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November 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM

A few thoughts and reactions on the American League Cy Young award

So yesterday’s American League Cy Young voting was a bit of a surprise. I really thought Felix Hernandez would win the award by a slim margin, perhaps similar to Corey Kluber’s victory.

Why?

Well, with the numbers being very close in almost every aspect, I guessed that some voters would defer to Hernandez’s reputation and past success. It’s obviously not supposed to be a factor taken into a consideration when voting, but it has happened before.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, Kluber won by 10 points — 169-159.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.53.03 PM

In yesterday’s blog post, I posted the individual votes for all 30 members of the BBWAA selected to participate in the selection of this award. Here they are again.

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As you can see, I voted 1. Hernandez, 2. Kluber, 3. Sale, 4. Scherzer and 5. Lester.

With the numbers being so close, I felt that Hernandez’s MLB record-setting streak of 16 starts of seven or more innings pitched and two runs or less allowed put him over the top. That type of consistency for more than two months was absurd. Think about it, basically, he never had a clunker of a start during that time. He really didn’t have a mediocre start. If a “quality start” is defined as six innings pitched and three runs or fewer allowed, then Hernandez changed the idea of what a “quality start” should be for him.  Over the course of the season, he had 23 “Felix quality starts” of seven innings or more pitched and two or fewer runs allowed, while Kluber had 19.

Obviously, the fact that I saw him pitch in probably 30 of his 34 starts gave me a great appreciation for what he did.

Yet, I will not say that Hernandez was robbed or cheated. I understand why some fans are upset he didn’t win. But this isn’t a travesty, sham, mockery or travashamockery. The numbers are simply too close for some of the hyperbole.

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Is there a legitimate argument that Hernandez was more deserving? Yes. But is there an equally fair argument that Kluber was also deserving? Of course.

Kluber said this to Cleveland reporters: “I would’ve been in no position to have any kind of argument if he would’ve won. He had such a great year.”

I thought Hernandez was a little bit better than Kluber. Others thought Kluber was a little better. This isn’t like the NL vote, there wasn’t an easy answer in the American League. People obviously love to crush the BBWAA for it’s voting. And in the past, there has been plenty of reason to. But starting in 2010 when Hernandez won the Cy Young award with a 13-12 record, I think voters have become smarter and more attentive to the process, realizing the responsibility and privilege that comes with it. This wasn’t an easy choice. Each voter had their reasons for making the selection. You may not like the process or the rationale. But judging by most, there was thought and analysis that went into this.

As expected, Hernandez was gracious in defeat. He showed a lot of class. He didn’t have to show up and talk to us after coming up just short for pitching’s biggest honor. But he did. That’s what he does. It was like after he pitches eight shutout innings and the Mariners score no runs for him. It was obvious he was disappointed, but he was also nervous going into Wednesday because he believed it would be very close.  He said all the right things, and he meant them.

Reaction links … 

Here’s Larry Stone’s column, where he talks with a few voters about their decision to choose Kluber over Hernandez.

Jeff Sullivan wrote this blog post for USS Mariner. Sullivan actually wrote a preview for Fangraphs before the vote, noting how close the numbers were.

AJ Cassavell of USA Today credits advanced metrics as a big reason for Kluber’s win.

Buster Olney discusses Kluber’s growth in his blog.

Here’s the story on Kluber winning from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. There are some more links to coverage in the side box of the story.

This column by Terry Pluto outlines Kluber’s perseverance to get to this point in his career. It’s something you have to respect.

As my buddies over at @CespedesBBQ pointed out …

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Can’t hate Kluber because he likes Shiner Bock.

Kluber and NL rookie of the year Jacob deGromm both went to Stetson.

 

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