(David Price photo by Associated Press)
Congratulations to David Price of the Rays, who is this year’s American League Cy Young in a very close vote over Justin Verlander of the Tigers, with Jered Weaver third, Felix Hernandez fourth, and Fernando Rodney fifth.
Within the above link is the full list of ballots from the 28 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (two from each AL city) who voted — including me. John Hickey, formerly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and I were the two Seattle voters. My ballot mirrored the final result, except for a reversal of the top two. Here’s how I voted:
Frankly, I have little problem with Price winning, though I obviously feel Verlander was the better candidate; that’s why I voted him first. But Price had a great year in his own right and is hardly a choice anyone needs to apologize for. Having argued two years ago that win-loss record is highly overrated while making Felix Hernandez’s Cy Young case, I tried to put aside Price’s 20-5 mark (compared to 17-8 for Verlander) and look at the other numbers. Verlander had more innings, more strikeouts, a better WHIP and a higher ERA-plus. The fact the Rays won all five of Price’s September starts (4-0, 2.68) gave me pause, but Verlander was 5-1, 1.93 in September. In the end, I just felt he was a little better.
I also had a big struggle with the third and fourth spots on the ballot, though I had a hunch they wouldn’t really matter in determining the winner. While Hernandez had a big edge on Weaver in innings pitched (232 to 188.2) and strikeouts (223 to 142), Weaver had the better ERA (2.81 to 3.06) and ERA-plus (134 to 122), while leading the league in WHIP (1.02, to Hernandez’s 1.14). In the end, though, what swayed me toward Weaver was Hernandez’s September skid — six starts, an 0-4 record, and a 6.62 ERA. With his team battling for a playoff spot, Weaver went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his final four starts prior to a one-inning token appearance against the Mariners after the Angels were eliminated.
The frustrating part for Hernandez, and Mariners fans, is that Hernandez’s September cost him much more than just a third-place vote. It cost Felix his second Cy Young Award. If the vote had been held on Aug. 28, the day after Hernandez’s five-hit shutout against the Twins — his fourth shutout in a nine-start span that include a perfect game against the Rays — Hernandez probably would have been the unanimous Cy Young.