Liriano Is Lost in the Cy Young World

Understanding that writers pen some articles purely for narrative is key. Jon Paul Morosi filed essentially a game report about the Rays/Yankees affair last night, framing the starting pitcher matchup as one of dueling Cy Young contenders. Nothing big to see here, but Morosi ropes Felix Hernandez into the mix so as to use a few quotes about how the Cy Young winner should come from a team in the playoff hunt performing well in games that matter.

If Morosi (and others) believe the latter requirement to be true, then their narrative should also expand its scope to include Francisco Liriano — who, like David Price and CC Sabathia, should shine as one of the game’s most excellent lefties on the postseason stage. Since the second half has begun – and let’s face it, if Liriano imploded afterwards, folks would say his season only excelled in the meaningless portions — Liriano has been better than his competitors. Even by old school means:

Liriano 10 GS, 7-0 W-L, 2.22 ERA, 2.95 SO/BB
Sabathia 12 GS, 7-3 W-L, 2.93 ERA, 2.78 SO/BB
Price 11 GS, 5-2 W-L, 3.28 ERA, 2.23 SO/BB

As many wins, lower ERA, and a better strikeout-to-walk ratio. Did these games matter? The Twins started the second half with a playoff probability just under 30% (according to CoolStandings.com) whereas Tampa Bay and New York had likelihoods over 75%. Three of Liriano’s post-break starts have come against the White Sox – the team battling Minnesota for the division crown – and he won each of them.

Liriano is not Ambrose Bierce. He is not getting lost in a revolutionary war between the ERA and FIP crowds because this season has all that and more. The innings gap is the only explainable reasoning for his absence; and even then, Liriano and Price’s innings totals are closer than Price’s and Sabathia’s. Small market, big payroll, fat stats, and a baby face; if everyone wants to give this award to a playoff-bound southpaw, why not give it to the one who combines the best aspects about Price and Sabathia’s stories?

We hoped you liked reading Liriano Is Lost in the Cy Young World by R.J. Anderson!

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Erik
Guest

Great stuff.

As a Twins fan, it boggles my mind how Liriano continues to get overlooked when people discuss the Cy Young Award.

It is all about the AL East, as usual, I guess.

James
Guest
James

Head to head, Price leads Liriano in wins, innings, ERA, adjusted ERA… and in some WAR formulas (like baseball reference). He also has fewer losses. His team has a better record.

For Liriano to be favored over Price, you have to value peripherals and projections over the above (as seems to be quite common). Unless, of course, the Cy Young award is a half-season award as posited above.

Also, Liriano shouldn’t get too much credit for the Twins being in first. The White Sox have blown their share of games in the second half (not to mention the 5 UER of support they gave him in the 7/16 start, and the 5 ER he gave up in his 8/18 start).

Coby DuBose
Guest
Coby DuBose

Yeah, the White Sox really handed over the division. Didn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Twins are 34-12 in their last 46 or anything…

uhhh.

James
Guest
James

Uhhh, yeah, let me explain…. My point was that (a) Price has been better than Liriano other than the fact that Liriano averages about 0.75 strikeouts more per game and (b) Liriano isn’t really the reason they are in first. I think he’s pretty irrelevant to their success compared to other frontline guys. They score quite a few runs, play good defense, and win every year during the regular season, regardless of who they run out there to start. Then, they lose every year in the first round of the postseason when they play better teams.

Regarding the White Sox handing over the division – Twins are 8-3 vs the White Sox since the all-star break. White Sox blew two games vs. the Twins in the last at-bat, had the aforementioned game where they kicked the ball around. White Sox win those games, that would make them 4 back. Failed to execute in what could’ve easily been a win last night… that would make them 3 back. Throw in games they blew in the 9th to the Mariners and Tigers (just to name two games that looked like sure wins), then they are 1 back. So that’s where I’m coming from, it’s my OPINION that if the White Sox (a) didn’t have a horrid start, (b) didn’t consistently lose games by way of blown saves and errors, or (c) would play .500 vs the Twins, they’d be in first regardless of how well the Twins have played. In other words, if the White Sox played consistent fundamental baseball like the Twins, they’d be in first. But if ifs and buts were candy and nuts….

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

“He’s pretty irrelevant to their success compared to other frontline guys.”

That may be overstating the point *just* a tad. I think what you’re meaning is, he didn’t exceed expectations to the extent of some other Twins may have this year. But that said, Liriano has been VERY instrumental to their success in ’10.

Nick
Guest
Nick

Quite the hater…
Much of what you said could be applied to both Sabathia and Price: “They score quite a few runs, play good defense, and win every year during the regular season, regardless of who they run out there to start.”
Just be careful, the Twins could very well end the season with baseball’s best record.

NotDave
Guest
NotDave

James has a point. If the White Sox hadn’t lost all those games they lost, they’d have won a lot more games.

Mike
Guest

When is the last time a Cy Young came from the AL East?

09 – Grenkie – Central
08 – Lee – Central
07 – Sabathia – Central
06 – Santana – Central
05 – Colon – West
04 – Santana – Central
03 -Halladay – East, but with Toronto

It’s been 7 years since the AL East has had a Cy Young, so it is definitely not only about the AL East. In fact 5/7 are from the Central.

Also, I came here to note that Fangraphs has pointed out that both Lester and Lirano have been better than CC and Price.