Friday, August 8, 2008
Cy Young Frontrunners
The Jays are playing the Indians this week, and we'll be lucky enough to watch arguably the top two pitchers in the AL pitch on consecutive days. They won't get a chance to face off against each other - Doc pitches tomorrow against Byrd, and Lee goes Sunday vs Richmond.
Lee's a great story - a guy who came back from pretty much the worst year of his career, where he'd spent some time in AAA, to absolutely dominating the AL.
Doc is doing what he's always done - eating up a ton of innings while putting out a dominant performance. For what it's worth, I think he's having the best year of his brilliant career.
Lee's got a better chance of winning the Cy Young if he keeps this up - he's got all the pretty stats that writers go for in Win/Loss record (15-2 for Lee vs 13-8 for Doc). Lee also has a 2.58 ERA, slightly better than Doc's impressive 2.77 ERA. I don't expect the writers to look at much more than ERA, K's, and Win/Loss record, so if Lee can keep this up he'll probably get the majority of the votes.
But does that mean that he's actually been the best pitcher in the league, deserving of the award? I'll take a look here to find out if Lee's really deserving.
Lee has a phenomenal K:BB rate at 127:22, good enough for a 5.77 K:BB rate. Doc's ain't that bad either, at 149:29, which gives him a 5.13 K:BB rate. Doc makes up for it with a 1.98 GB rate. Cliff isn't the groundball specialist that Doc is, and he comes in with a 1.14 GB:FB ratio.
I usually look at ERA+ to help when the pitching stats are very close like they are here. Cliff Lee is the winner in that, with an incredible 168 to Doc's 151. Now, if I was to base this solely on the ERA+, Lee would be the winner. But there's one more stat that's in Halladay's favour.
Roy's pitched 175 1/3 innings, while Lee has pitched 153 2/3 innings. So to this point in the season, Halladay has thrown 21 2/3 innings more than Lee. Halladay is projected to throw 242 innings (!!!) while Lee is projected to throw 214.
I think the amount of innings thrown by Doc' gives him a bit of an advantage over Lee. Lee's stats may be better, but by pitching more Halladay has had a bigger impact on the Jays team. And if the projections pan out, Doc will end up throwing nearly 30 innings more than Lee.
If you look back to last year, a similar situation occurred. CC Sabathia won the Cy Young award over Beckett, despite Beckett posting arguably better numbers. The reason CC won - or at least most likely won - is the fact he pitched nearly 40 innings more than Beckett.
When the season's over, I still think Lee will win the award. He's got the pretty stats I mentioned early, and in those stats he's significantly better than Doc. But if these guys keep pitching like they do now, I think that at the end of the year, Halladay's the one who should be winning the award.