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Felix Hernandez wins the AL Cy Young award

Posted by Andy on November 18, 2010

This is a good day for stats geeks like us. Felix Hernandez, despite a 13-12 record, easily won the AL Cy Young award, and deservedly so.

He led AL pitchers in WAR:

1 Felix Hernandez 6.0 24 SEA 34 6 1 13 12 249.2 232 2.27 174
2 Clay Buchholz 5.4 25 BOS 28 1 1 17 7 173.2 120 2.33 187
3 CC Sabathia 5.4 29 NYY 34 2 0 21 7 237.2 197 3.18 134
4 Jered Weaver 5.4 27 LAA 34 0 0 13 12 224.1 233 3.01 135
5 David Price 5.3 24 TBR 31 2 1 19 6 208.2 188 2.72 145
6 Jon Lester 5.0 26 BOS 32 2 0 19 9 208.0 225 3.25 134
7 John Danks 4.9 25 CHW 32 1 1 15 11 213.0 162 3.72 117
8 C.J. Wilson 4.6 29 TEX 33 3 0 15 8 204.0 170 3.35 129
9 Francisco Liriano 4.6 26 MIN 31 0 0 14 10 191.2 201 3.62 115
10 Carl Pavano 4.6 34 MIN 32 7 2 17 11 221.0 117 3.75 111
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/18/2010.

Just goes to show you how little Wins and Losses mean, as an individual pitcher stat (despite being, obviously, the most important team stat.)

Jered Weaver had a similar season W-L record and a high WAR.

Amazingly, 50 pitchers have had a WAR of at least 6.0 and a W-L record even worse than Hernandez.

I think Neil is going to follow up with a post on WAR leaders who also won the Cy Young award.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 18th, 2010 at 5:21 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

94 Responses to “Felix Hernandez wins the AL Cy Young award”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'm not 100% sure Felix deserved the CYA. He probably did, and I'm glad the voters looked past the W-L record, which I think is almost completely meaningless for CYA consideration (I would give it more consideration in MVP voting). But his high number of unearned runs, his home park, and his defense make it closer than some think. I guess WAR reflects this pretty well; he's got an edge but 0.6 is by no means dispositive.

  2. Sorry, but CC Sabathia should have won this award. Just because he pitches for the Yankees should not have hurt him. AJ Burnett pitches for the Yankees and lost 15 games. King Felix is a great pitcher, but 13 wins for a #1 starting pitcher is unacceptable. The guy didn't have a meaningful game to pitch after May 1st.

  3. Johnny Twisto Says:

    What about the three times he dominated the Yankees after May 1? Weren't the Yankees trying to win those games?

  4. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Sabathia is not hurt at all by pitching for the Yankees. Felix is by pitching for Seattle and their historically poor offense. That's the point.

  5. I already did a post on BtB about WAR leaders and winning the Cy Young Award.

    The WAR leader has won the award about half the time. Some of the pitchers who were overlooked had 2+ win leads in the category too.

  6. Justin Bailey Says:

    @2 - So you're saying that Steve Carlton shouldn't have won the CYA in '72? It's arguably the best season a pitcher has ever had, and he didn't pitch in a single "meaningful" game.

  7. a GOOD day for the stat-heads, Andy? More like a watershed day.

    I don't like a guy winning the Cy Young with 13 wins, but just look at the guy's game log. He literally had two bad games. Two.

    Id've still given it to CC

  8. Morten Jonsson Says:

    You could make a good case for Price and Bucholz too, but I think this is the right call. Sabathia was good, but if he didn't pitch for the Yankees this year, his name wouldn't even come up in this conversation. They scored more than twice as many runs or him as Hernandez got. Way more than twice.

  9. I don't like a guy winning the Cy Young with 13 wins, but just look at the guy's game log. He literally had two bad games. Two.

    I'm not sure how you can say this, and then follow that up by saying you'd give it to CC?

    A point that's belabored by worth bringing up again because it's so important: if people want to hang their hat on "pitching under pressure," it's really hard to imagine that pitching in NYC is any harder than pitching for a team that scores 1 run on a good night.

    Congrats to Felix, and to the voters for recognizing the best pitcher in the AL this year.

  10. Belabored *but* worth bringing up. Durrrrr.

  11. The thing that seems odd is the discrepancy between BR WAR and Fan Graphs WAR.

    Cliff Lee had a 7.1 WAR on Fan Graphs and a 4.3 on BR. That seems like a huge disparity. Cliff BR WAR seems a bit low considering he had quite a bit of #1 finishes: Whip, BB/9, K/BB, HR/9, CG, and shutouts. Lee is listed as the Best pitchers in the Majors on Fan Graphs and he's not even one of the top ten on BR WAR.

    Justin Verlander was second on Fan Graphs WAR with a 6.3 and on this version he only had a 4.2 and didn't make the top ten in the A.L.

    Francisco Liariano had a 6 WAR on Fan Graphs and only had a 4.6 on BR WAR.

    Jared Weaver had a hell of year that went completely unreported:


    Weaver's Achilles Heel was giving up HR otherwise he probably would have won the Cy Young.

    I think I would have still given it to Felix because he had a 6.2 WAR at Fan Graphs and a 6 at BR, if you add both WARS together, Felix had the highest.

  12. Buchholz is a very good pitcher. If I had to pick a pitcher (in the A.L>) to pitch one game, I would rate him 2nd behind Hernandez. Having said that, for the entire year I had the top 3 in the A.L. as Hernandez, Weaver, Sabathia. The reason I have Buchholz lower (11th) was because he pitcher fewer innings. Hernandez pitched 249.67 innings; Buchholz pitched 173.67 innings. How can WAR put Buchholz 2nd when he pitched so many innings less than Sabathia, Weaver and others?

  13. Wasn't Tim Lincecum winning the NL Cy Young last year also a sign that the voters are somewhat starting to look beyond wins? He won it with 15 wins over Carpenter, who had 17 and Wainwright who had 19.

  14. Fangraphs' WAR is based on FIP, which is why Cliff rated so well. I wonder what combination of the 2 styles of WAR is best. There's a lot of luck involved in Rally WAR, so I think over 50% of the weight should be on FIP-based WAR. I don't expect that to catch on, but it would seem to make sense.

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Re #11, for anyone who doesn't know, B-R pitcher WAR is based on runs allowed per IP with an adjustment for estimated defensive support. Fangraphs is based on HR, K and BB. B-R assumes every pitcher on the team had equivalent defensive support. FG assumes no pitcher has any control over BABIP or performance with RISP. Neither is correct. If you have a better idea for how to strip fielding out of pitching, you can make a name for yourself. Read this article for a good explanation of how they differ:

  16. @12

    Buchholz allowed half the amount of runs expected of a rep.-level pitcher. The other guys near the top were closer to 60%. He had the best "pace" of all the pitchers, but didn't quite have enough innings to pass Felix.

  17. Morten Jonsson Says:

    I made a slight mistake earlier. Sabathia didn't get twice as many runs to work with as Hernandez did. Almost, though. It would be fun to figure out what their records might have been if they had each other's run support.

  18. @15

    There is a defensive adjustment on here. Felix had a +8 run adjustment, tied with his teammate Jason Vargas for highest in the AL. This means his rep.-level run total is 8 runs lower than it would be with an average defense.

  19. The "meaningless games" and "pitching under pressure" arguments make little sense to me.

    It's all how you spin it. You can easily make the argument that Felix pitched under a ton of pressure. He basically went out there every game with the knowledge that if he gave up just one or two runs it would be very difficult for him to win. That's pressure.

    He also is yet to sign a huge contract and doesn't have $100 million coming his way yet. Money is a huge motivating factor for many players, especially young guys who haven't had an outlandish pay day yet.

    You could argue that CC didn't have as much pressure since he's already got $120 million coming his way, and he knows he doesn't have to go the whole game because Mariano is waiting in the wings, and if he loses, he's got Pettitte in the rotation to pick the team up, and if he gives up a few runs he's not out of it because he's got Teix, A-Rod, Cano, Swisher, Jeter, Gardner, etc.

    You can spin it any way you want. All big leaguers have pressure on them in one way or another.

  20. The narrative seems to be that this vote is about traditionalists vs. sabermetricians, the old guard vs. the new, etc. To some extent that may be true, but the thing is you don't really need a whole lot of advanced stats to understand why Felix was better than Sabathia this year. It's really just common sense.

    When I was 7 or 8 years old the concept of wins didn't make sense to me. I wasn't a sabermetricians. It's just common sense. Any baseball fan, old-school or new-school should be able to see this. How many times have you seen a pitcher pitch great in a 2-1 or 1-0 game and lose, or have the bullpen blow a lead? How many times have you seen a reliever pitch to two batters and get a win, or seen a starter go 5 innings and allow four runs but get the win. It happens all the time.

  21. @3 & @4-The Mariners were out of any playoff race at the time. Again if the Yankees score so many more runs and give support, how is it that AJ Burnett lost 15 games? There are no guarantees for wins pitching for a team no matter what. Look at Cliff Lee, he was traded to the Rangers, a team that made the World Series and he was 4-6 for them. Who is to say if Hernandez was traded to the Sox that he would have the same success as he did for the Mariners

    @6- Carlton had a much better year than Felix did in 1972. He was the best pitcher by far. Winning 27 games is not the same as winning 13

  22. Here are some basic stats that any old-school fan can easily understand:

    First, Felix had 30 quality starts, which is a very high number. The last two pitchers to have that many were Randy Johnson in 2002 and Greg Maddux in 1992. And for those that don't like QS, in only one of those games did he achieve the bare minimum of 3 ER in 6 IP. In 23 of the 30 starts, he allowed 2 ER or less in 7 or more IP.

    Now, he was only credited with the win in 13 of those 30 starts. Which means he had 17 quality starts which resulted in a tough loss or no-decision. That is also an unusually high number. Even with average run support and luck, he probably should have won 20 of the 30.

    Felix had just 13 wins because of a lack of run support and a terrible bullpen behind him.

    In the 17 winless QS, Fliex pitched excellently: 17 GS, 0-8, 123 IP, 103 H, 30 ER, 37 BB, 97 SO, 7 HR, 2.20 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

    Here is what the Seattle offense gave him while he was still the pitcher of record in those 17 winless QS:

    24 runs (1.41 runs per game), .208 BA, .268 OBP, .295 SLG, .563 OPS, 15-101 (.149) w/ RISP, 7 HR

    Any way you slice it, those are abysmal numbers. You cannot be the winning pitcher if your team doesn't score for you. While he was in the game (and he pitched 7 innings or more in just about all these games), they scored zero runs 7 times, one run 4 times and two runs twice. So in those 13 games, that's a total of 8 runs.

    Now, here's what the bullpen did:

    Felix completed two of those games (CG losses), so the bullpen played in 15 of them. In 12 of those 15 appearances, the bullpen allowed at least one run. Here are the numbers:

    31 IP, 45 H, 23 BB, 24 SO, 33 R, 32 ER, 5 HR, 9.29 ERA, 2.194 WHIP

    Again, this is not just bad, this is off the charts horrendous.

    Meanwhile, in the 13 games he actually did manage to win, he could not have pitched much better: 106.2 IP, 64 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 4 HR, 19 BB, 117 SO, 0.84 ERA, 0.78 WHIP.

    In those 13 wins, he allowed 0 ER five times, 1 ER six times and 2 ER twice.

    Overall in his 30 QS, his numbers were: 229.2 IP, 167 H, 40 ER, 56 BB, 214 SO, 11 HR, 1.57 ERA, 0.97 WHIP. And with those incredible numbers he won just 13 of the 30. He literally could not have pitched much better.

    These are ideas that should be easy for anyone to understand. You can't just look at a number like 13 wins or 17 wins and have any idea about how the pitcher actually performed. Advanced stats are great and I support them, but if you happen to be one of these people who is absolutely against them, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to understand how well Felix pitched.

  23. Can somebody please give me a good argument for Buchholz? The guy had just 174 innings in 28 starts. It frustrated me to keep seeing his name in the Cy Young discussions when he averaged about 6 IP/GS and had over 60 fewer innings (or 10 starts for him) than the bulk of the main competition?

    Also, how come his WAR is SOOO much higher than on fangraphs where he ranked around 51st in the ML at around 3.7?

  24. Morten Jonsson Says:


    A. J. Burnett lost 15 games because he pitched really, really badly.

    Carlton did pitch better in 1972 than Hernandez did this year. Not much better, though. And he got a lot more run support--when he pitched, the Phillies scored at about league average.

    It's true, you can't tell what would have happened if circumstances were different. It's fun to guess, but you can really only go on what actually did happen. Which was that Felix Hernandez pitched better over the 2010 season than anybody else did.

  25. @2 The best pitcher doesn't mean the pitcher with most wins. He pitched the best to help his team win the games. In the end they're ALL meaningful games!

  26. I think it's amazing that Felix went 2-10 in games he allowed over 1 earned run. That includes a 2-3 record with 3 no decisions, when he allowed just 2 ER's. Basically the guy knew he had to allow less then 2 runs every time he took the mound, if he expected to win a game. How in the world did this guy manage to get credited with as many as 13 victories?!? That's incredible. Dude was pitching in deadball era games all summer.

  27. Morten Jonsson Says:


    The argument for Buchholz is that he was brilliant. You can dock him all you want for not pitching as many innings as the other guys, but saying he doesn't deserve to be considered for the Cy Young is like saying Sandy Koufax doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because he didn't win 300 games.

  28. Morten Jonsson Says:


    Or did you mean Horst Buchholz? The argument for him is that he was really cool in The Magnificent Seven.

  29. I think he meant Taylor Buchholz, who is now also on the Red Sox.

  30. @27

    I looked back and the fewest innings ever by a Cy Young award winner (that was not a relief pitcher) was Pedro Martinez in 1999 when he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA in 213 1/3 innings. And he struck out 313.

    I think that 210 innings should be a minimum for consideration for the CYA. Price and Lester were borderline with 208+ IP. 35 pitchers in the AL threw more innings than Buchholz. He was excellent in the games he pitched this year. However, he did have just 19 QS (68%) which is way less than Felix (30 QS, 88%). He also had the same number of starts as Cliff Lee, but Lee 212 1/3 IP, which is 39 more innings. Don't all those extra innings count for something? Why take a pitcher who is excellent over a pitcher who was only slightly worse but would save your bullpen 40 innings?

    Buchholz has a bright future ahead of him, but I still can't help but find it strange how high he finished in the CYA voting.

    FYI, my ballot would have been:
    1. Felix, 2. Weaver, 3. Sabathia, 4. Verlander, 5. Lee

  31. Carlton won 27 games for a last place team in 72, Hernandez won 13 way Hernandez deserved the Carlton proved, good pitchers still win with bad teams and Felix was barely .500

  32. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There is a defensive adjustment on here.

    I said that.

    He also is yet to sign a huge contract and doesn't have $100 million coming his way yet.

    He did sign a big extension prior to the season.

    Also, how come [Buccholz's] WAR is SOOO much higher than on fangraphs

    See post #15

  33. @30

    It's a lot tougher to accumulate Runs Above Replacement when you throw less innings. As I said in post #16, Buchholz allowed 51% of his rep.-level runs, compared to Felix's 59%. Buchholz had a BABIP allowed of .263, so he was somewhat lucky to allow so few runs. It takes quite an effort to beat out 75 extra innings.

  34. According to my tally, the WAR leader has won 54% of the Cy Young awards (49 times), and the average rank of the winner is about 5th (4.8). What's lost in this celebration of the statistic du jour, however, is that Roy Halladay -- you know, the obviously best pitcher in the NL this year, hands down -- was second to Ubaldo Jimenez in WAR. If that isn't enough to demand retooling and a trip back to the drawing board, I'm not sure what would be.

  35. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I looked back and the fewest innings ever by a Cy Young award winner (that was not a relief pitcher) was Pedro Martinez in 1999 .... I think that 210 innings should be a minimum for consideration for the CYA.

    You're saying Pedro did NOT deserve to win the CYA?

    Carlton won 27 games for a last place team in 72, Hernandez won 13 way Hernandez deserved the Carlton proved, good pitchers still win with bad teams and Felix was barely .500

    Carlton received average run support. Hernandez's was extremely poor.

  36. @32

    That was a reading fail on my part there.

  37. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Roy Halladay -- you know, the obviously best pitcher in the NL this year, hands down -- was second to Ubaldo Jimenez in WAR.

    Why is that so obvious? You realize Jimenez pitches for Colorado?

  38. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    With all of the turmoil in Seattle this year, thirteen wins are just shy of miraculous. We can talk all we want about wins and WAR, but one determining factor should be considered as well:

    Where would the team been without him?

    As hard as it is to concieve, the Mariners would have been chasing futility records without Felix. Something tells me that this isn't the last time we're going to see Hernandez in these discussions.

  39. No disrespect to the "stat geeks", but if anyone needed something like WAR to tell them Felix was the best pitcher in the AL this year, then you're really missing out.

  40. @Johnny Twisto

    Halladay: ERA+ of 165 in 250.7 innings, #2 in WHIP (behind Oswalt), #1 K/BB ratio, #2 in K (behind Lincecum), #1 in Shutouts.

    Jimenez: ERA+ of 161 in 221.7 innings, behind Halladay in WHIP, K/BB, K, and SHO. I fail to see what pitching in Colorado has do to with anything.

  41. Johnny Twisto Says:

    ERA+ is based on multiple years of park factor data, some of which have yet to occur. If Coors keeps playing as much of a hitters' park as it did this season, Jimenez's ERA+ may move ahead of Halladay's in the future. Basically, we don't know how much any park truly affects scoring, and you can get different answers based on how you choose to apply park factors.

    Not to mention defenses....

    Halladay may have been the best in the league. It's not a clear choice to me.

  42. @JT

    Fair enough. And Jimenez is just barely ahead of Halladay in WAR. I just would have thought that the distinction would be clearer, given how dominant Halladay has seemed across the boards, even with park factors taken into consideration. And I'm sure having Tulo behind him helped more than hurt Jimenez.

  43. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Certainly Tulo helped him. And Halladay has Utley, Rollins, and Polanco. And Victorino and Werth (though he's more of a groundballer). WAR says Halladay got a slightly bigger advantage from his defense. Close enough it could be argued either way, I suppose. Halladay also gave up a few more UER. All little things which make it closer than the raw stats indicate.

  44. there's been a lot of hype that FHern winning this reflects a new generation that looks at stats differently. but I honestly can't think of many or any pitchers from the past who had lousy W/L records but deserved the award considerably more than his peers.

  45. @35

    No, I was just pointing out that only a pitcher with such a tremendous season as what Pedro had is deserving of a Cy Young with so few innings. Plus I think you misread something because I stated that Pedro had 213 innings, and would therefore fall within my own personal criteria. Buchholz never sniffed Pedro's 1999 numbers (or his 2000 numbers in which he pitched 217 innings I think and won the CYA again) and still had 40 fewer innings. So I've set a sudo-minimum based on Pedro's Cy Young seasons.

  46. Justin Bailey Says:

    @31 - And the very next year Carlton went 13-20. In '70 he went 10-19. What was your point again?

  47. I agree re: the far fewer % of IP being a hard handicap to overcome. Though a year like this one, where the top AL WAR scores were 6.0 & 5.4, consider how many IP less Martinez could have thrown & still had the highest WAR. In his best couple of years, it would be significantly less, fewer than Buchholz for sure. The search is not working now for Pedro's best WAR, but I recall it just over 9. If that is so, it is a good 50% higher than Felix, so he could have ~ this % less IP than even he threw, & still deserved the award.

    Of course, these kinds of seasons are rare.

  48. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Genis, sorry, I did misread, as well as misremember. I think was remembering his 2002 season when he pitched 199 IP (2nd pitcher to win 20 games in fewer than 200 IP), and I confused the "1999" with that. Or something.

  49. Justin Bailey Says:

    I'm sorry, that was unnecessary.

    But my point stands. Even great pitchers can't always "find" a way to win on a bad team. And Felix was victimized by a historically bad offense.

  50. Carlton pitched 346.1 innings in '72, & had a historically massive 12.2 WAR that year. Over twice what King Felix did, with the better part of, but less than, 1/2 again as many IP. Though even he would have won much less with the run support of Hernandez.

    Carlton had only 2 years where he rivaled that level of efficiency, & doing it in so many IP made it a Season for the Ages. He even was a decent hitter for a pitcher- career 33 OPS, .201 B.A.

  51. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Yeah, Felix had a very good season. Carlton had one of the best seasons ever. Throw in the difference in run support and workload, and of course Felix didn't win 27 games. No one's comparing him to Carlton '72, just the rest of the AL '10.

  52. Justin Bailey Says:

    Do not misunderstand me: I am not saying Hernandez's '10 is anything even approaching comparable to Carlton's '72.

  53. Charles Saeger Says:

    While I likely would have voted for Hernández as well, I can't see how there would have been a problem if Sabathia had won. If you want to cite WAR, well, there's less than a win difference between them. Even if you raise the replacement level a bit, give more credit for keeping a few more balls out of play, there's no way you can get the difference to more than a win in WAR.

    Yes, the voters looked past won-lost record, and that's a good thing, but for WAR, there's not a big enough gap for these metrics to be definitive about matters.

  54. @15 Twisto, thanks for the link.

    I think what frustrates a lot of baseball fans who are interested in things like Sabermetrics are the differences in things like WAR and the huge discrepancies of their outcomes. The discrepancies seem worse with pitchers as opposed to position players. I think this is what frustrates a lot of people, instead of illuminating it sometimes makes things more muddled and confusing

    Again by comparison Cliff Lee ranked first in the A.L. and First in the Majors with 7.1 WAR on fan-graphs. On the BR version he ranked tied for 11th in the AL and tied for 17th in the majors.

    Buchholtz is ranked 2nd on BR and ranked 17th on fangraphs.

    Cliff Lee was tied with Gio Gonzalez and Jeremy Gunthrie for 11th place in the AL and 17th in the majors on BRWAR. On Fangraphs Cliff Lee ranked 1rst in the AL and 1rst in the Majors. Gio Gonzalez ranked 19th in the AL and 44th in the Majors on Fangraphs and Jeremy Gutherie ranked 32nd in the AL and 66th in the majors on Fangraphs.

    Sometime I feel they should just give the Cy Young to the pitcher with the best K/BB ratio in the league. Cliff Lee had a 10.2 this season which is the best full season K/BB in baseball history. (Saberhagen's 11.0 in 1994 was technically the best but that was during a strike shortened season.

  55. Actually, Pedro had a 10.1 WAR in 2000. If this version of WAR is accurate, jus' compare that to 6.0, take 40% off his 217 IP, & it is scary how few IP could have made him the most productive this year.

    But he could not throw so well with the IP of a Carlton or Gibson. Only Walter Johnson beat them as the top WAR guys since 1900. Before then, many guys were picthing most every game of a short season, so stats were insane. A couple compiled about a 20 WAR, just considering pitching. Here is one:

    But I wonder if the quality of play was much lower then than just a few years later in the early 20th century. Either way, how could they pitch approaching almost every game & inning in some cases?

  56. Actually J.T., #24 did compare those 2 pitcher's seasons. I was clarifying that a clearly if not dramatically better efficiency at ~100 more IP is a tremendously better pitching performance.

  57. Kingturtle @44,

    You might start with Phil Niekro, who pitched very well in lotsof innings for bad Braves teams. Check out Andy's link to a list of 50 pitchers with 6+ WAR and worse winning % than Hernandez this year.

    In general, I think it is great that most of the voters seem to have abandoned Wins as important for the Cy Young. But I don't think that this demonstrates great sabermetric awareness by the voters. A big step in the right direction, but there is still a long ways to go.

  58. dukeofflattbush Says:

    @John Q,
    You usually say some pretty smart things and i'm always always interested to hear them, but -''give the cy young to the guy with the best k/bb' - ? come on, are you serious?
    BB are important, but i'd say good pitchers walk half of their totals on purpose. the BB can be a strategy, not a 'be all measuring stick'.
    a guy who gives up a two out double to the number 4 hitter, is in all likely hood going to pitch around the # 5 hitter. i wouldn't count smart strategy against a player. BBs are the only thing completely in a pitchers control - for good and bad.
    obviously walking the leadoff hitter is a different story, but K/BB doesn't mean as much as you're saying.

  59. Johnny Twisto Says:

    But I wonder if the quality of play was much lower then than just a few years later in the early 20th century. Either way, how could they pitch approaching almost every game & inning in some cases?

    Pitching 50 feet away rather than 60.

    And yes, with such a young game, I think it's quite possible the quality of play increased a lot from 1884 to the early 1900s.

  60. Dukeofflatbush,

    Valid points, you're right there's a lot that goes into walks and just k/bb is way too simplistic. I kind of meant that in a tongue in cheek way because I get frustrated by the whole thing. But basically the k/bb is what FIP is all about, minus the intentional walks and with the HR included.

    I think FIP basically boils everything down to strikeouts, walks, intentional walks and Home Runs or basically only what a pitcher can change in outcome. Johnny Twisto pointed this out as to the discrepancy between Fan Graphs WAR and BR WAR.

    Fan Graphs bases its WAR on FIP so a season like Lee's 2010 goes right off the charts because he had that insane 10.2 K/BB ratio.

  61. For all the grief the Mariners got in 2010, they seem to have been a very good defensive team or at least Total Zone thinks so. Total Zone ranks them as the best defensive team in the majors last year. So Felix did get terrible run support last year but he did have the benefit of pitching in a pitcher's park with a very good defense behind him. It's not like Felix was pitching in a hitter's park with a lousy defense behind him. A 6 WAR is great but it's not like Felix had a 7, 8, or 9 WAR season.

    I think what really hurt Cliff Lee was his trade to the Rangers. Pitching for the Mariners was a perfect situation for Lee because his whole game is not walking anybody, having a good k/9 ratio and putting the ball in play. His Achilles Heel was his H/9 ratio which was 19th in the AL last year. So for Lee, Safeco Field with that defense behind him was a very good situation as shown by his 8-3 record and his 2.34 ERA. It would have been interesting if Lee didn't get traded as to how his season would have ended and how both Lee and Felix would have done in the Cy Young ballot.

  62. "but I honestly can't think of many or any pitchers from the past who had lousy W/L records but deserved the award considerably more than his peers."

    Nolan Ryan, 1987. You can't tell me he didn't lose votes (and lots of 'em) because he only went 8-16. For that matter, Ryan never did win a Cy, and I can't help wondering how much of that is due to the decidedly lackluster winning percentages that he generally put up.

  63. [...] WAR Leader and Cy Young Winner in the Same Season Posted by Neil Paine on November 19, 2010 « Felix Hernandez wins the AL Cy Young award [...]

  64. Those who are saying Halladay was clearly better than Jimenez this season might (and I stress might) be suffering from a bit of memory loss, remembering Halladay's very strong second half more than Jimenez's all-time-incredible first half. Jimenez if I recall correctly racked up 6 WAR by the All-Star break.

  65. can someone please tell me where i can find the X W-L (expected win-loss) for individual SP's...thanks

  66. Aside from the win-loss issue... I think Sabathia suffered a little from people forgetting that NY is a hitting park while Hernandez was in a pitchers park.

    I can't argue with the selection of Hernandez. He deserved it as much as any of the 3 in my opinion. It was a coin flip for me. Maybe I needed a 3-headed coin with Price in there.

  67. Well, if Hernandez can be selected for this year's AL CYA, then I believe the 2004 NL CYA should be re-awarded to Randy Johnson, who was clearly the best pitcher in the league. And who knows about the winnner that year (a juiced-up Rocket?).

  68. Oh, did i mention the Big Unit went 16-14 for a team that lost 111 games?!

  69. Felix Hernandez was clearly the best pitcher in the AL, probably in all of baseball, and rightfully so deserved the Cy Young

    However, since we know that Best is not the definition of Most Valuable, Is it fair to say that CC Sabathia and Davie Price were More Valuable Pitchers than Felix Hernandez?

    Of course it is not Felix's fault that the Mariners suck, and of course if you put either Price or Sabathia on the Mariners, and if you put Felix on the Yankees or Rays, he would easily get a MVPitcher not only because of the better team, but simply cause like he won the Cy Young, he had the better stats

    People make the same arguments about MVP as they originally did with Cy Young Award winners, until the past few years where pitchers with not extremley high win totals haven't won, as opposed to players year in and year out winning MVP from players on playoff teams or playoff contending teams, with the exception of A-Rod in 2003, maybe there was another one recently too but I can't think of

    Without Sabathia, there's a good chance the Yankees don't even make the playoffs. Without Price, there's a good chance the Rays don't win the division.

    Although you can make a good argument and see how much of a difference a teams winning percentage is in games started by a pitcher as opposed to overall winning percentage

    Mariners were 61-101, a .376 winning%

    Take away all starts made by Felix (M's were 17-17 in those games), and their team winning percentage is .343

    Yankees were 95-67, .586 winning%

    Take away starts made by CC (Yankees were 23-11 in CC's games) and their winning percentage in other games is .562

    While the Mariners season was a joke (no offense), but if it's of extreme important to know, it appears Felix was more important to his team in winning than CC was for the Yankees, although of course this can be misleading just like almost any stat. , considering the Yankees were 21-10 (20-9 in starts) in games Phil Hughes pitched in, and he had an average season. Matter of fact the 20-9 in his starts his a higher winning percentage than CC's starts. So maybe this was useless to post lol, but thought I did anyway.

    But my main point is, is it fair to say that CC and Price were more valuable pitchers than Felix was? Despite Felix clearly being the best pitcher?

    And as far as MVP voting goes, my first pick(s) usually goes to player(s) who are on playoff teams or contending teams. Followed by great offensive players on average or bad teams. And of course I always start with offensive players first. Not that pitchers aren't deserving, but I sitll think offensive players deserve it the most.

    I don't have time to give my NL picks, but here are my AL Picks (in order)

    1- Josh Hamilton
    2- Robinson Cano
    3- Miguel Cabrera
    4- Jose Bautista
    5- Joe Mauer
    6- Carl Crawford
    7- Evan Longoria
    8- David Price
    9- CC Sabathia
    10- Felix Hernandez

    I should add my final pick(s) usually go to pitchers, and as I said I think Felix at least deservies a vote for being the best in the league despite being on the worst team in the league, but as I said first, I think Price and CC were more important to their team than Felix althoguh Felix was certainly the best pitcher which specifically states goes to the overall best pitcher where as MVP does not state that it goes to the best offensive player, the best pitcher, or the best overall player. MVP states it goes to one outstanding player.

    Anyway if you agree or disagree, I wouldn't mind hearing your responses. So long as you don't call me dumb if you disagree because your picks and views may differ.

  70. Finally! An award that is given to the right person!

    This was a no-doubt situation. Felix was dominant the past two seasons. If he was on a good hitting team I am confident that he would have been a 20 game winner in 2009 and 2010.

    Let's see what happens in 2011!

  71. @64 Andy,

    As soon as I saw the "Halladay over Jimenez (and Wainright)" show up on the main page, I immediately thought to myself..."It is all how you finish, not how you start". At the end of June the records were (14-1/1.83 for Jimenez and 9-7/2.42 for Hallady). Not to mention the Phillies were "done" at that point.

    But then Jimenez really fell apart (ran out of gas?/injured?) in August/September and Hallady finished up with a ridiculous September (5-0 in 5 starts) helping to clinch it for the Phils. I think if Jimenez could have been even passable in September he would have won the CYA.

  72. @40 -- "I fail to see what pitching in Colorado has do to with anything."

    You must not be trying.

  73. @69

    I agree with you statements 100%. "Most Valuable" is a really tough phrase to define. Because the CYA is simply the best pitcher in the league it doesn't add that extra level of thought of exactly how valuable the pitcher is to his team compared to other pitchers and their teams.

    Good AL MVP list. Can't say I disagree with you on any of those choices as well.

  74. Genis, in response to that and for those who wonder why I would put Crawford/Longoria behind Miggy/Bautista, I think it's just one of those things were it's a coin flip where you have 1 team with 2 or more players where one is basically not of a higher value than another (in that given season). I think Crawford and Longoria were both equally important.

    You can say Cano had the Yankees lineup, but in reality, I think the only 2 good players (offeinsivly) for the Yankees all year were Cano and Gardner.

    A-Rod had a godo year but not an A-Rod type year, plus he was also out for a period of time, and Texieira had an un-Texiera like year. Gardner obviously doesn't have power but he had a great OBP, good average, and of course while it's not a batting stat, one of the top stealers in the game. But his low run and low RBI total is one reason why I wouldn't put him on my list. Maybe he'd make my top 15 or so, but it's only top 10.

    I'm not a huge sabermetric follower but I find it interesting nonetheless.

  75. @ 66 ...maybe you haven't seen Felix's splits. He threw 17 scoreless innings in the Bronx including 1 shutout, against the Yankees potent offense. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia, in plenty more starts in the same stadium, didn't throw a single shutout there despite having 14 extra opportunities to do so ....against plenty of weaker offenses than the Yanks.

  76. @72:

    Perhaps I should have said:
    "I fail to see what pitching in Colorado has to do with ERA+, K/BB, WHIP, or strikeouts," which are the indicators I highlighted. Hard to find that hidden in my original statement, I guess.

    And I didn't forget Jimenez's otherworldly first half -- which is why he got the All-Star start, and apparently why he racked up more WAR than Halladay could overcome. But it's a whole season that we consider, not a subset of favorable months. Like #71 said, it's how you finish that seals the deal.

  77. 13-12 record is not Cy Young material, had C.C. won more then 25 games with the same amount of loses and the same other pitching stats he would have won the award,they do pay attention to wins and loses,they just came up with a reason not to give it to C.C.

  78. Voters used to look at both wins AND losses as the key stats.


    winner: Early Wynn 22-10 WAR=2.7
    Warren Spahn 21-15 WAR=6.5
    Hoyt Wilhelm 15-11 WAR=7.4

    spahn and wilhelm got no votes.

    winner: Vern Law 20-9 WAR=4.5
    Warren Spahn 21-10 WAR=3.0
    Don Drysdale 15-14 WAR=7.0

    spahn came in second. drysdale got no votes.

    From 1959 to 1960 Spahn pitched considerably worse but had fewer hard luck losses.

  79. @76 -- "I fail to see what pitching in Colorado has to do with ERA+, K/BB, WHIP, or strikeouts,"

    ERA+ is, of course, adjusted for park effects.
    The other stats you cited are not adjusted, but they are certainly affected by Coors Field.

    You must be aware of Coors Field's impact on Hits, which is the biggest factor in WHIP, so I'm not sure what you meant on that one.

    Further, while it may not be well-known, Coors Field also depresses strikeouts. Over the past 2 seasons combined, 18.7% of all PAs in Coors Field have been strikeouts, compared to 21.2% in Colorado's road games. Thus, Coors does affect strikeouts, K/9, K/BB, and any other K-related measure.

    A pitcher making half his starts in Coors could be expected to lose about a dozen Ks over the course of a full, 900-batter season.

    Don't get me wrong; I have no doubt that Halladay deserved this year's CYA. But I don't think Jimenez gets enough credit for what he's able to do in spite of his home park. A lot of people seem to think that the humidor has tamed the Coors Effect, which is absolutely not true; the change in the Coors Effect since the humidor has only reduced it from "easily the best hitter's park ever used in the major leagues" to "the best hitter's park in use today."

  80. Rally, who developed the WAR implementation we use here at B-R asa well as many other contributions to sabermatrics, tried to answer the question, "how well would Felix have done in CC's place with the Yankees and vice versa?" His results were; Felix with the Yankees, 22-6. CC with the Mariners, 13-18.

  81. so what is the formula for WAR being used at baseball reference?

  82. I will admit a mistake and I was dead wrong on this. I think I said Hernandez chance of winning the CYA was "a snowball's chance in hell" or some such metaphor. Anyway, to me, Hernandez didn't blow away the field enough on ERA and other stats to win the award (I would have voted for Price) but I am glad to see the writers getting past the "only wins count" approach. And I congratulate Hernandez who is really a terrific young pitcher.

  83. Kingturtle, Figure for the league what a replacement level starter or reliever would allow in runs/9. (A rough estimate would be 1 over league average for a starter, maybe 1/2 run/9 over average for a reliever today.) Adjust this up or down for the park and the defense. (note; 2 pitchers on the same team with the same IP would get different adjustments if one struck out many more batters. The other would have more balls in play, so the defense would have greater effect.) (I don't think they take into account very good infield defense with a groundball pitcher, or vice versa, just the overall quality.) From this replacement level runs you subtract the actual runs given up by the pitcher, not earned runs. This gives us Runs Above Replacement, which we divide by the runs to wins conversion factor. This is close to 10 varying a bit, depending upon the scoring level in the league.
    Lets try King Felix. 1 run/9 over league average in his innings is 153. subtract 9 for the pitching friendly park factor and 8 for the good defense, gives us his replacement runs at 136. He was charged with 80 runs as a pitcher, making him 56 RAR.. With today's somewhat lower scoring environment compared to the previous 17 years the conversion factor gives us 6.0 WAR. Which is pretty low to lead the league, even with the modern reduction in IP/season.

  84. Mike Felber Says:

    Nobody should need to blow away the field at the relevant stats because they had a mediocre W-L record. Unless the latter is due to a strange case of finding ways to lose-which you will almost never find with pitcher's who have great component stats-or unless something like defense & unearned runs makes someone look better than they were.

    But no pitcher in the league this year would likely even have F.H.'s 13-12 record on his team.

    Of Course J.T., the closer mound. Forgot that, but still, some then threw about 2x as many IP as a 4 man rotation, & about 3x as many as a 5 man rotation. Plus, they started & finished most everything-how close were their games bunched together in the season of many less games? If spread over 6 months like in subsequent years, it would also help explain the insane # of IP.

  85. For those who talk about Sabathia's "level of competition" being higher than Hernandez thanks to pitching in the AL East:

    The three lowest scoring teams in the American League were Seattle, Baltimore and Cleveland.

    Hernandez started four games against those teams.

    Sabathia started eleven.

  86. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Three highest scoring teams were NY, BOS, and TB. Sabathia started 9 games against them. Hernandez started 4.

    Baseball Prospectus measures quality of competition faced for each pitcher and batter. The avg OPS of Felix's batters faced was .728, slightly below AL avg. Sabathia's was .719, 4th lowest of 42 qualifying pitchers. (The spread from top (B. Matusz .744) to bottom (CJ Wilson .708) is probably worth about 10 runs over a full season, or almost a half-run of ERA.)

  87. I like that people bring up pitching in Coors when supporting Jimenez over Halladay and completely ignore Citizens Bank Park, as if it's suddenly some sort of pitcher's heaven.

  88. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Citizens Banks has played pretty neutral the last few years. It does increase homers, but not overall scoring.

  89. would hernandez have won the award if he finished 13 and 13 or 12 and 13 he could have easily been either.

  90. "...they just came up with a reason not to give it to C.C.""


  91. seriously,had cc won 28 games with the same other stats he would have won ,had lester or price won over 20 games they could have won also,they would have paid more attention to wins if more had won 20,13 and 12 is a crap record no matter who you play for,they gave a cy young award to someone who had a crap record on a crap team.he was barely a .500 pitcher.having a pitcher who was the war leader did not get seattle into the playoffs......seriously

  92. Mike Felber Says:

    MJR, no insult intended, but I guarantee most everyone is rolling their eyes at your comment. Sure, if CC had won 28 games-not done since the pitchers year of '68-he would have won. Since not only are those # of wins superficially impressive, he would have had to have been significantly better on almost all teams to do this.

    But you have engaged none of the arguments above. The fact that he had terrible run support is why his record was EXCELLENT. Nobody in the league could have done quite as well this year-on Seattle. We are telling you that looking at traditional or Saber #s should tell you he was the best. DO you not understand that W-L does NOT equate to how well he pitched?

    Also, that NOBODY in modern baseball history, or likely any human being ever, could have gotten Seattle to the playoffs alone. Take the best pitching performance ever, Ruth in his best year: Seattle lost 101 games. Clearly nobody could have alone gotten them even a .500 record.

    No one player on ANY sport with a whole team can possibly make a terrible team very good. None. Basketball has only 5 starters, so a Michael Jordon or Lebron James can have relatively more impact: & their is no pitching that is a huge part of the game. None of these guys could take their teams all the way: & even though many more teams have made the playoffs, if the rest of the team is as BAD as Seattle, they are unlikely to even make the playoffs: even though many mediocre teams have done so.

  93. Wins will always matter to Cy voters as it should. Price, CC and Felix were a wash. He wasn't a bad pick at all despite the fact I would have voted for Price. Putting up the best stats will never matter quite as much as it now does for Cy Young, and that too is the way it should be! Statheads can rejoice, but Felix also got a slight bump this year for being a bit slighted last year.

    ....and, yes Felix didn't pitch in a single game that mattered. That's just the facts. Again, congrats to Felix since he was a good choice as would have been the other two.

  94. should have read:

    Putting up the best stats will never matter quite as much t the MVP as it now does for Cy Young, and that too is the way it should be!