SSI Cy Young Handicap, I

=== Disclaimer ===

We wrote an article introducing yer to Bill James' fabuloso Magic 8 Ball that sees into the heads of sportswriters.   We're not saying that we agree with what sportswriters tend to value, necessarily.  

But then again, neither do we necessarily scoff at it.  I think that the collective wisdom of the media guys is more than we give it credit for.  That's not to say the collective media wisdom is Gillick-ian.  But there's some interesting philosophy in the press room.  ;- )


=== Felix Hernandez ===

As we wrote earlier, sportswriters have valued few losses and they have valued high W/L ratios.

There's nothing wrong with this, in proportion.  If I told you the active leader for W/L percentage, would you guess that it would be a great pitcher?  Yeah.

The all-time leader ... a guy from the 1870's went 253 and 65.  LOL.  He's in the Hall of Fame with a career 143 ERA+.


Felix threw exactly one bad game after May 19.  His five losses aren't random luck.  He was great every start.

Greinke lost his 8th today, so all of the other candidates have 8 or more losses.  Felix' 19-5 record is his big argument, and it's a fair argument.


=== Zack Greinke ===

His argument is that, in a vacuum, he's had the best performance.  By one notch, and it's a clear notch.

In terms of runs saved, Greinke was at a staggering +83 this season -- and deserved, per Fangraphs, a $41M salary.  Whoooa nellie.

The other big SP's also had spectacular runs totals, at +60 to +73 runs saved and $25-35M salaries earned.  

(The top AL hitters, Zobrist, Mauer, Longoria, etc. also tracked from +60 to +84 runs better than "replacement" AAA journeymen.  Gutierrez, given credit for 27 runs saved on defense, was in the top 10.   ...sometimes we locals float the idea that starting pitchers aren't as important as position players ... in terms of runs saved they're neck-and-neck.  IMHO their impact on the flow of a pennant race can be greater.)


But like James says, the "Cy Young Award" is NOT a "Most Runs Saved" award.   It's harder to pitch for a pennant, and easier to pitch when you're sneaking up on people.

The best pitcher isn't necessarily the one who pitches the most, either.  Josh Beckett could go join the PCL, pitch half the innings of the other guys, and he'd be "the best pitcher" in that league, right?


Still, Las Vegas has Zack Greinke at an 85% chance to win the Cy, and the whole rest of the field sharing a 15% shot.   I'd say Vegas is messed up on this one.  60%, maybe.  85%?  I'd be shocked if those odds were accurate.

7:2 against Felix when James' calculator has him #1 ... and he "won" the last weekend?  Can't be 7:2, can it?


Greinke has 242 strikeouts and 51 walks. 

Dr. D considers K/BB much more heavily than do other pitching analysts; everything we discuss -- templates, future arc, weaknesses, plateaus, it all revolves around the pivot of where a guy's K/BB is. 

Those 242 and 51 don't lie.  This guy's stuff was blinkin' hard to see, and his craftsmanship was off the charts as well.


=== Josh Beckett ===

Never gets mentioned.   But he is 17-6 for a glam team.   His W/L is easily the flashiest, except for Felix, and Beckett has done it for the mighty Sox -- in the league's most severe hitter's park.

Problemo is, his ERA is 3.86.   An excellent ERA in Fenway.  But this year, there is a handful of guys more than 1 full run lower -- and Greinke is at 2.16.

It just looks bad to give it to a 3.86 guy when there's another guy at 2.16.  The howls are too easy.   I wonder if James has a -100 points factor for being 1.50 ERA points behind a competitor?

James gives 12 points, in the minds of the sportswriters, if your team finishes first.  But shouldn't there be a minimum +6 for the Sox and Yankees pitchers, anyway?  :- )

Part II



Felix had only 12 victories as we neared September. 
The Angels took us into extra innings, tied 2-2, about a month ago.
Had the Mariners scored 3 runs for Felix in this game, he'd have gone from 12 wins to 20 in eight ballgames :- )


IIRC, and check me on this, the Mariners went 27-3 in the Unit's starts one year, and 18-2 in an adjacent year.  They had a streak of going 44-6, IIRC, in fifty Johnson starts.
It was surreal.  But of course Johnson was the 2nd-best LHP of all time, pitching in front of Junior, ARod, Edgar, and Bone.
The M's, with a 90 OPS+, went 20-for-25 in Felix' last 25 starts.  That's probably even more amazing.


If we ever lose Felix, it's going to take awhile to find another 'automatic' ace.  He'd be quite a building block for the next pennant, if he'll give us any kind of bargain on his deal.
Recoup a $5-7M Bedard who pulls a Chris Carpenter and you've offloaded the first two boxes of the parade confetti...

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