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Nothing yet decided in the NL Cy Young race

Sep 16, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

Clayton Kershaw Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon I talked about how the NL Cy Young race was a three-headed monster between Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw.  Since then, all three of them have pitched. Here were their lines:

Halladay: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 7 K, 1 BB
Kershaw: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
Lee: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 12 K, 0 BB

Hmm. All frustratingly brilliant. I’m assuming that even if Kershaw hadn’t been tossed from his game that he still wouldn’t have given up any runs. Anyway.

Here’s how they now stand on the season:

Halladay: 18-5, 219.2 IP, 211 K, 30 BB, 8 CG, 2.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP
Kershaw: 19-5, 218.2 IP, 236 K, 51 BB, 5 CG, 2.30 ERA, 0.98 WHIP
Lee: 16-7, 29.2 IP, 223 K, 42 BB, 6 CG, 2.38 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

In other words, each pitched brilliantly and they remain virtually deadlocked. Which is kind of beautiful when you think about it.

  1. purnellmeagrejr - Sep 16, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    amazingly close.

  2. mercyflush - Sep 16, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    I posted this on the ATH thread, but it’s probably more appropriate here:

    last night was a perfect example of why Lee and Halladay should be slightly ahead of Kershaw in the Cy voting. That ball that Lopez hit in the 9th, if they were playing in Dodger Stadium, would have been an out. Lee and Doc have pitched half their games in a bandbox, with less room for error than Kershaw in that pitcher’s park. If he was pitching in LA last night, Lee gets his 7th shutout, 7th complete game and has an ERA even closer to Kershaw and Halladay than he is now (even though their ERA delta as of today is negligible). Not to mention the extra games Kershaw pitched against the AAA Pads and Giants that were always in huge pitchers’ parks, whether home or away.

    Another question – did Lee cost himself the CY on 1 pitch last night?? In a race this close, that extra complete game shutout could turn out to be a difference maker.

    As of today I’d vote 1. Halladay 2. Lee 3. Kershaw, and despite what I said about the home parks, they really are very close and Kershaw has been brilliant this year.

    • bleedgreen - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:38 AM

      The EXTRA CG SO? He’s got 6… Halladay has 1. I don’t think #7 would be the tipping point, in all honesty.

    • icanspeel - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      Based on that Lee should be disqualified.

      He lost to the AAA Padres

      07/25 vs SD L 4-5 4.0 IP 10H 5ER 1 BB 5 So

      In reality all 3 deserve it, but it will probably come down to 1 bad start disqualifying the next person.

      • mercyflush - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM

        “Based on that Lee should be disqualified.

        He lost to the AAA Padres”

        dumb statement.

        Are you trying to say that Kershaw did not have an advantage pitching against the Padres and Giants, both with the stadiums and with the quality of offense?

        Kershaw had 5 (!!) starts against the Giants, the absolute worst offense in baseball this season. In those 5 starts he had a 1.04 ERA.

        Again, not saying he hasn’t been brilliant, but in a race this close, you look a little deeper. To me, park factor and the Pads/Giants factor tips the Cy away from Kershaw.

    • Alex K - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      CBP has played almost exactly neutral this year. The ESPN Park Factors are: (Listed Year- Park Factor (MLB Rank) [National League Rank]

      2011- 1.002 (13) [6]
      2010- .991 (16) [9]
      2009- 1.028 (12) [6]
      2008- 1.029 (15) [9]
      2007- 1.034 (13) [5] *Dodger Stadium was a better hitters park this season
      2006- 1.063 (8) [5]
      2005- 1.156 (3) [2]
      2004- 1.024 (12) [6]

      This year Dodger Stadium is as follows:
      .908 (24) [13]

      This year Dodger Stadium has been the 3 worst place to hit in the National League, so if you want to take some of the shine off Kershaw for that I can’t argue.

      This is a long winded way of saying that CBP has really only been a bandbox in 2005. Every other year it’s been between the 5th and 9th best hitters park in the National League.

      • Jeff J. Snider - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

        I don’t know how the ESPN Park Factors are calculated, but I would assume at least part of why Dodger Stadium is the 3rd-worst place to hit in the NL is because every game there includes both the Dodger pitching staff and the Dodger offense, both of which lend themselves to poor offensive showings. :-)

    • dihigosghost - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:09 PM

      Dimensions between Dodger Stadium and Citizens Band Park are virtually identical. You are using a false argument.

  3. cinfante54 - Sep 16, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Lee: 16-7, 29.2 IP, 223 K, 42 BB, 6 CG, 2.38 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

    223 K in 29.2 IP?! Jeez forget the Cy Young, let’s get the World Record people for Cliff Lee. What’s the K/9 IP for that? That’s incredible

  4. phillydano - Sep 16, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    Lee should be 219.2 IP.

    Statistically, the award goes to Kershaw if the season ender today.

    But you need to consider his circumstance compared to Halladay and Lee. Halladay and Lee pitch in Citizens Bank Park, and if I am not mistaken people have written off the Phillies offence over the years because of the park. Well nows time to give props to the Phillies pitching.

    Kershaw pitches in a big yard in an offensively weak division.

    Regardless, Kershaw is the man, and would be deserving if he won the CYA. Just saying that it shouldnt be purely based on stats.

    • dihigosghost - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      Same size ballparks, again, a false argument.

  5. Jonny 5 - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    A band saw would fix this problem.

    • normb11 - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      Kershaw is my favorite, but I would give it to Halladay or Lee because Kershaw pitches a lot in LAD, SD, and SF.
      Home/Road split is pretty significant for him too.

      • paperlions - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:33 AM

        Exactly. If you take defense and park factors into account to isolate pitcher performance, Halladay is easily the leader.

  6. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 16, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Craig, I’m no stat geek, but even I would put ERA+ into the equation, so that the commenters would not freak out about the ban-box that is CBP.

    Halladay – 166
    Kershaw – 160
    Lee – 159(no including last night)

    I still say Doc is the Cy because of his consistency. Lee had a couple tough stretches between his brilliance in June and August. Kershaw is probably going to get it though because Lee and Halladay are going to split some votes while Kershaw will likely get every single vote west of the Mississippi.

    • Lukehart80 - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      Yeah, I’m sure no one West of the Mississippi has seen Halladay or Lee all season, or has seen their numbers. ESPN and the internet barely make it to Chicago, much less any further into the wilderness that is “Nottheeastcoast.”

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        LOL yeah that’s exactly what I meant.

  7. uberfatty - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    Three way tie!

  8. Jonny 5 - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    It’s got to come down to who has the best bat now doesn’t it?

    Cy Young was also know as a good batter, and this definately needs to become part of this conversation at this point imo.

    Cy Young= Cliff Lee?

    • paperlions - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      Nope, the voters are not supposed to consider non-pitching contributions….then again, MVP voters are not supposed to consider the standings, and they obviously do that.

  9. scapistron - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    ERA- adjusts for park

    Hallway 60
    Lee 61
    Kershaw 62

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      So does ERA+…(100*lgERA/ERA)

      Doc 166
      Lee 163(updated)
      Kershaw 159

  10. mercyflush - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    so… ERA- …. the lower the better correct? Halladay at 60 means that he’s 40% better than the league average, Lee 39%, Kershaw 38%, right?

    damn that is very close.

    • Jonny 5 - Sep 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      It comes down to the offense for me because of this. And Lee wins hands down. Cy Young wasn’t all about pitching. He was a gamer, and he could hit.

      • pbannard - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:07 PM

        Umm, might want to look at the stats before coming to that conclusion:

        Lee: 46 OPS+, 0.5 oWAR, 5 sacrifices
        Kershaw: 39 OPS+, 0.5 oWAR, 9 sacrifices

        (And the sacs are relevant here because pitchers are such bad hitters that a successful sacrifice does provide value)

        Halladay is significantly worse (-10 OPS+), but there’s really nothing to separate Kershaw and Lee as hitters, especially given the small number of plate appearances total. On a side note, the few advanced defensive stats available for pitchers have Lee and Kershaw about even and Halladay a little worse. My personal feeling is that there is a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove for reward pitchers for their hitting and fielding, and the Cy Young to reward them for what they do on the mound.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:13 PM

        I do believe that J5 was being a tad sarcastical in his pining for Lee based on hitting…that being said, Clifton has 2 bombs this year while Clayton has never hit one in 4 years. My vote is for Cliffy all the way.

  11. phillydano - Sep 16, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    lets put the stats away for now.

    honestly ask yourself, who would you want on the mound for your team in game 7 of the world series?

    Kershaw, Halladay or Lee?

    I’ll take Halladay. (And thats not because I may be a Phillies homer.)

    • phillydano - Sep 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      speaking of stats…

  12. The Baseball Idiot - Sep 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    According to Keith Law, Halladay and Kershaw can’t win it this year, because they didn’t pitch as many innings as Lee did.

    That’s the excuse he used to keep Carpenter from getting his vote in 2009. So he has to use the same reasoning this year, or look like a fraud.

    Excuse, look like more a fraud then he already is.

    • normb11 - Sep 16, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Right…cuz 1 inning difference is the same as 27. Good point. #sarcasm

      • The Baseball Idiot - Sep 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        Well,he either has standards, and then has to stick by them, or he ends up looking up like a punk who lied about the way he voted.

      • Alex K - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:02 PM

        You’re still upset about that?

        If the numbers are super close (like they are this year and were in 2009) then 1 inning is not enough of a difference to make a difference. However, 27 innings (or better put- at least three games worth of innings) is a big difference. Carpenter started 28 games in 2009 Vazquez started 32. There is a lot of value in those 4 extra starts.

        If you want to argue that He should have had Wainwright over Vazquez you might be right. Keith Law is a lot of things some positive some negative, but biased against any one team or inconsistent aren’t two of them.

      • normb11 - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:20 PM

        You really can’t see the difference in value between 1/9th of a game and 3 full games? Or are you just bitter because you’re a Cardinals fan or something?

    • snowbirdgothic - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      Actually, a closer examination of Mr. Law’s work indicates that he’ll cast his vote based on which of the three can make a better Madagscar vanilla creme brulee whilst simultaneously critiquing the latest Dennis Lehane novel and playing Carcassonne, in which case, Halladay wins hands-down.

  13. macjacmccoy - Sep 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I dunno, no one thought Lee was going to give up a run after pitching 8 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, and he did. Kershaw could have exploded and gave up 3 runs in the 7th. There’s just know way of knowing, so you count assume anything.

  14. spudchukar - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Once again, the error in thinking, is confusing who one thinks is better and who performs the best. Awards SHOULD go to the individual who puts up the best numbers that particular year. Over and over voters forget this. Keith Law, not only falls prey to this reasoning, he actually champions it. In an e-mail exchange, he told me, that I had my own reality, and that voting for the individual solely on numbers is NOT his MO, and only one way to evaluate a vote.

    Statements like, “If I had one pitcher to pitch a deciding game it would be…”, should have no bearing on yearly awards. Sure ballparks should enter the conversation, but the ESPN ballpark numbers fluctuate so dramatically from year to year, that their formula has to be questioned.

    Looks like a dead heat at this point, with the Dodgers’ defense negating any ballpark factors. Hopefully, someone will step forward in the final two weeks, but with 3 contenders that likelihood is slim. If I were forced to vote, I guess I would give it to Lee by a nose.

    • Alex K - Sep 16, 2011 at 1:15 PM

      And that year Vazquez put up numbers just as good as Carpenter over a longer period of time. How can you ignore 3 full games worth of IP?

      • paperlions - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:13 PM


      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        Um…because potatoman is a Cardinals fan?

      • Alex K - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        So is Paper!

      • spudchukar - Sep 16, 2011 at 3:03 PM

        Since when is a 2.87 ERA, just as good as a 2.24 ERA? In my book that is a stark difference. For argument sake, lets say Carpenter has those 4 more starts and gives up 5 ER in each. Hardly, his norm that year, but my point will be the same. He ends up with a better ERA than Vasquez.

        This year if you include pitchers with .63 more ERA than the 3 leaders the following hurlers join the Cy Young discussion: Cueto, Lincecum, Vogelsong, Hamels, Cain, Jurrjens and Kennedy. All good pitchers having fine years but hardly serious contenders for the CYA.

        Law’s vote was ignorant then, and it remains ignorant today.

      • Alex K - Sep 16, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        ERA isn’t a good measure of a pitchers preformance. Teammates have too much to do with it. If you look at their FIP which only measures things a pitcher has the most control over they were:

        JV- 2.77 FIP
        CC- 2.78 FIP

        Looks like they were basically the same to me. And Vasquez did it over more innings.

        We could go further and look at xFIP which normalizes Carpenters out of wack with the rest of his career homerun rate and it looks like this:

        JV- 2.77
        CC- 3.34

        I get it…you’re a Cardinals fan. We can even disagree and it’s no big deal. But to call that vote ignorant is just sour grapes.

      • spudchukar - Sep 16, 2011 at 3:51 PM

        FIP and xFIP so trivialize pitching stats, as to render them moot. Greg Maddux, may never have won a CYA, had he been judged by such power-pitching laden stats. ANY, stat that measures a pitcher’s ability that places over-arcing importance on K’s will never have a place in my book. It is equivalent to the slam-dunk. Showy, fan-pleasing, and without significant merit. Show me a pitcher who pitches to contact, lower pitch-count, less arm stress, pleasurable to play behind, and more likely to succeed in crisis innings, and I will take him every time.

      • Alex K - Sep 16, 2011 at 4:49 PM

        Greg Maddux’s FIP was under 3.00 for 7 straight years (1992-1998) because he didn’t walk anybody and didn’t give up HR’s. He probably would have won Cy Young awards using FIP. xFIP isn’t fair to use for him because it takes away one of his greatest skills- the ability to not give up HR’s (I don’t even think they have xFIP’s before 2002 anyway).

        Honestly there was no reason to put xFIP in my last post I just threw it out there even though it has no bearing on what actually happened. At the end of the day Carpenter didn’t give up those HR’s and they shouldn’t matter in the Cy Young voting.

        I just have a hard time with a persons teammates factoring in to an individual award. We’re going to have to agree to disagree because you’re never going to convince me that team defense should factor in to the CYA voting.

      • normb11 - Sep 16, 2011 at 5:33 PM

        Maddux led the NL in FIP in 92, 93, 94, and 95 and was 2nd in FIP in 96, and 97.

  15. lpd1964 - Sep 16, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    I think Ian Kennedy should be in the discussion.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Sep 16, 2011 at 3:49 PM

      now he is, I guess.

  16. thevandalen - Sep 16, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Keith Law loves the WAR… baseballreference says:

    WAR for Pitchers
    1. Halladay (PHI) 7.2
    2. Lee (PHI) 6.7
    3. Kershaw (LAD) 6.3
    4. Hamels (PHI) 5.2
    5. Kennedy (ARI) 4.7

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