Every season the usual suspects are rounded up as the pre-season favorites to win the post-season prizes and the NL Cy Young is not exempt of those petty prognostications.
Following his trade from Minnesota last winter Johan Santana was expected to decimate the Senior Circuit and square off in a mano-y-mano, season-long battle with Jake Peavy for the big NL trophy.
That’s why they play the games.
Now that the 2008 season has come and gone, we here at Bugs & Cranks put our best minds together to make a case for the top title contenders. As Rudy Giuliani said last week, political races are decided based upon the one question the voter is asking him-or-herself when casting their ballot, so why should a major league pitching award be any different?
Andy Lenartz believes that wins matter most, Paul Rice thinks that strikeouts and being generally unhittable are rather important, while Landon Evanson believes that making an average team a playoff squad and perfection need careful consideration.
Those are the topics being debated — which carries the most weight with you?
Although an additional playoff-stretch victory or two against the Dodgers would have added greatly to his chances, Brandon Webb still deserves a second NL Cy Young award.
Look at his stat line: 3.30 ERA, 226 IP (4th in NL), 183 Ks and 22 Ws, best in the league by 4 wins.
22 wins is the most important number there, the one earning Webb the award. When it comes down to what matters in baseball, wins is the most important. And Webb simply had more of them than his nearest competitor.
The argument against Webb is that it just means he had a better team than Tim Lincecum, who is probably his closest competitor. However, the D-backs were not exactly packed with all-stars. Their only representative besides Webb was starting pitcher Dan Haren, who was generally not on the field at the same time as Webb.
Also, a good pitcher adds to his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s win totals. Take away the 4 wins Webb has over Lincecum, and the D-backs barely finished over the Giants in the standings. A pitcher should not be punished because his team performed better than a competitors. This would be like giving Paris Hilton an Oscar for the Hottie & the Nottie because there is no way to determine what she theoretically might have accomplished if cast in Vicky Christina Barcelona.
Has anyone ever seen Killer Klowns From Outer Space? Like, remember that scene when the tiny little baby (killer) clown-thing rides his little tricycle up to confront a bunch of bikers, and then one of the burly bikers grabs the tricycle and smashes it to little bits, then starts mocking the small clown? Then remember when the small, seemingly harmless clown responds by decapitating said biker with an Extendo-Glove? Yeah, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Tim Lincecum.. Yeah, he looks like an AV Club wuss whose ass you could kick all over the schoolyard, but his fastball had would-be bullies in the National League running for their mommies this season.
Did that totally obscure movie reference not convince you that Timmy is the Cy Young winner? How about this, then? Lincecum led the league in strikeouts (265) and K/9 (10.51), and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even close (the runners-up had 206 and 9.46, respectively). He allowed the fewest hits per nine innings among all NL starters, and he led everybody with a 167 ERA+ (which accounts for league and park factors). He was, by any measure, the most unhittable pitcher in the National League. He complimented his high-90Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s heat with a nasty curve, a rapidly improving changeup, and a ridiculous two-seamer that he could run up in the mid-90Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s (are you kidding me?).
Even pitching for a bad team with a miserable offense, Lincecum racked up 18 wins. His bullpen blew leads in the late innings in five of his starts, so that win total could easily have jumped to 23, and then there wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be any Cy Young debate at all. You want to hold his crappy teammates and the failings of his bullpen against him? Be my guest. When simply looking at factors that Lincecum could control, namely getting batters out, Lincecum was clearly the best pitcher in the National League and the most deserving of the Cy Young.
Let’s travel back in time to a period where a pitcher emerged as a legitimate Cy Young contender after being acquired in a mid-season trade — let’s take it all the way back to Rick Sutcliffe and the ’84 Cubs. The big redhead went 16-1 with three shutouts, seven complete games, a 2.69 ERA and in just 20 games helped the lovable losers reach October for the first time since 1945.
Fast forward 24 years to C.C. Sabathia being dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers and have a peek at what the large lefthander did for the Crew.
An 11-2 record with three shutouts, seven complete games, a 1.65 ERA and the big boy almost single-handedly put Milwaukee into the post-season for the first time since 1982 in just 17 games.
Eerily similar, no? Just sayin’.
In nearly half the starts, Sabathia had just two less wins than “ace” Ben Sheets who, once again came up lame when the club needed him most and one more than Manny Parra who simply imploded as the season progressed.
It’s this simple — the Cy Young award is the MVP for pitchers and without Sabathia there weren’t enough Ryan Braun walk-off jobs in the world that would have kept Milwaukee on life support save for the jolt number 52 provided not only every fifth day but for a while, every third day.
C.C. Sabathia deserves to be the National League’s Cy Young.
Forget the fact that Lidge was Pujolsed three years ago or that he eventually lost his closer role in Houston and instead focus on the chance that Philly took on he once believed to be “washed up” stopper.
Lidge helped Philadelphia reach the playoffs for a second consecutive season in ’08 but did it in a very un-Mitch Williams/Tug McGraw way. In other words, Phils phans didn’t need to put quite as many nitro’s under their tongues as they’d grown accustomed to over the years.
Lidge wasn’t just solid or dependable or even really effective — he was perfect. Unblemished. Without flaw.
Lidge had a record of two wins against no losses but more importantly, he converted all 41 of his save opportunities while sporting a 1.95 ERA and struck out 92 over 69.1 innings for a team that reached the tournament.
K-Rod may have saved a big league-record 62 games for the Halos but kid blew seven chances, too. So when it comes to records. you can have ‘em — Brad Lidge would rather have the wins — and the hardware.
There you have them, boys are girls, B & C’s best arguments. Think yours are better? Make your case.