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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

September 24, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Felix Hernandez gets key Cy Young endorsements

felixjays.jpg

(Felix Hernandez pitches against the Blue Jays on Thursday, a game in which he allowed two hits but lost 1-0. Photo by Associated Press).

I’m starting to read a barrage of influential national columnists come out in favor of Felix Hernandez in the American League Cy Young race.

Will that help sway the 28 Cy Young voters (two BBWAA members from each AL city)? Possibly, because having the stamp of approval from respected writers like Ken Rosenthal (FOX) and Buster Olney (ESPN) might make Hernandez more palatable to someone who is having trouble getting past the 12-12 record. But my survey last week of actual voters led me to believe that most are already very open-minded to Hernandez despite his record. In fact, I’m actually starting to get the sense that Hernandez has a good shot to win, even with a .500 record and so few victories.

Rosenthal writes today : “The award is not for Most Valuable Pitcher or best pitcher for a contending team. It is for best pitcher, period. And this season, Hernandez is that guy.”

And Olney chimes in with his ranking of the Cy Young race as of today: 1) Hernandez; 2) C.C. Sabathia; 3) David Price.

Joe Posnanski of SI.com (and his own blog) recently did an exhaustive game-by-game comparison of Hernandez and Sabathia and concluded: “There’s a reason that Hernandez has better numbers in all those crazy stats. “It’s because game in and game out Hernandez has pitched better than Sabathia.”

Other national types to support Hernandez include Jayson Stark of ESPN, Danny Knobler of CBSsports.com, Jeff Passan of Yahoo , and (modestly) Jon Heyman of SI.com.

Then there’s Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest, who earlier this week posted his case for C.C. Sabathia over Hernandez. I’ll let you be the judge.

Finally, here’s a fact sheet put out today by the Mariners’ public relations department in support of Hernandez. It’s long, but comprehensive, and makes a pretty compelling case:

Season — 12-12 with a 2.31 ERA (62 ER, 241.2 IP), 227 strikeouts and 29 quality starts in 33 total starts.

Last Start — Suffered a tough-luck loss throwing a CG 2-hitter in a 1-0 defeat 9/23 at Toronto…only run allowed came on a first-inning home run by Jose Bautista…over his last 2 starts has allowed only 5 hits and 2 runs in 16.0 IP, including carrying a no-hitter into the 8th inning in his start 9/17 vs. Texas.

Last 9 Starts — Over his last 9 starts (since 8/10) is 5-3 with a 0.94 ERA (7 ER, 67.1 IP).

Run Support — In 12 losses, has received 7 total runs of support (runs scored when he is in the game)…Mariners have scored 1 or fewer runs in 10 of 33 starts, and 2 or fewer runs 15 times…Mariners have not scored a run behind Felix in 7 of his last 13 starts…has the lowest run support average in the AL this season (3.09).

Something For the Effort — In 21 starts in which he has not record a win (12 L, 9 ND), has compiled a 3.34 ERA (53 ER, 143.0 IP)…in 9 no-decisions has a 1.92 ERA (14 ER, 65.2 IP).

Scoreless Frames — Has not allowed a run in 202 of 248 innings pitched in (not total IP)…allowed 1 or fewer runs in 228 of 248 innings (91.9%)…most scoreless frames in a season since CC Sabathia had 206 in 2008.

AL Leaders — Among AL starters, ranks 1st in ERA (2.31), 1st in innings pitched (241.2), 1st in strikeouts (227), 1st in quality starts (29), T1st in starts (33), 3rd in complete games (6), 3rd in opponents batting average (.213), T3rd in shutouts (1), 7th in K/9.0 IP (8.45), 8th in K/BB ratio (3.34) and T7th in opponent GIDP (23).

Top 5 — Is the only pitcher who ranks top 5 in the AL in innings (1st), strikeouts (1st), ERA (1st) and opponent average (3rd).

Sabermetrics — Among AL starters, ranks 2nd in WAR for pitchers (5.5), 1st in +WPA (18.20), 1st in WPA (4.67), 1st in Adjusted Pitching Wins (4.3), 1st in opponent OPS (.596), 2nd in Adjusted ERA+ (169), 2nd in WHIP (1.02), 3rd in xFIP (3.26), 5th in FIP (3.07) and 6th in GB/FB ratio (1.79). Stats from Baseball-Reference.com & Fangraphs.com.

Pretty Stingy — Leads the AL with 14 starts where he has allowed 1 or less runs in at least 7.0 innings…lasted at least 8.0 innings in 15 starts, including an AL leading 5 starts of 8.0 shutout innings…has 12 starts allowing 1 or fewer runs in 8.0 or more IP.

Innings Eater — Leads the AL with 241.2 innings pitched…next closest pitcher is at 229.1 (CC Sabathia).

Going Deep — Riding a single-season club record with 24 consecutive starts (May 23-current) pitching into at least the 7th inning…during the 24-start stretch, is 10-9, 1.80 ERA (37 ER, 184.2 IP) with 175 strikeouts.

Making a Case — Leads the AL in 2 of 3 pitching Triple Crown categories: Strikeouts (227) & ERA (2.31)…over the past 20 seasons there have been 13 pitchers who led their league in both ERA and strikeouts; 12 of them won the Cy Young…only exception was Pedro Martinez in 2002 (Barry Zito won).

30 Quality Starts? — Is projected to make 2 more starts this season…with one more quality starts will become the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2002 to record 30 quality starts in a season…since 1980, there have been 6 pitchers to record 30 QS in a season (Steve Carlton – 1980, Dwight Gooden – 1985, Mike Scott – 1986, Bret Saberhagen – 1989, Greg Maddux – 1992, Randy Johnson – 2002) and all won the Cy Young award that season.

Against the Best — Went 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA (1 ER, 26.0 IP) in 3 starts against the New York Yankees…threw a 2-hit shutout on June 30, becoming the first pitcher to throw a shutout at new Yankee Stadium…against teams in the playoff hunt (CIN, MIN, NYY, SD, TEX), has posted a 2.58 ERA (28 ER, 97.2 IP)…in 7 starts vs. the AL East, was 5-1, 0.63 (4 ER, 57.1 IP).

Post All-Star Break — Has a 1.56 ERA (18 ER, 104.0 IP) in 14 starts following the All-Star break…currently the 3rd-lowest by an AL starter post-ASG over the last 25 years: R. Clemens (0.97 in ’90), J. Santana (1.21 in ’04), J. Santana (1.59 in ’05).

Quality Starts — Recorded a quality start in 29 of 33 starts this season, tying his own club record set last season…had string of 17 consecutive quality starts snapped 9/11 at LAA…has recorded a quality start in 42 of last 46 starts, including club-record 18-QS streak Aug. 1, 2009-April 26, 2010.

Shutout Starts — Has made 6 starts this season in which he has not allowed a run (all of at least 7.0 innings)…since his debut in 2005, has recorded 24 starts in which he did not allow a run (min. 6.0 IP).

1,000 K’s — Recorded his 1,000th career strikeout Aug. 25 at Boston (G#2)…at 24 years, 139 days, Hernandez became the 4th-youngest pitcher in Major League history to reach that mark, behind Bob Feller (22), Bert Blyleven (23) and Dwight Gooden (23)…career K total is currently 1,037.

200 K’s — Has recorded 200 strikeouts for the 2nd consecutive season (currently leads MLB with career-high 227 K’s)…one of only 3 Mariners to record multiple 200-strikeout seasons (R. Johnson-7, M. Langston-4).

August — Went 3-2 with AL-leading 0.82 ERA (4 ER, 43.2 IP) in 6 August starts…led the AL with 51 strikeouts in his 6 starts…2nd-lowest ERA by a Mariners pitcher in ANY month (Mark Langston, 0.50, September 1988).

Adding Them Together — Over last 2 seasons, has gone 31-17 with a 2.40 ERA (128 ER, 480.1 IP) and 444 strikeouts…leads the Majors with 58 quality starts (includes 27 starts of 7.0 or more innings, 3 or fewer ER) since the start of 2009…looking to become first pitcher since Rogers Clemens (2.43 in 2004-05) to post a sub 2.50 ERA over a 2-season stretch (min. 400.0 IP).

2009 — Finished 2nd in AL Cy Young award in 2009…went 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA (66 ER, 238.2 IP)…became just the 2nd pitcher in club history to post a season of 200.0 IP, 200 K’s, 15 W and sub 3.00 ERA…Randy Johnson accomplished this in 1995 & 1997.

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