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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

King Felix 

The Clarion Content is annoyed that the baseball playoffs suddenly have to take two days off before starting the League Championship Series in the middle of what has already been an exciting October. But we will concede the reality of modern stadium scheduling, note that the NFL has already moved the start times of some games to avoid conflicts with the MLB playoffs, and accept this interlude to write about one of the other baseball stories of the season that we never quite had the chance to get to, the American League Cy Young award.

Incidentally, despite the terrific season turned in by Derek Jeter, the incomparable Joe Mauer clearly deserves to win the A.L. MVP. The A.L. Cy Young is a much more complicated debate. The Yankees C.C. Sabathia led the league in wins with 19. He lost eight and compares poorly with the other contenders in ERA at 3.37. But what also hurt Sabathia's candidacy was that he played for the spectacular 100 win Yankees. How hard was it to win? His team led the league in offense. Sabathia's out, he need to win 22 or 23 to have a case.

And that brings us to the next candidate, the Royals Zack Greinke. Greinke, by way of comparison, pitched for a 65 win Kansas City team that tied for the A.L.'s worst record. Greinke also led the A.L. in ERA. Greinke won only 16 games, but the next most wins that anyone had on the Royals was Brian Bannister's seven. Eeeeew.

We can't rule Greinke out, but how does he compare to last year's winner Toronto's Roy 'Doc' Halladay? This year Halladay won 17 games, one more than Greinke with a 2.79 ERA to Greinke's 2.16. They both pitched around 230 innings. Hallday threw four shutouts to Greinke three. Halladay's team was barely better than Greinke's, finishing a modest 5 games ahead of the Royals in the league standings. Last year when Halladay won the Cy Young he had 20 wins. Although a bad precedent was set by giving the 2006 N.L. Cy Young to Brandon Webb, the Clarion Content is loathe to give the award to someone with only 16 wins.

If we had a vote, we believe we would cast it for the Seattle Mariners 'King' Felix Hernandez. He finished second in the league with a 2.49 ERA. He led the league with 19 wins. He didn't play for a super team. The Mariners without Felix's brilliant 19 up and 5 down would have been six games under .500. Nobody else won more than seven games on the Mariners. Hernandez's .792 winning percentage was the A.L.'s best. The thing that really sealed it for the Clarion Content was his sterling finish. Greinke was 4-0 out of the gate with a 0.84 ERA, but 12-8 the rest of the way. King Felix was Hernandez went 15-2 with a 1.98 ERA after mid-May.

A close race, but our vote goes to Hernandez, with Greinke second, and Halladay third. Sabathia can luxuriate in the fact that he is the only one of the four still pitching this season.

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