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

November 18, 2010 at 9:02 AM

My Cy Young vote, and other Cy thoughts


(Photo by Associated Press)

The announcement of the American League Cy Young Award winner will come at 11 a.m., our time, and I fully expect Felix Hernandez to be the winner. I will be shocked — and disappointed — if he isn’t.

I know for sure he has two first-place votes out of the 28 (two from each of the 14 American League cities). My colleague Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald revealed his ballot in a column last Sunday,and this is how he went:

1, Felix Hernandez

2, Jered Weaver

3, C.C. Sabathia.

4, David Price

5, Jon Lester

I happened to have the other Seattle vote. I’ll reveal my full ballot in a bit (no peaking!!!), but I’ll give away the lead: I, too, gave my first-place vote to King Felix.

I honestly find it hard to see how someone can come to any other conclusion, Felix was so dominant this season, in virtually every category except victories. And I believe that my BBWAA brethren have seen the light in regard to over-valuing wins. Last year’s vote in favor of Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum made a statement, but it would be much more radical to give the Cy Young to Felix with his 13-12 record. Toward the end of the season, there seemed to me to be a true grass-roots movement toward Hernandez — jump-started, to a large extent, by Geoff Baker in his Seattle Times Mariners blogs. By the end of the year, influential national writers like Buster Olney, Jayson Stark, Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, Joe Posnanski (who happens to have a vote — give Felix three out of 28) and Jeff Passan were all advocating for Felix.

Tom Tango made a very good point in a recent blog post on his “Inside the Book” website. Tango is a statistical analyst for some MLB teams, including the Mariners (making him their leading employee named after a dance step since broadcaster Rich Waltz left for the Marlins). Tango, in a response to this column by former New York Times writer Murray Chass, wrote that this year’s Cy Young vote in the American League is not really a referendum on the “new-fangled stats” that Chass rails against. It’s really a referendum on the value of the win-loss record, because Felix dominates the old-fashioned stats, such as ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and opponents batting average.

As Tango writes: “If we focus only on the traditional stats you presented (ERA, BA, IP, K), Felix looks unbeatable. If you focus on the new-fangled stats (FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching; WAR or Wins Above Replacement; WPA or Win Probability Added), Felix looks strong, but not unbeatable. And a reasonable argument can be made for several pitchers by using the new-fangled stats.”

I’m an old dog, but I’ve done the best I can to integrate the new statistics like WAR and FiP and xFIP and WPA into my thought process, and consider them along with the old standbyes like ERA and strikeouts. This was an incredibly hard ballot to fill out this year because there were about 10 guys who could have warranted top 5 votes. I feel bad for leaving Jered Weaver, Francisco Liriano, Clay Buccholz, Justin Verlander and Trevor Cahill (not to mention Mariano Rivera and Joakim Soria) off the ballot. Thank goodness they expanded the ballot from three to five this year. But until they expand it to 10, a la the MVP, there are going to be some worthy people unfortunately left off, particuarly in a pitching-dominated year like this one.

So, without further ado, here’s my ballot:

1, Felix Hernandez, Mariners

2, David Price, Rays

3, Cliff Lee, Rangers

4, Jon Lester, Red Sox

5, CC Sabathia, Yankees



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