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November 18, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Felix Hernandez wins the AL Cy Young Award

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In an otherwise dismal season for his team, Felix Hernandez maintained a consistent level of excellence rarely demonstrated by the other 24 players around him. And today, for the second time in Mariners history, they have a Cy Young Award winner in their midst.
Hernandez was selected the AL Cy Young winner, notching 21 of 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America, outdistancing rivals David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees. Price garnered four first-place votes, while third-place finisher Sabathia had three.
Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox was fourth. Jered Weaver of the Angels placed fifth.
Randy Johnson was the only previous M’s Cy Young winner, capturing the prize in 1995.
Hernandez’s victory may have set an historic precedent in terms of how “wins” by a pitcher are viewed. His 13 wins sets a new low for that total by a Cy Young-winning starting pitcher, surpassing the previous 15 by NL winner Tim Lincecum last season.
The previous low in wins by an AL starting pitcher also came last season, when 16-game-winner Zack Greinke took home the prize.
Photo Credit: AP


In winning the award, Hernandez had to overcome not only his competitors, but the handicaps presented by his own team. The Mariners supplied him with the worst offense of the designated-hitter era, a group of bats that often struggled to score a single run when he was on the mound.
That fact alone was most responsible for his scarcity of wins, despite statistics in other areas that easily bettered his closest competitors.
Hernandez led the league with a 2.27 ERA and 249 2/3 innings pitched. He finsihed second with six complete games and 232 strikeouts.
Being top-2 in those categories would usually be enough to guarantee a 20-win season for a pitcher. This year, they barely got the 13-12 pitcher to an above-.500 record.
Hernandez had to battle not only the perception he couldn’t win — despite it being more of an offensive than a mound issue — but also the fact that his team didn’t play a meaningful game after May. There was also the issue of him being outpitched for two months by a guy on his own team — Cliff Lee.
But Lee, who finished 7th in voting, was traded in July and tailed off for several weeks because of a back issue. Prior to that, Lee had been considered by many as the Cy Young frontrunner.
Hernandez never wavered and eventually surpassed Lee in most major categories.
What it came down to was whether voters would be willing to overlook his scarcity of wins and accept his other numbers. In the end, that’s exactly what most of them did.
Voting results:
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners 167 points
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays 111 points
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees 102 points
Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox 33 points
Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels 24 points
Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox 20 points
Cliff Lee, Seattle Mariners/Rangers 6 points
Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay Rays 5 points
Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics 4 points
Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals 2 points
Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins 1 point
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers 1 point
Here is the list of how voters gave their first-place ballots:
Hernandez: Ken Rosenthal, Fox; Amalie Benjamin, Boston Globe; Michael Silverman, Boston Herald; Erik Boland, Newsday; Joe Smith, St. Petersburg Times; Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune; Lynn Henning, Detroit News; John Lowe, Detroit Free Press; Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star; Joe Posnanski, SI.com; Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune; John Shipley, St. Paul Pioneer Press; Hirokazu Higuchi, Chunichi Shimbun (LA); Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports; Jorge Ortiz, USA Today; Ray Ratto, At Large (SF/Oakland); Kirby Arnold, Everett Herald; Larry Stone, Seattle Times; Richard Durrett, At Large (Dallas-Fort Worth); Anthony Andro, Fort Worth Star Telegram; Morgan Campbell, Toronto Star.
Price: Mel Antonen, USA Today; Tony Fabrizio, Tampa Tribune; Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune; Chris Assenheimer. Elyria (OH) Chronicle.
Sabathia: George King, New York Post; Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun; Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon Journal.

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