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August 26, 2010 at 9:37 AM

Felix Hernandez selling East Coast on his Cy Young Award credentials. How about the West Coast?

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Good morning to all of you. The Mariners flew home last night, having salvaged a .500 record on their longest trip of the year. Considering they went to New York and Boston, that rates as a bigger accomplishment than most probably thought they’d manage. Of course, it helps to have Felix Hernandez in the rotation and the M’s did, in fact, ride him to win their only games against the Yankees and Red Sox.
Hernandez allowed just one earned run versus those two AL East behemoths over 15 1/3 innings. That’s one reason why he’s starting to win over fans in that part of the country when it comes to his Cy Young Award credentials.
This guy writes the obvious, from Red Sox territory in Maine: Everything about Hernandez screams Cy Young except for his record.
There’s this bit from Knox Bardeen over at Fanhouse.
Felix Hernandez was, once again, fabulous on Wednesday. In 7 1/3 innings he struck out nine batters and gave up just four hits, lowering his ERA to 2.47. Everything about Hernandez screams Cy Young, except his 10 losses. Playing for Seattle has really hurt him in 2010.
But why should it hurt him?
At the risk of borrowing from a widely-used writing format, let me again make the point:
PITCHER A — 3.02 ERA, 187 2/3 IP, 151 K, 3.88 xFIP
PITCHER B — 2.47 ERA, 204 1/3 IP, 192 K, 3.26 xFIP
PITCHER C — 2.97 ERA, 157 2/3 IP, 151 K, 4.00 xFIP
On all planets, pitcher B should be the top guy. Pitchers A and C are C.C. Sabathia and David Price, respectively, the two guys a lot of folks — including readers of this blog — are touting as front-runners for the Cy Young race. I don’t get it. How can Price even be called a frontrunner when pitcher B — Hernandez, obviously — has thrown 47 more innings than him? That’s a diference of more than five complete games! Of nearly seven more seven-inning starts! How does that compute?
The only way is, if people still think won-loss records mean something.

There has been a call in some quarters for Clay Buchholz to be considered for the Cy Young, and he should. But his 2.26 ERA can’t be allowed to beat Hernandez right now when he’s thrown 60 (!!!) fewer innings with almost 100 fewer strikeouts.
Cliff Lee is a guy many of you here still feel is ahead of Hernandez.
And I say that’s no longer true. He’s thrown 30 fewer innings, has an ERA that’s now nearly two thirds of a run higher at 3.09 and 41 fewer strikeouts.
His FIP is better, but if we’re going to be fair, shouldn’t we normalize his home run/fly ball ratio by looking at xFIP? Hernandez leads him in that, 3.26 to 3.28. Even if we call it dead even, the 30-innings difference is huge.
That’s why I’m not including the league’s runaway FIP and xFIP leader, Francisco Liriano, in this discussion. He’s 53 innings behind Hernandez. But I’d have no problem vaulting Lee and Liriano ahead of Price.
The only thing Lee leads Hernandez in is complete games (7-to-5) his historic K/BB ratio of 15-to-1. We’ve addressed the complete games thing and how Hernandez would be equal of better than Lee had the Mariners not pulled him early from games he was dominating (vs. CHI, OAK and NYY the past six weeks) to preserve his arm.
As for the K:BB, it’s great, but, last I checked, the Cy Young is for a body of work, not for the fewest walks allowed.
I’m not mentioning W-L here because I feel that it’s meaningless. You want to see them? Go look it up.
But I find it interesting that many of the folks I’ve spoken to on this last road trip, or listened to over the airwaves, have no trouble viewing Hernandez as a Cy Young contender. It’s when I’m back home on the West Coast that I tend to get asked whether I’m crazy for mentioning Hernandez and Cy Young in the same breath.
Maybe that’s changed the last two weeks. Haven’t been home in a while. I know I’m still taking flak on this blog for the whole Hernandez and Cy Young thing. Not from all of you, and I’m glad there isn’t group-think going on here on this site. But for all the talk I’ve heard about East Coast bias the past few years, I haven’t seen much out there in regards to Hernandez on this last road trip.
So, for fans out West who think it’s a pipe dream Hernandez can win this thing, think again. He’s generated the buzz he had to and is right in the pack.
And it says here that if everything else stays the same numbers-wise relative to competitors and he wins no more that the 10 games he’s already captured, he deserves the crown. He’s done enough. And I think the folks back East have started to realize that.



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