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Zack Greinke captures AL Cy Young with 25 of 28 first-place votes

Nov 17, 2009, 2:35 PM EDT

Zack Greinke took home his first Cy Young award this afternoon, receiving 25 of 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. He was second on the other three ballots.
Of the three first-place votes not given to Greinke, two went to Felix Hernandez and one went to Justin Verlander. Greinke should have been a unanimous selection, because he was clearly the best pitcher in the league, but Hernandez was at least great enough that a pair of voters putting him atop their ballot isn’t completely absurd.
However, one of the 28 professional writers picked to vote for the league’s best pitcher choosing Verlander is silly and not surprisingly it was Steve Kornacki of Booth Newspapers in Michigan. Verlander is an excellent pitcher who had an outstanding year, and surely Kornacki would tout his AL-leading 240 innings and 19 wins. Of course, if given anything resembling a decent supporting cast Greinke would have surpassed 19 wins and he logged just 11 fewer than innings than Verlander … while allowing 35 fewer runs.
Greinke had a 2.16 ERA in 229 innings. Verlander had a 3.45 ERA in 240 innings. Unless you’re misguidedly still focusing on win-loss records as the sole means to evaluate pitchers or you’re simply a huge Tigers fan (or a reporter paid to cover the Tigers), there’s really no way to justify giving Verlander a first-place vote. He wasn’t better than Hernandez or Roy Halladay, let alone Greinke. Whatever the case, the real story should obviously be Greinke rather than some writer in Detroit deciding to give Verlander an undeserved vote.
Kansas City’s ace had an amazing season for a terrible team, posting the lowest ERA of any American League starter since Pedro Martinez in 2000 and the best mark of the past 20 years from someone other than Pedro or Roger Clemens. He started the season by going 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA, finished it by going 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA, and in between put well-chronicled off-field issues as well as some on-field struggles behind him to establish himself as the league’s best pitcher at the age of 25.

  1. Luke - Nov 18, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    @ Dan
    You can say that because somebody deserves to win the award, that they should logically also receive all of the first-place votes, but how many voted-on awards end up with truly unanimous results? It’s very few. The last Unanimous Cy Young Award winner was Jake Peavy in 2007. If you look at the last 10 years, Only Peavy and Santana (twice) have won the award unanimously. That’s 3/18. Or one out of every six. Sub-Mendoza territory, my friend.

  2. Bill@TDS - Nov 18, 2009 at 3:42 PM

    This is actually a reply to me, yeah? But I don’t care at all for these purposes what the actual results are. I’m interested in the responses of people like Dan (and Rob Dibble on xm last night) that suggests that, while Greinke deserved to win, Hernandez and/or Verlander deserved more first-place votes. That seems preposterous to me, since what you’re essentially saying is that Greinke deserved to win, but more people should have disagreed with you about that fact.

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