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Friday, November 19, 2010

Why David Price deserved to finish ahead of CC Sabathia in the AL Cy Young race

Even many Yankee fans seem to agree that Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League this season. The only argument in favor of CC Sabathia would be that he pitched in the pressure of a pennant race, but even there, he fell short.

Sabathia was very inconsistent down the stretch, allowing at least five earned runs in three of his last seven starts, including seven against Tampa on September 23. He was great in most of his other games, allowing no runs in eight innings twice, including a game against Tampa on September 13.

But if you're going to use pennant pressure to help decide the Cy Young, it's not good enough to be feast or famine. You've got to be the kind of pitcher who steps up his game in crunch time. That's what David Price was in 2010.

In September, Price went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Two of his wins were against the Yankees and the Red Sox, both on the road. In another game against the Yankees, Price allowed no runs in eight innings in a game the Rays eventually won in the eleventh.

Price's two games against the Yankees happened to be the two that Sabathia pitched. The two aces both pitched eight scoreless innings in one of them, while Price gave up three earned runs and Sabathia seven in the other.

Hernandez was unbelievable down the stretch, allowing no more than one earned run in nine of his last ten starts, pitching at least seven innings in eight of them. Four of his wins came against pennant contenders Boston, the Yankees and Texas, with three of those games on the road. (One of the games against Texas came after the Rangers had already clinched the division.)

Squawker Lisa, while I agree with your giving Price credit for his strong pitching in a pennant race, I can't go along with your picking Price over King Felix until they change the title of the award to Most Valuable Pitcher.

2 comments:

Uncle Mike said...

Again, the Cy Young, like the MVP, isn't about "best" or "most outstanding," it's about "most valuable," and with all due respect to Mariner fans -- who never showed up until 1995 and seemed to disappear after October 2001 -- Felix Hernandez was not the most valuable pitcher in the American League this season. If you're only 1 game over .500, you're not Cy Young-worthy unless you're a reliever with a truckload of saves.

I don't object to David Price being picked over CC Sabathia; if CC deserved the Cy, it was last season, not this one. But that season, too, the Cy went to the wrong guy: Zack Grienke did nothing to help get the Royals out of last place, and Hernandez, who finished 2nd in the voting, was only good enough to help the Mariners get above .500. CC was the most valuable pitcher in the AL that season, and anybody who says otherwise simply doesn't understand that the purpose of a pitcher is to stop the other team's offense so that your own has a chance to win. Pitching and defense, as in all sports, doesn't win, it gives your hitters a chance to win.

Jon Lewin said...

If the purpose of a pitcher is to stop the other team's offense so that your own has a chance to win, wouldn't you want Greinke (2.16 ERA in 2009) or Hernandez (2.49) over Sabathia (3.37)?

The disparity is even greater in a sabermetric stat like Baseball Reference's WAR, where Greinke won in 2009 with 9.0, while Sabathia was tied for ninth with 4.3.

In 2010, Sabathia was actually a lot closer in BR's WAR, finishing tied for second with Weaver and Buchholz at 5.4 behind Hernandez' 6.0. Price was at 5.3.