NL Cy Young
The MVP awards have been handed out and we are moving on to a hot topic of all the awards in the National Cy Young Award, which went undisputedly to Jake Peavy, who won the pitchers Triple Crown last year with 19 wins, a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts. This year, we have a few candidates that should steal votes from each other. Letís see who comes out on top.
Tim Lincecum. ďThe FreakĒ as he is so appropriately dubbed, had an amazing season, accumulating eye popping numbers including a league-leading 265 strikeouts. He kept his ERA at 2.62, ranked 2nd in the league and his opponentís batting average (.221) was best in the NL and second only to Dice-K in the entire MLB. Also, he didnít win the 22 that Brandon Webb did, but he managed 18 wins on a pathetic Giants team that saw the second most wins at 10. Need more? He also led the league in win-loss percentage (.773) and home runs allowed per/9 (0.45) and was second in quality starts with 25. He did have some control issues for a stretch there, but never let it get too bad. His WHIP was a little high at 1.17 (12th) but again, he found a way to strand those runners and put up the best set of numbers in the league.
Ryan Dempster. The best pitcher on the Cubs this year was Ryan Dempster. He dominated at home and sneaks into the Cy Young race a little under the radar. However, look at his numbers and ranks and the consistency across the board in the top-5 makes him worthy of discussion: Wins (17, t-3rd), opponentís batting average (.227, 3rd), 2.96 ERA (4th), Winning percentage (.739, 4th). In 13 starts after the All-Star break (which he spent striking out the side in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium), he went 7-2 with a 2.52 ERA. He put up solid numbers but not leading any one of them does hurt his chances. Iíll save the suspense, he wonít win, but should get some top-five votes.
Brandon Webb. Luckily for the defending Cy Young winner, wins is the biggest stat the writers focus on when voting and he led the league with 22 of them. That should get him into the top three, but it should end there. Look at the rest of his ranks in key statistical categories: ERA (3.30, 10th), strikeouts (183, 11th), opp. BA (.242, 13th) and WHIP (1.20, 19th). Those numbers just arenít good enough to keep him up there with Lincecum. He should hang around the number two spot because he did win at a .759 clip and had 24 quality starts (3rd) but he really shouldnít get his second award in as many years. That doesnít mean he wonít.
Johan Santana. Coming over to the National League should be a little easier and he won two of these bad boys over in the AL. His dominating finish on short rest should linger in the minds of voters and he could be considered a front-runner. His numbers donít quite stack up to Lincecumís and the fact that he lost at least four or five wins from that faltering bullpen hurts. The key here is that he does lead in a top category (ERA, 2.53) and another important category, innings pitched (234.1). He single-handedly kept the Mets in the race until the very end when the offense couldnít answer the bell and they missed the playoffs on the last day of the season for the second straight year. Fact remains, 16 wins doesnít look good on the resume. He did have 206 strikeouts, which was tied for second with Dan Haren, but even that was 59 behind Lincecum. The argument is strong in his favor.
Dan Haren. Haren might actually be a more deserving candidate than his teammate Webb. Again, 16 wins doesnít immediately strike interest, especially with eight losses attached. A 3.33 ERA is a little lofty for this award as well and a .247 opponentís batting average shows he might have had a little luck on his side. Thatís where the negatives end. He is tied for second in strikeouts (206), 3rd in WHIP (1.13) and 1st in K/BB ratio (5.15). Thatís not enough to convince writers to vote for him, but a great season nonetheless. Quick question: how bad could an offense be when two starting pitchers are in the running for Cy Young from the same roster? The D-Backs should be playing in October and couldíve made a run.
Brad Lidge. Here is our annual closer candidate and while I would like to make a case for Lidge, I simply canít justify it. Being a starting pitcher, the grind, the bullpens, the wear and tear throughout the season, itís simply a much tougher job than coming out of the pen, sometimes with a three-run lead and giving max effort to get three outs. Donít get me wrong, Lidge did a fantastic job this year and he is the best at what he does in the National League, but he should be happy with the ďComebackĒ player award because that is all he should take home this year.
Cole Hamels. Hamels had just 14 wins this year, which wasnít even the most on his team (16, Moyer), but he did put up a solid year and he does deserve at least a whisper for the award. He led the league in WHIP at an impressive 1.08. Opponents batting average was tied with Dempster for 2nd at .227. His 3.09 ERA was ranked 5th. His 196 strikeouts was 6th. And his K/BB ratio was 4th (3.70). Again, a very solid season and worth the whisper, but if he couldíve managed a couple more wins he would be taken a little more seriously.
Ricky Nolasco. Like Hamels, Nolasco isnít a real candidate to win this thing, but deserves some credit for a very solid season. He only has 15 wins and his ERA was ranked 12th at 3.52. His 186 strikeouts isnít overly impressive. But a 1.10 WHIP (2nd behind only Hamels) and a 4.43 BB/K ratio (2nd behind only Haren) are very impressive. Again, worth a mention and a vote in the top 10, but not a threat to the top contenders.
Edinson Volquez. Volquez is a nice story, coming over from the Rangers for Josh Hamilton, he really put together a nice season. Granted, itís not a Cy Young season, but there is only one of those to go around. His 17 wins on a weaker Reds team is impressive. His 3.21 ERA is also impressive but his 9.46 Kís/9 is the most impressive.
C.C. Sabathia. First of all, I donít believe that a player can come over in a trade after the All-Star break and win an award of this caliber. Itís not possible. I must admit though, if anybody is capable it is Sabathia and if he went 13-0, he would deserve it. I wonít go into all of his numbers, just flip on the Brewers-Phillies game and you can see for yourself. The guy is just plain dirty. He is probably more worthy of a mention for MVP over Cy Young because of what he meant to the Brewers down the stretch and the fact that he is never hurt.
1. Tim Lincecum
2. Johan Santana
3. Cole Hamels
4. Dan Haren
5. Ryan Dempster
6. C.C. Sabathia
7. Brandon Webb
8. Edinson Volquez
9. Ricky Nolasco
10. Brad Lidge
Honorable Mention (and could replace Lidge): Chad Billingsley.
Gibson Awards 2008
NL MVP Ė Albert Pujols, 1B, STL
AL MVP Ė Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS
NL Cy Young Ė Tim Lincecum, SP, SF