years 8 months ago

please don’t insult the luddites by comparing them to murray chass’s idiocies!

dutchbrowncoat
Member
dutchbrowncoat
5 years 8 months ago

not sure if anyone else saw this, but i was watching espn over lunch and they were discussing the cy young and they gave an explanation of xFIP and why it was a useful.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 8 months ago

On MLB network the likes of Barry Larkin and Billy Ripkin were yelling and Harold Reynolds to stop looking at wins as a measurement for the CY Young award because wins are a team stat and the pitcher can’t really control them.

t ball
Guest
t ball
5 years 8 months ago

The fact that there has been so much discussion is really the victory to me, no matter who actually wins. The conversation has been greatly expanded meaning the media has a better idea of how to value and discuss players. Progress.

Danmay
Guest
Danmay
5 years 8 months ago

Agreed

Ken
Member
Member
Ken
5 years 8 months ago

Felix won

Choo
Member
5 years 8 months ago

We won.

Danmay
Guest
Danmay
5 years 8 months ago

Wow a bit pretentious, what did we do…

Choo
Member
5 years 8 months ago

It was meant to be sarcastic, but the codicil was deleted before I clicked submit. “Viva La Nerds” or something along those lines.

Still, we totally won. Good job everybody.

Locke
Guest
Locke
5 years 8 months ago

Wow, now that was both pretentious and douchey

Choo
Member
5 years 8 months ago

Totally douchey and even more pretentious than before? I am on fire today.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

this vote is being seen as a referendum on Win-Loss record and a litmus test for how far the BBWAA has come in their acceptance of sabermetric thinking.

How many years are we going to say this?

I thought the litmus test was the Lincecum-Grienke year, when both award winners did not lead the league in wins.

Actually, based on comments here and at other SABR sites, I expected the league leader in wins to win the award almost every year. But, not only do they not win the awrad every year, I’d say they don;t win most years.

What is rare is for the ERA and/or K leader to not win. K’s seem to be the award that media love the most. Given that not allowing contact is often a key to pitching, perhaps that’s a good thing.

THE litmus test is when a guy with 13 wins and great peripherals wins the award over someone with 24 wins and average secondary stats.

So far, IMO, we have either [1] created a strawman situation regarding W-L (the win leaders doesn’t usually win the award), or [2] celebrated perceived “victories” (i.e., a guy with 16 wins beating a guy with 19 wins for the award).

Anyway, the “reality” of the voting when lok at the results does not seem to match the perceived voting as it is represented here.

I’d beign by asking 3 questions …

[1] What % of league leaders in wins win the CYA?
[2] What % of league leaders in ERA win the CYA?
[3] What % of league leaders in K’s win the CYA?

* Does not prove causation, but likely a storng correlation.

My guess is leading in 2 of the 3 virtually guarantees the CYA.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

My speed typing is horrible. Bad me.

Los
Guest
Los
5 years 8 months ago

How about when Zito beat out Pedro? Zito was 23-5 and Pedro was 20-4. So Pedro even had a better winning%. Pedro led in everything else.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

Does one exception nullify a general trend?

No, it does not.

Couldn’t Pedro be used as an example AGAINST what you’re stating? He won 3 CYA but only led the league in wins once.

There will always be an exception to a general statement, not because the general statement is wrong, but because there is no general statement that is both all-encompassing and accurate.

Temo
Member
Temo
5 years 8 months ago

It appears to me that you’re the one creating a straw-man here. No one’s saying that win leaders have always won the award. The argument has always been that looking at Win-Loss record is close to meaningless, and yet it’s kept some deserving candidates from winning in past years.

So measuring % of league leaders in wins that win the CYA is not the issue. Instances like Pedro in ’97 (17-8, 1.90 ERA) winning over Denny Neagle (20-5, 2.97 ERA) and Greg Maddux (19-4, 2.20 ERA) happen all the time: since Pedro was only 2-3 wins behind and had an absurd K-total/ERA, he won.

But if Pedro was 13-8, would he have won? If Pedro was still 17-8, but Maddux was 21-2, would he have won, with the same other stats? Most probably not.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 8 months ago

I think Dave makes a great point here but I think the sample size comparison isn’t quite accurate. We cry small sample size when arbitrary small samples are cited (i.e. first month of the season, etc.) but in the case of the BBWAA the sample is not arbitrary – they’re supposed to be among the best, brightest writers in the country, not 28 randomly selected journalists. So I think we should expect more from these 28 journalists than any 28 journalists.

Undocorkscrew
Guest
Undocorkscrew
5 years 8 months ago

To be fair, you don’t even have to use sabermetrics to determine that Hernandez was the best starting pitcher in the AL. Just use his ERA, innings, CG’s, K’s, BB, WHIP, BAA, OBP, and SLG.

jim
Guest
jim
5 years 8 months ago

Felix gave up 17 unearned runs. That’s about twice as many as most SP with 200+ IP. I wonder how many voters would have voted for him if half of those runs were actually counted as earned? I’m fine with him winning, but I think the ERA number could have put him over the top when maybe that wouldn’t have been such a factor if an error here or there would have been ruled a hit. Say his ERA was 2.60 (only 8 of those 17 were unearned) – so instead of almost 1 run lower than CC his ERA was only 0.6 runs lower. I think this would have made the vote a lot closer. especially if people consider stadiums.

Like it or not ERA or RA and WHIP and show what a pitcher actually gave up during the year, combine that with numbers of innings and we can see how many runs the pitcher was involved in giving up, not what he theoretically should have given up. I think if I were voting I would tend to look at what he actually gave up in the context of the park/team, and if things looked really close, I would look at the theoretical values FIP.xFIP…. to help see which pitcher was more dominant. And if everything still looks to close to call – I would look at wins (hahaha, I joke).

SOB in TO
Guest
SOB in TO
5 years 8 months ago

Um, Felix’s Mariner teammates gave up 17 unearned runs. That and a lack of run support leads to a bad looking W-L record, which, really, is as irrelevant these days for a pitcher as RBI is for a batter.

Anywho…
I think the major difference these days, versus, say 2001, is that word is getting out a lot earlier on ESPN and other networks and web sites as to which pitchers need to be considered despite their crappy old-school stats.

Locke
Guest
Locke
5 years 8 months ago

Should’ve been Lee.

Danmay
Guest
Danmay
5 years 8 months ago

yah, if you ignore durability and those starts at the beginning of the year and the end of the year he missed.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
5 years 8 months ago

Yankee fans are blowing up the #CyYoung hash tag with “CC WUZ ROBBED” whines.

simply fred
Guest
simply fred
5 years 8 months ago

Felix Wins! Might raise the question, “Yeah, but who did he face?”

Against the AL East (7 GP, 57.1 IP; includes 3 vs. Yanks): he posted a

0.63 ERA (four earned in those 57.1 IP)

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

I think the better question in regards to imoprtance of perofrmance might be “Who cares?” or “What difference did it make?”

SEA would ahve finished in the same place without him as they did with him. So, who cares? His “great” season was insignificant in terms of the ultimate goals of baseball.

I don’t necessarily share that view, but the discussion does have merit … just as it did with Dawson’s MVP in 87 and ARod’s in Texas.

My personal view is that a number of guys “could” have won, and perhaps “should” have one. There’s no arguing that Felix is not deserving of the award, but there is some debate on whether his season was the best or whether his season was the most important/valuable.

maguro
Guest
maguro
5 years 8 months ago

The Cy Young goes to the best pitcher, period. If you want to reward the pitcher who had the most impact on a pennant race, that’s some other award.

SOB in TO
Guest
SOB in TO
5 years 8 months ago

More impressive: he never got to face the worst team in the league.

JayT
Guest
JayT
5 years 8 months ago

I think on a per inning basis Lee was slightly better then Felix, but when voting on the Cy Young, I think that innings pitched should play a very big factor. When comparing Lee to Hernandez, I think you have to compare Hernandez versus Lee + 40 innings of relievers, and even though Lee might have been better inning by inning, Hernandez obviously (in my mind at least) did more to help his team.

Diaz
Guest
Diaz
5 years 8 months ago

I think that King Felix was a defensible pick and I understand that some may feel that the award should have gone to Lee (that is how I felt- though I’m curious how his Fip is so much lower than his XFIP- strikes me as odd). But we should all be happy that its no longer 2002 when this line

20 w 4 L 199 IP 10.8 K/9 1.8 BB/9 .59 HR/9 2.26 ERA 2.24 FIP 2.58 XFIP and 8.3 WAR

lost to:

23 w 5 l 229 IP 7.15 K/9 3.06 BB/9 .94 HR/9 2.75 ERA 3.87 FIP 4.29 XFIP and 4.4 WAR

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
5 years 8 months ago

His xFIP is low, more than likely, because he plays in a ballpark that suppresses HR’s (FIP doesn’t adjust for this). Neither method is perfect, I still prefer FIP to xFIP myself.

I personally would’ve voted Felix/Lee/Liriano/Price.

Dave I
Guest
Dave I
5 years 8 months ago

I don’t see Felix as a Sabermetrics candidate, just a non-win candidate. He was 4th in FIP, 3rd in xFIP and 3rd in WAR, 7th in K/9, 14th in BB/9, 6th in HR/9.

By comparison, Lee finished 1st in FIP, 2nd in xFIP, 1st in WAR, 10th in K/9, 1st in BB/9 and 11th in HR/9. Lee got one 3rd place vote, one 4th and one 5th.

Liriano finished 2nd in FIP, 1st in xFIP, 4th in WAR, 2nd in K/9, 16th in BB/9 and 1st in HR/9. Liriano got one fifth place vote.

Verlander finished 3rd in FIP, 6th in xFIP, 2nd in WAR, 4th in K/9, 21st in BB/9 and 5th in HR/9. Verlander got one fifth place vote.

If you’re looking for a Sabermetric Revolution, this ain’t it.

Paul
Guest
Paul
5 years 8 months ago

Spot on Dave I,

while I do think DaveCam is right in that things have moved on the days of Clemens winning over RJ, Felix was not the SABR candidate, Lee was – Hell even Heyman pitched his lot in with Felix near the end of the season

Felix was a TRAD candidate (1 ERA, 2K, 1INN), its just that he has the anomoly of the odd WL record – which can easily be explained.

Lee is the guy who doesn’t look No.1 in any TRAD method, but apparently laps the field in fWAR – I like that this helps us to appreciate a great season by Lee, I like it less as the ‘end of story’ for rewarding pitching performance for the year

Now for me – I think Felix was the best pitcher this year, and 2010 shows that FIP leading to fWAR is not the end of the story for pitcher performance (not that i have anything better)

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 8 months ago

It looks more like a win for the narrative that was created around Hernandez rather than any real understanding of useful statistics.

Sabbathia appeared on every ballot.
Price appeared on all but one.

Verlander and Liriano each got only one vote (both 5th), only 3 voters thought Cliff Lee was one of the top 5 pitchers in the AL.

The Hernandez win is nice, but the voters showed they could be swayed by a narrative, not by any real interpretation of the data.

bill
Guest
bill
5 years 8 months ago

Honestly, the writers not caring about wins is a *huge* step in the right direction. At least innings pitched, ERA, and K’s are actually stats that show how good a pitcher is at something.

By the way – by BB-REF WAR, Hernandez was the best pitcher in the AL, so who says the writers weren’t looking at data? Maybe it’s just not the same data as us.

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 8 months ago

I’ve got no problem with Hernandez at the top of the ballot. But I still think this vote reflects the narrative, not the numbers.

From August on, we were bombarded with articles pointing out that Felix was pitching exceptionally, but not getting any run support (or wins). The voters were conditioned to understand that wins didn’t reflect performance in this case.

And it worked! They put Felix at the top of the ballot!

And then they went about the business of putting the top three finishers in AL wins in the next three spots.

The not caring about wins argument worked on the individual basis, but those results still show a strong bias for the W.

Dave
Guest
Dave
5 years 8 months ago

@Eric:
You’re argument is based completely on confirmation bias. You have no proof that the voters voted for Felix because of those articles, in fact some may have voted against him because of those articles.

Your proof that Felix won because of the articles is only backed by the fact that he did win, so it’s not an accurate argument.

hk
Guest
hk
5 years 8 months ago

This is the fifth straight year that the BB-REF WAR leader won the AL Cy Young and the NL BB-REF WAR winner won the award from 2006 (when Brandon Webb tied for the WAR lead) through last year. This year, Ubaldo Jimenez had a higher BB-REF WAR than Halladay.

Murray Chase
Guest
Murray Chase
5 years 8 months ago

Seems like a win for all the whiney bitchy Mariner fans — somewhat makes up for a 60 win season.

Orothar
Guest
Orothar
5 years 8 months ago

Yeah – that’s nice. Kick a team while they’re down. That’s big of you.

In the words of one of my favorite Mariners blogs: Felix is ours and you can’t have him.

Sam
Guest
Sam
5 years 8 months ago

FIP, xFIP, etc are very useful in determining how repeatable a pitcher’s performance is, but they don’t change what happened on the field. I could see having beef with ERA/IP in cases where a pitcher gave up large numbers of unearned runs or was frequently bailed out by his relievers, but I think it is important to understand the appropriate applications for advanced statistics. Incidentally, Felix gave up 63 ER and 80 R, so maybe he isn’t as deserving as it would initially appear, but *that* is where the case is, not “he got lucky on outcomes and is his ERA should have been higher and that other guy’s ERA should have been lower.” It didn’t shake out that way, and I don’t think you are going to convince most reasonable people that awards should be issued based on the statistically most likely outcome.

joe
Guest
joe
5 years 8 months ago

This seems like a fail for a SABR litmus test… it seems like the writers have traded wins for ERA.

Lee and Verlander not being in the top 5 is a MAJOR fail. And Cliff Lee not winning despite a better FIP and WAR, should make people be a little more careful about declaring this a victory. Price 2nd? I think people are reading what they want to see instead of objectively analyzing the results of the voting….

Maybe they gave Felix the award over Lee thanks to a better win total and better ERA?

Steve
Guest
Steve
5 years 8 months ago

No, it’s only a “major fail” if you think FANGRAPHS WAR is the preferred SABR stat, as opposed to the BB-REF WAR.

B/C Lee and Verlander were no where in the top 10 on BB-REF.

Seems to me like there are 2 different, and both have their different merits, philosophies to calculating pitcher WAR, one is based on FIP and one is not. But they lead to different answers.

I don’t see how we, as a “community”, can say that the votes were “right” or “wrong”, until we settle this issue.

So no, it’s not a “major” fail. Not at all. The stats are still evolving, and I think the “major fail” is from people who don’t realize that and take them as discussion ending FACTS.

Lee
Guest
Lee
5 years 8 months ago

Some of you drive me bonkers and likely many of you have never pitched in a game in your life. FIP is a great stat but striking out batters, not walking batters, and not allowing home runs does not define a pitcher. Any of you (like Joe above) who solely rely on FIP and Fangraphs WAR to define your “best pitcher” aren’t any better than BBWAA who rely heavily on wins and you don’t have a good grasp on the game.

What really defines a pitcher is the ability to not allow runs because that was my whole purpose when on the mound and is the purpose of every pitcher in a MLB uniform. Sometimes (especially when I was younger) I could strike out 10+ batters game, but even at a young age I realized that a good hitter will hit a good pitcher and their is nothing that pitcher can do about it. If the ball is in the strike zone it can be driven, and a good pitcher is someone who consistently gets out of those jams once a batter reaches base.

Sometimes that pitcher has a great pick-off move and slows does the running game. Sometimes they can bear down and hit their “spots” to induce weak contact or double plays. And sometimes they just get lucky and a line drive is hit at a fielder or the defense makes a great play.

In the end though, if I pitched 7 shut out innings, but allowed 8 hits, struck out 3 and walked 4, I am ECSTATIC and I (along with my defense) did a terrific job.

joe
Guest
joe
5 years 8 months ago

I’m strongly against using FIP, xFIP and WAR as measurements of past performance… these are rate stats meant (in my humble view) for prediction and an assessment of how likely results will continue to occur, not a measurement of past performance. I cringe every time I hear someone mistakenly say they eliminate luck and defense and are a true measurement of pitcher skill.

I just find it humorous that the SABR community is hailing this as a victory, when the 1 guy with better stats (namely FIP and WAR) and someone with marginally better stats than Felix were nowhere to be found on the voting results. If the voters were relying on SABR stats how were Price and Sabathia even in the top 5? How were Lee and Verlander not in the top5?

Felix won thanks to his microscopic ERA… not FIP, not WAR not HR/FB%. I think he was deserving not because of his SABR stats but because he allowed the fewest runs, was extremely consistent (something the rate stats virtually ignore), and threw a ridiculous amount of quality innings.

John
Guest
John
5 years 8 months ago

You say this, but in your first comment you specifically stated that Cliff Lee should have won because of a higher FIP and WAR. Way to contradict.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
5 years 8 months ago

And point is missed.

Point is, good luck sustaining that.
Protip: You won’t.

I washed out of baseball because I had a horrible batting eye. Once pitchers found out, I almost never saw a good pitch, and was running track before I knew it.

So, I don’t really know what you’re getting at here, because the next time you give up 8 hits and walk 4, you can just as easily give up 12 runs.

Lee
Guest
Lee
5 years 8 months ago

That’s true,

But next time I could also give up 1 run. And the next time 2 runs. And the next time another shut out.

And if I do this for the whole season and give up the fewest runs in baseball, well for that season I likely was the BEST pitcher in baseball.

Next year I may get lit up, my peripheral stats for this season might suck, but non of that matters. What matters is what actually happened, not what could happen in the future, end of story.

cs3
Guest
cs3
5 years 8 months ago

but who cares whos in the top 5…
isnt it more important who actually WON?
does anyone sit around discussing how great of a season a team had for finishing with the 5th best record in the AL when they didnt even win their division?
same thing applies here – in a week nobody will remember who came in second in the CYA voting, let alone 4th or 5th.

fwiw its pretty clear that Lee didnt get many votes because he missed a lot of time at the beginning of the season, and some more at the end which in conjunction with the number of innings Felix amassed is a legitimate argument

MikeD
Guest
MikeD
5 years 8 months ago

Well as it turned out, the BBWAA picked the right guy. I didn’t think CC had much of a chance as is. since there was a great deal of buzz around King Felix, who clearly had the best stats. Not to mention, as Baseball Prospectus has shown, there is a slight bias against BBWAA voting for NY Yankees, unless the player clearly crushes the field, as A-Rod did in the MVP voting in 2007.

Hank
Guest
Hank
5 years 8 months ago

I think Jayson Stark on ESPN had this right… ESPN is trying to play up the whole SABR angle but Stark said it was a rather clear choice simply using conventional statistics… Felix had clear leads in ERA and innings pitched and the only thing missing was wins.

This seems like a referendum on wins, folks thinking this is voters embracing SABR stats need to look at where Lee, Verlander, Liriano, Greinke finished. Price finished second why? Because voters are embracing SABR stats? Or that he had a pretty low ERA coupled with a lot of wins?

MikeD
Guest
MikeD
5 years 8 months ago

Agreed. It’s not a question of voters embracing sabermetrics, but there is certainly a greater awareness of advanced metrics in the general sports media. Pitcher wins has been on the sabermetric hit list for years, so this does show they are having an impact.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
5 years 8 months ago

and it’s not like King Felix didn’t pass the advanced-metric sniff test (he did, after all, lead the AL by a good margin in Rally WAR). I really haven’t had to stray too far to defend Hernandez’s selection, it’s all pretty clear.

Except to those screaming foul. Mostly Yankee fans that only care about the Yankees.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

IMO, this is a strawman that has been created to give the perception that sabermetrics are being used to determine important things.

I posted this at TT’s blog ….

Decade: # of Wins Leaders CYA / Total CYA

1967-79: 20/26
1980s: 12/20
1990s: 11/20
2000’s: 7/20

One could conclude that sabermetrics are taking hold …

or

… one could conclude that the voters simply prefer ERA and K’s to Wins … and have for almost 20 years.

Most likely due to the change to [1] 5-man rotations, and [2] increased bullpen usage.

SP’s are not as responsible for wins as they once were when they started every 4th day and pitched the whole game.

It might have NOTHING to do with advanced metrics. It could. It would be great. But, it doesn;t inherently mean it does.

Since the pitchers that are the hardest to hit, will very often have [1] high win totals, [2] low ERA, [3] high K’s, [4] low FIP, and [5] basically great secondary stats (OAA, OOBA, etc) … who can say precisely what criteria is used to select the award winner?

It could just as easily be ERA and K’s … like it has been for quite a while now.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

In ESPN’s poll of 74 contributors, 62 voted for Felix. They ran an accompanying video segment where Jayson Stark explained why Hernandez should win, complete with a graphic showing Hernandez’s WPA and WAR.

Why would they do that? Were they making a case for Cliff Lee or Justin Verlander?

Which WAR did they use? fWAR or rWAR?

IMHO, this is the same “wishful” thinking that took place the last 2 (now 3) years.

Grienke, Lincecum, Halladay, Felix, etc all had low ERA’s and A LOT of K’s.

It could have noting to do with advanced metrics. No way THAT many voters are using advanced metrics to select Felix, especially when some of the metrics listed point to other pitchers.

dw
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I think you’re picking a few nits here. The question at hand was whether Felix was more deserving than Sabathia, not whether Felix was by every measure the best in the league.

What happened is it all got conflated into this referendum on sabermetrics. And Tom Tango is right — this was all about whether wins was a valid measure of pitching quality, not about whether fWAR/rWAR are.

But the basic question wasn’t about that. It was about justifying voting for a 13-win pitcher over a 20-win pitcher, not about justifying voting for a 6 fWAR pitcher over a 7 fWAR pitcher.

Today isn’t about welcoming baseball writers to the 21st century, it’s about welcoming them to the 20th century and Henry Chadwick’s little formula.

Hank
Guest
Hank
5 years 8 months ago

Why was the 7 WAR pitcher (who also lead the league in FIP) not even in the discussion? Why wasn’t a guy with a better WAR and FIP then Felix also not in the discussion (Verlander)?

I can understand saying there is enough variability in the stats to choose Felix over say Lee or Verlander based on other factors (innings pitched, K’s, consistency, ERA, etc)…. but these other guys weren’t even in the discussion. It is hard to believe voters were actually looking at advanced stats when the leaders in some of these stats didn’t even get any votes (or few votes). Why was the 20 win pitcher even in the conversation?

To think this is anything other than ERA and innings pitched and K’s is hoping more than analyzing the voting results. Voters have gotten smarter about trading off wins vs ERA (and IP and K’s to a lesser extent) and that’s about it.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 8 months ago

Lee is only a 7 WAR pitcher using FG’s FIP-based WAR.

Rally’s WAR at baseball-reference.com (based on runs allowed, etc) has Lee as 4.3 WAR pitcher.

I prefer to average fWAR and rWAR, at this point (until we learn more), so even doing that Lee is a 5.5 WAR pitcher … which is less than Hernandez’s.

I do agree that, at most, we’re celebrating the voting not treating wins as THE most important thing, but they haven’t seemed to do that for osme time. They DO still love themselves some ERA and K’s … but those have traditionally been important pitching stats in regards to voting.

Sam
Guest
Sam
5 years 8 months ago

Hank:
FIP is limited because it assumes that all pitchers will give up an equal % of hits on ground balls, fly balls, pop ups, line drives, etc; actually, it doesn’t even do that, it just assumes all balls in play are created equally. Forgive me for not citing a specific study, but evidence has shown that the pitcher does bear substantial responsibility for turning batted balls into outs, extra base hits, etc. The advanced ERA metrics are all great tools for trying to project players, though they have their imperfections because they don’t distinguish between batted ball types and have no room for pitcher skill, which does exist. I am about as strong a proponent for advanced baseball stats as you can find, and I think it would be a huge mistake for voters to judge pitchers based on expected outcomes and not on actual outcomes. I think one needs to consider the quality of the data when analyzing advanced stats and not just take it as the holy grail. This WAR that you hold in such high regard does not take into account the fact that when a pitcher gives up more hits than expected it may be because they grooved a few too many fastballs, and it just assumes that they were unlucky. Given that the truth lies somewhere in between a pitcher having nothing and everything to do with outcomes on balls in play, your overreliance on WAR is just as bad as the baseball writers’ ignorance of it.

Ewing
Member
5 years 8 months ago

The BBWAA revealed the list of voters and which pitcher they listed first on their ballot. Here are the three guys that gave CC Sabathia a first place vote:

George King, New York Post; Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun; Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon Journal

The first name on that list stands out to me for the following reason:

“The MVP result was controversial, as Martinez received the most first-place votes of any player (8 of 28), but was totally omitted from the ballot of two sportswriters, New York’s George King and Minneapolis’ LaVelle Neal. The two writers argued that pitchers were not sufficiently all-around players to be considered. (However, George King had given MVP votes to two pitchers just the season before: Rick Helling and David Wells; King was the only writer to cast a vote for Helling, who had gone 20–7 with a 4.41 ERA and 164 strikeouts.)”

Yes, that’s right, the same illogical dipshit who left Pedro off his MVP ballot in 1999 also thought CC Sabathia was the best pitcher in the AL this year. I find this shocking. I’m not shocked because the guy simply voted for the pitcher with the most wins instead of doing ten minutes of actual research. No, I’m shocked because the stupid fuck is still employed and allowed to vote on these things

Jacques
Guest
Jacques
5 years 8 months ago

George King had some personal issues with Pedro. There was never any doubt about it.

MVP, on the other hand, is not to be compared with Cy Young. While Felix Hernandez certainly was the most dominant pitcher in 2010, I don’t think we can fault him for voting his local favorite.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
5 years 8 months ago

Sure we can, with a track record such as his.

Jay Levin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I basically agree. King doesn’t do things for logical reasons; that is the real track record. He voted his local favorite, as did Ocker, in a way, as he covered Sabathia up-close for eight years.

Jay Levin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I don’t think 28 professional baseball writers is a particularly small sample of all professional baseball writers.

Jacques
Guest
Jacques
5 years 8 months ago

It’s what makes the Cy Young award.

The best pitcher in the opinions of a group of baseball writers, who do just that; write about baseball.

Let’s just let those celebrate as they rightfully deserve, and keep our opinions to ourselves, whether you agree or disagree.

Jay Levin
Guest
5 years 8 months ago

I agree. I should stop blogging and we both should stop posting on forums. Everyone should just keep their opinions to themselves.

Seriously, WTF?

Barkey Walker
Guest
Barkey Walker
5 years 8 months ago

But… but the award is named after the all time wins leader. Until it is renamed the Walter Johnson award… we haven’t won.

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