It’s interesting that the CY Young is often decided by something a pitcher has no control over. The AL CY Young race is coming down to the Yankees C.C Sabathia, the Rays David Price, and the Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez. The season ends for Hernandez on Sunday while Price and Sabathia will play for at least a week or two longer. To those voting for the CY Young it seems like Hernandez might be penalized for pitching on clearly the worst team in the Al West. But should he? Point blank Felix Hernandez deserves the CY Young and his lack of wins shouldn’t factor into the decision for a second. Here are 5 reasons King Felix Should win the CY Young.
1. Winning Isn’t His Job – In order to clearly understand why Hernandez deserves the honor we must first understand that while a pitcher has wins and losses counted, it’s not his job to win games. It’s his job to go out and pitch as well as he can and to put his team in position to win games. Win’s and losses don’t matter. Felix Hernandez has often put his team in the best position to win. Sometimes there is more to it than that. A team must help their pitcher out too. Surely a 1-0 loss(like Hernandez suffered at the hands of the Blue Jays this year) shouldn’t count against the starting pitcher.
It’s not too much to ask that your offense score you two runs in a game. ESPN’s Jayson Stark made mention that in 7 of 14 games this year Hernandez went into the 8th inning or later with his team having scored no runs for him. If the Mariners had put runs on the board in those games, Hernandez would be a 20 game winner in all likelihood and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
2. His ERA is 2.27 – A pitcher lives and dies by the runs he allows. He can’t control how his team will bat that night. He can’t control how the other pitcher will pitch or what the weather will be. The only thing he can control is how he pitches and that’s evident by how many runs he allows across home plate. King Felix has been better this year than his competitors. His 2.27 ERA is 0.40 lower than his next rival, David Price (2.73). Sabathia and Lester both have ERA’s under 3.00 but it’s not as good as Felix. The point is to keep the other team to as few runs as possible. Hernandez has been the best at it this year.
3. Forget The Pressure – A lot of people will point to the fact that Price, Sabathia, and even Jon Lester(a long shot for the award) pitch in a tougher division and in the heat of a pennant race. I will say that it doesn’t matter as much as people make it out to matter. Let’s talk about pressure for a minute. Isn’t pressure going out every fifth day knowing you have to be near perfect if your team even has a remote chance of winning? Not easy. For those that say winning is important, then we assume it matters to the pitchers all the same. Felix wants to win as bad as Sabathia and Price and he knows he has to be flawless to do it. Sometimes that isn’t even good enough.
4. Lowest WHIP – When we mention that a pitcher shouldn’t allow runs it’s assumed the best way to do this is to not put runners on base. Avoiding hits and walks are two of the easiest ways to do this. A pitchers Whip is his Walks and Hit per Inning Pitched. All of the CY Young Candidates have great Whips, but none great than Hernandez. His WHIP is a freakish 1.06. Meaning he’s only allowing about 1 base runner every inning. He’s keeping guys off base. You combine that with his 200 plus strikeouts and it’s clear that no one is doing their job better than Felix Hernandez.
5. 30 Quality Starts – This stat is used to define quality. When a pitcher goes six innings or more and gives up less than 3 runs it’s considered a quality start. No pitcher in baseball this year has had more quality starts than King Felix. He clocks in with 30. Only 3 pitchers in the last two decades have had that many quality starts in a season. Every time King Felix takes the mound he is giving his team the best chance to win. There isn’t a pitcher in baseball who has been that consistent that many times over the course of the season. It’s the reason why you should throw his win total out the window and give Felix Hernandez the AL CY Young Award.