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My ballot: National League Cy Young

Nov 19, 2009, 11:45 AM EDT

Later today the Baseball Writers Association of America will announce their choice for NL Cy Young, but first here’s how my ballot would look:
1. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
2. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis
3. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
4. Javier Vazquez, Atlanta
5. Dan Haren, Arizona
This is a tight race, so it’ll be an interesting test of whether the BBWAA has truly moved past focusing on win-loss records to evaluate pitchers or if they were merely willing to do so with Zack Greinke because he was so clearly the best guy in the AL.
Adam Wainwright led the NL with 19 wins and had a great year, posting a 2.63 ERA and 212/66 K/BB ratio in 233 innings. He also just wasn’t as good as Tim Lincecum, who had a 2.48 ERA and 261/68 K/BB ratio in 225 innings. Wainwright logged eight more innings than Lincecum, but allowed six more runs with 20 percent fewer strikeouts and the same number of walks, and his opponents’ batting average was 40 points worse. We’ll see how many voters focus on that rather than Lincecum’s modest 15 wins.
And then there’s Chris Carpenter, who led the league with a 2.24 ERA and ranked second to Wainwright with 17 wins. At first glance that would make him the favorite, but it’s important to note that Carpenter logged only 193 innings to rank 26th in the NL. Is the difference between his 2.24 ERA and Lincecum’s 2.48 ERA bigger than the difference between his 193 innings and Lincecum’s 225 innings? Or put another way, if Carpenter tossed 32.2 more innings with a 3.85 ERA he’d match Lincecum in innings and ERA.
Certainly a 3.85 ERA in 32.2 innings isn’t dominant pitching, but it does have value and that gap between Lincecum and Carpenter makes it worth examining workloads along with ERAs. Lincecum was second-best in the NL at preventing runs with an ERA that’s 10 percent higher than Carpenter’s, but he threw 20 percent more innings. He also led the NL in Zack Greinke’s new favorite stat, Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and saved slightly more runs than Carpenter compared to a replacement-level pitcher.
This is a very tight race and my guess is that Carpenter will win the award because of his lower ERA, higher win total, and a dramatic comeback from arm injuries making for a much better story, but Lincecum is the reigning Cy Young winner and was actually better than last season even if his win total kept many people from realizing it. He gets my nod for the best pitcher in the league, just barely over Carpenter, because of a higher workload and more dominance with similar overall run prevention.

  1. Alan - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    Tim is a good pitcher but he pitches in the NL West, the worst division in baseball. I wonder if we would be so foolish as to sign a long term deal with the midgets, I mean the giants. He would be much smarter to just play out his days in San Francisco and go to a team that has the capabilities of winning. He would make a lot more money too.
    I personally thing that one of the Cardinals should receive the CY Young award. I understand your reasoning but I don’t buy into it. Chris Carpenter should be the man.

  2. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    Too late. they gave it to Lincecum, and a very dubious decision at best. Just because he had more strike outs? Carp. had more wins and lower ERA. he played on a team with a dubious “closer” who blew several for Carpenter. Very poor decision.

  3. The Great Dane - Nov 19, 2009 at 3:08 PM

    Dubious? Dubious how? Carp had more W’s. Completely irrelevant. Better ERA. Sort of relevant, even though (ahem) dubious calls by scorekeepers influence that stat. Dubious closer. Completely, completely, completely irrelevant.
    I wouldn’t have complained, if Carp had taken it, but your kind of argument makes me feel good about Lincecum taking it.

  4. Larry Bird - Nov 19, 2009 at 5:03 PM

    Tim Lincecum is a pot head. What is this decision telling our young. That it’s okay to smoke pot? I don’t buy that he made a mistake. Pot is an illegal drug, many other people would still be in jail over this issue. The only mistake he made was getting caught.
    One of the sports writers said over a month ago that Lincecum would win this award before the end of the season. He said that Carpenter and Wainwright didn’t have a chance.
    How our sports writers sing different tunes these days. I guess smoking pot is okay with them. How many off them are doing this drug?

  5. Steven - Nov 19, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    Larry,
    What, exactly, is wrong about smoking pot? There are many worse things young people can be doing other than getting high. And seriously, who fuckin’ cares if he smokes?

  6. Fast Eddy - Nov 19, 2009 at 7:02 PM

    Do you have any idea just who Cy Young was? he didn’t become the great Cy Young by winning 15 games a year and smoking pot. The entire record of the pitcher for the season should be considered. The best overall record was Carpenter or perhaps Wainwright. Lincecum should never win a Cy with 15 victories on a contending team. If he played for the Pirates, then he may have earned the award.

  7. Alex L. - Nov 19, 2009 at 11:39 PM

    Do you have any idea who Cy Young is? You do know he has the record for the most losses right? So Zack Duke should have won it then right since we’re talking about wins and losses? What relavence does being on a contending team have since he only starts 1/5 of the teams starts? If awards was based on the character or morality of a player then 80% of the winners should return their award back. Last time I checked, Cy Young award nominees isn’t applying for sainthood.

  8. Peter R - Nov 20, 2009 at 1:38 AM

    NL West the worst division in baseball??
    What planet were you on last season?
    In case you missed the playoffs, the Wild Card team came from the NL West, The Giants had a winning record and were in the WC hunt until mid September, when in late April the pundits were speculating on SF losing 100 games this season.
    Timmy was quite deserving, as were Carpenter and Wainwright. Vasquez and Haren also deserved consideration.

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