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pudge (1)

pudge
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Journal of pudge (1)

Tuesday September 23, 2003
10:47 PM

Cy Young

[ #14871 ]

I have no idea why, but many baseball people think the most important statistic in determining who is the best pitcher. Winning is a function of a team effort, and alone is a poor determinant of best picher.

Case in point: in 1990, Bob Welch got 27 wins for the Oakland A's, an absurd amount of wins. He had a great year all around. But the reason he got 27 wins was not because he had a great year; he had a great year because he was, statistically speaking, the third luckiest pitcher since WWII. By that, I mean that he won because his relief pitchers and hitters won the games for him. If you give him a league average bullpen and batters, his .816 winning percentage would have been .589.

Contrast to Roger Clemens that year, who was better than Welch in every major category: fewer hits, earned runs, home runs, walks per inning pitched, and more strikeouts. In fact, his 1.93 ERA (vs. Welch's 2.95 -- yes, more than one run per 9 inning game difference) was the best of Clemens' storied career. The only thing Welch had better was the wins (27-6 vs. 21-6).

There is simply no doubt that Clemens was the best pitcher in the American League that year. But Welch won, because he had more wins, which he had because his team was better than Clemens' team, not because he was a better pitcher.

And now we are seeing similar injustice. Pedro Martinez has a 14-4 record, compared to frontrunner Roy Halladay's 21-7. Pedro has a better winning percentage (unlike Clemens vs. Welch) -- second best in the league -- and leads the league down the line in terms of hits, ERA, strikeouts, and strikeouts per walk. But Pedro has suffered from a terrible bullpen, the worst in Boston in many years. He has 10 no decisions -- unheard of for him -- which includes 3 blown saves, and 3 with no run support (where he gave up only 1 run through 7 or more innings).

Halladay has not been the victim of any blown saves, and has only once had a no decision in a game where he gave up only one run through 7 or more innings: when he took a 1-run tie with the Red Sox into the ninth.

If you give those pitchers those wins, now Pedro is 20-4 and Halladay is 22-7, and Pedro is the frontrunner.

Of course, you can't just do that, you can't just give a pitcher wins. But the point is that pitchers do not determine wins, teams do. This is a team sport. But the purpose of the Cy Young award is to find the best pitcher. In 1990, that was clearly Roger Clemens. This year, it is clearly Pedro Martinez.

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  • He coulda been a serious contender for Cy Young if he didnt go down with an injury. It would have been an interesting vote given Smoltz is in the bullpen. But I digress...

    I agree 10 no decisions is brutal, but Maddox has also suffered similar fates over the years. He finally resorted to pitching complete games (not to mention throwing a fit if he was taken out), it was the *only* way he could control his own destiny.

    Maybe Martinez needs to save some juice so he can go 9 innings and not have to trust th
    • But that's not the point. The Cy Young should go to the best pitcher. Wins, by definition, are measure of the best team, not the best pitcher. Yes, a better pitcher will usually win more than other pitchers, but this is not always the case. It is, however, always the case that the pitcher with the best ERA is the best.
      • It is, however, always the case that the pitcher with the best ERA is the best.

        There's more to being an effective starting pitcher than having a low ERA. Pedro only averaged 6 1/2 innings per game this season, and is going to finish with less than 200 innings pitched. There's no denying he had a great season when he was in there, but in my opinion he missed too much time and and got pulled early too often to deserve the Cy Young this year.

        • Yes, but consider 1. the IP/GP is largely a function of some short outings because of injuries, and that in five of the six games in question, he went 7 innings or more.

          Say what you want about innings pitched, but if you take those five games where he should have won if the rest of the team had done their job -- where he pitched 7 or more innings -- he has 19 wins (going for 20 on Friday), which is plenty to get consideration for the Cy Young Award, for most baseball writers.
          • If you're going to give him credit for games he should have won, you should take away credit for games where he didn't "do his job". 4 of Pedro's wins came in games where he pitched less than 7 innings, and 2 of those 3 have come in the last month's stretch drive, after he'd returned from his injury.
            • Oh, come on. Nice way to lie with statistics. Every single one of those games is when the Red Sox had a big lead. He left after 6 with a 10-run lead, 3 with a 9-run lead, 6 with 7-run lead, and 6 with an 8-run lead. And he left with big leads because the sorry bullpen needed some work.
  • He coulda been a serious contender for Cy Young if he didnt go down with an injury. It would have been an interesting vote given Smoltz is in the bullpen.

    Willie (a.k.a. Guillermo) Hernandez won the Cy Young and MVP as a reliever for the Tigers in 1984. Of course, he went 9-3 with a 1.92 ERA and saved 32 out of 33 chances (the only blown save was the last game he pitched that year - ouch).

    FYI, the Tigers began that season 35-5 and were never out of first place that year.

    This year, on the other hand,

  • Agreed. It's similar to the situation with NFL quarterbacks. There's no special award for QBs like the Cy Young, but a lot of people judge QBs simply by their teams' record. Or, similarly, rank the all-time best QBs by how many Super Bowls they won.

    On the other hand, when the team stinks, win-loss ratio *is* an interesting gauge for pitchers. The 1972 Phillies were horrible, almost losing 100 games (59-97). But Steve Carlton had a 27-10 record [baseballlibrary.com], which is mind-boggling.

    • With QBs it is different in that *nothing* the QB does is of his own power alone). So you must rate him on things that require cooperation with teammates, including completion percentage, if you are to rate him at all. But yeah, rating him based on W-L and championships makes no sense. Does anyone really think Tom Brady is a greater QB than Dan Marino was?

      What makes it so infuriating in regard to pitchers is that we do -- unlike any other major sport, except for free throw percentage in basketball -- ha