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(drums fingers on desk)

(Reboots brain)

Ahhh … what the heck.

To begin with, I would like to congratulate Cliff Lee on his upcoming 2008 Cy Young Award.

He has had a tremendous year; while we know that the value of pitching wins is dubious, there is no way to get around the fact that a 22-3 record on a .500 team isn’t a statistical fluke. A pitcher has to have an amazing season to accomplish the feat.

His peripheral totals bear this out: 1st in ERA and ERA+, second in IP and CG, third in WHIP and BB/9, and fifth in KK/B.

There is no doubt the man had a Cy Young-caliber season.

Now, if you expect me to take this with dignity and good grace—well, guess again. I will have my final say on this subject because after everything I have put up with this season in following the Toronto Blue Jays I feel I have earned the opportunity to make a fuss about the one thing that I could cheer on as 2008 wound down.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

For you Cleveland Indian fans I say this: Get your [bleeping] fingers off the keyboard this instant or I’m going to send Lisa Gray down to break everyone of the [bleeping] digits on your hands—if you wish to not require assistance in wiping your keester for the next three months, I strongly suggest you comply.

She may not be big, but she’s not one to be trifled with; besides, my central point isn’t about the inevitable coronation of Lee but rather what a travesty it will be if Halladay finishes lower than second.

I will be comparing Halladay’s season to Lee merely to demonstrate my point.

So NYAH!! (Um, Lisa I see a couple of Tribe fans have ignored my friendly suggestion—be a dear and make an example of a couple? Thanks so much.)

Now then (Oooo … that’s gotta hurt; well, I gave them fair warning.), where was I?

Remember those fuzzy little peripheral totals I mentioned? Well, let’s see how Lee and Halladay compare:

Lee is first in ERA and ERA+; Halladay is second and third in those departments. Lee is second in IP and CG; Halladay tops both leaderboards. Lee is third in WHIP and BB/9; Halladay is first in WHIP and fourth in BB/9. Lee is fifth in KK/B; Halladay is first in that department as well.

Halladay is also third in the AL in strikeouts; Lee is ninth.

The difference in ERA is offset by Halladay’s extra 22-plus IP, the won-loss records have to be weighed against the fact that Lee had a “cheap win” and no “tough losses” whereas Halladay didn’t get a single “cheap win” from his offense but endured five “tough losses.” Lee had 6.13 runs of support per start whereas Halladay’s run support was a mere 4.72.

Their hard luck is best demonstrated thusly: Lee had a 3.84 ERA in games that he didn’t get a win; Halladay is at 3.86 ERA. Yet Lee only pitched 61.2 innings in his non-winning games to Doc’s 93.1. The Blue Jays scored just 28 runs in the 13 games that Halladay was saddled with a loss or a no decision while the Tribe scored 60 runs in Lee’s three losses/six no decisions.

The difference in quality of teams faced has been done enough that there’s no need for me to add anything here.

Well, one data point: I don’t think anybody felt the Cy Young race was decided in mid-August, yet over their last nine starts Lee is 7-1, 2.45 ERA; Halladay 7-2, 2.95 ERA. Lee faced the Royals three times, the Jays, Tigers, Angels, White Sox, Twins and Red Sox once apiece while Halladay faced the Red Sox and Yankees three times, the Rays twice and the White Sox once. Plus, Halladay made his nine starts over 41 days while Lee made his nine over 45 (days).

It appears Lee’s season might be done and won’t be facing the White Sox this weekend due to stiffness in the neck. His ERA has risen from 2.28 to 2.54 over his last three starts and should he have a disastrous start (2.2 IP/7 ER) against the White Sox because of it (highly unlikely but not impossible considering his pitching of late) he’d lose the ERA title to Halladay.

Ah ah ah … Lisa’s still here and I haven’t implied anything—those dirty thoughts came from your own head.

Shame on you!

The bottom line in the 2008 Cy Young Award voting is simple—if Cliff Lee was the No. 1 pitcher in the AL this season, then there’s no way anyone other than Halladay is 1A. It will be a travesty if any member of the BBWAA who selects Cliff Lee as his top pick doesn’t tab Roy Halladay right behind him. Despite Lee’s gaudy won-loss record there is space between them so small that even David Samson after a 100-day hunger strike couldn’t squeeze into it were he coated in Slick 50.

(Psssst, but I’d still pick Halladay.)

Get ‘em Lisa.

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