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November 12, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Felix Hernandez finishes second in the American League Cy Young award

11-12 — Felix

***

Like far too many of the games during his time with the Mariners, Felix Hernandez lost once again by one of the slimmest of margins.

On Wednesday, Hernandez came up just short in his bid for his second American League Cy Young award of his career.

Cleveland’s Corey Kluber edged out the Mariners’ ace to take home baseball’s top pitching honors in the AL. As expected, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw was the unanimous winner in the National League award.

“I don’t know what to say,” Hernandez said in a media gathering at Safeco Field. “It was tough. It ‘s a little disappointing. But you know what, it just gives me more motivation to keep working harder and harder and just be better next year.”

Kluber won the award with a total of 169 points, while Hernandez was a close second with 159 points. Chicago’s Chris Sale was a distant third with 78 points.

The difference in the vote, which is done by two members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in each AL city, came from the number of first place votes, which are worth seven points. Kluber received 17 first place votes, while Hernandez tallied 13. Had two first place votes been switched, Hernandez would have won.

The slim margin of the vote mirrored the performances and season statistics of Kluber and Hernandez in 2014.

Kluber finished with an 18-9 record and 2.44 ERA in 34 starts with three complete games and one shutout.

In 235 2/3 innings, Kluber struck out 269 batters – second most in the league. He also led the AL in advanced metrics like Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) at 2.34 with Hernandez at 2.56 and Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 7.3 compared to Hernandez’s 6.2.

Hernandez posted 15-6 record with a league-leading 2.14 ERA and 0.915 WHIP in a league-high 34 starts. That 2.14 ERA in 2014 was the lowest by an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 mark in 2000. Hernandez also led the league in opponent batting average (.200) and opponent on-base percentage (.243). He finished second in the league in innings pitched (236.0) and fourth in strikeouts (248).

But it was his record-setting streak of 16 consecutive starts of allowing two runs or fewer in at least seven innings pitched, which stretched from May to August that propelled him into being the favorite for the award. The previous record was 13 by Tom Seaver in 1971. Hernandez actually went 9-2 with four no-decisions during that span.

“It was a great year for everybody,” Hernandez said. “I just have to thank my teammates and the coaching staff. They did a great job. But next year but we are going to be better.”

Hernandez’s 2014 numbers seem impeccable and are better than in 2010 when he went 13-12 and led the AL in ERA (2.27), starts (34) and innings pitched (249.2). Did he think he was better this season by comparison?

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “It was a great year. I think I pitched way better than 2010.”

Despite being the odds-on  favorite for much of the season, it might have been a one shaky start at the end of the season that derailed Hernandez’s Cy Young hopes. While Kluber went 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his final six starts, Hernandez did have a clunker of a start in Toronto where he gave up a total of eight runs (just four earned) in a must-win game for Seattle. That game and its effects were analyzed and discussed during the televised show where the awards were announced. Did Hernandez think that one start might have swayed voters?

“I don’t know, probably,” he said. “But it’s just one start. What can I say?”

Hernandez wouldn’t say that kind of thinking was unfair from voters.

“They just vote,” he said grinning. “It’s not my fault. I just do my thing.”

Hernandez was gracious in defeat to Kluber.

“He had a great year,” Hernandez said. “Sale, Kluber and myself all deserve this award. But there is only one winner and it’s Kluber.”

While the award would have been appreciated, Hernandez’s focus is also on something larger and more encompassing.

“But you know what? My goal is to win the whole thing with this team right here, the Seattle Mariners,” he said. “The fans deserve it. Individual stuff doesn’t matter, it’s the team.”

 

Here is the voting breakdown …. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.53.03 PM

 

And here’s how individual voting goes … 

This includes my vote and the vote of my buddy and former co-worker John McGrath of the TNT

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.54.33 PM

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