Nov 20, 2009, 1:55 PM EDT
Since a big portion of the Baseball Writers Association of America seems to be beyond their past over-reliance on win-loss records to evaluate starting pitchers, can we have a good old-fashioned mulligan on the AL Cy Young vote from 2005?
Bartolo Colon, who won the award that year, had a 3.48 ERA, 157/43 K/BB ratio, and .244 opponents’ batting average in 223 innings.
Johan Santana, who did not win the award that year, had a 2.87 ERA, 238/45 K/BB ratio, and .210 opponents’ batting average in 232 innings.
Santana was clearly superior in just about every possible way, throwing more innings than Colon with an ERA that was 20 percent lower, racking up 50 percent more strikeouts with the same number of walks, and being 15 percent harder to hit. So how did Colon not only win the award, but win the award with 15 more first-place votes than Santana in a pool of 28 voters?
Colon was 21-8.
Santana was 16-7.
They may not care so much about that now, but the BBWAA were sure obsessed with win-loss records four years ago. The voters saw those 21 wins and ignored everything else, including the fact that Colon pitched for a 95-win team that provided him with 5.6 runs of support per nine innings. Santana pitched for an 83-win team that gave him 4.4 runs of support per nine innings. Colon received 30 percent more run support than Santana overall, including an amazing 10 or more runs eight times in 33 starts.
So yes, the BBWAA deserves credit for recently changing their stance and correctly rewarding the best pitcher in each league with the Cy Young award that’s supposed to go to the best pitcher in each league even when they didn’t have the best win-loss record. With that said, Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum are lucky that they weren’t trying to win the award in 2005 and it remains to be seen if the voters would have been willing to look beyond an otherwise inferior 20-game winner like Colon had there been one this year.
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