CC Sabathia Not Close to Cy Young Despite Win Total

For years the measure of a really good pitcher was how many wins he was able to rack up. Last season though something happened, Zack Greinke of the Royals won the Cy Young award despite only racking up 16 wins.

CC Sabathia currently leads the American League with 16 wins and has been the Yankees most dominant pitcher this season. This has started some fans to begin including his name in the conversation for the Cy Young award. The problem is, when you look at the numbers CC isn’t really close at all at this point.

Here are the AL league leaders by ERA+:

Rk Tm W L ERA G CG SHO IP BB SO ERA+ WHIP
1 Clay Buchholz BOS 14 5 2.36 21 1 1 133.1 50 89 185 1.193
2 Trevor Cahill OAK 12 5 2.50 21 1 1 140.2 42 81 164 0.981
3 Jon Lester* BOS 13 7 2.80 24 2 0 161.0 55 165 157 1.130
4 Felix Hernandez SEA 8 10 2.62 26 5 1 189.0 52 172 154 1.138
5 Cliff Lee* TOT 10 6 2.77 21 7 1 169.0 10 147 150 0.947
6 David Price* TBR 15 5 2.85 23 2 1 151.2 64 141 148 1.259
7 C.J. Wilson* TEX 11 5 3.19 24 2 0 149.1 70 116 136 1.239
8 Jered Weaver LAA 11 8 3.11 26 0 0 168.0 43 186 135 1.095
9 Jeff Niemann TBR 10 3 3.12 22 1 1 141.1 44 102 135 1.167
10 Colby Lewis TEX 9 9 3.28 23 1 0 148.1 49 150 132 1.153
11 John Danks* CHW 12 8 3.33 24 1 1 162.1 49 125 130 1.146
12 Jason Vargas* SEA 9 5 3.15 23 0 0 145.2 42 92 128 1.195
13 CC Sabathia* NYY 16 5 3.12 26 2 0 181.2 61 143 128 1.244
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/19/2010.

Sabathia is ranked 13th on this list despite leading the league in wins. Yes, at times Sabathia has been dominant this season, but other times he has merely been average and the Yankees potent offense has managed to snag him a couple extra wins here and there.

So despite the fact that he could finish with 20 wins for the first time in his career, Sabathia’s 2010 campaign pales in comparrison to the likes of Clay Buchholz, Felix Hernandez, and even David Price.

Perhaps it is possible that things could change between now and the end of the season, but Sabathia would have to go on one hell of a tear.

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13 Responses to CC Sabathia Not Close to Cy Young Despite Win Total

  1. Mike S. says:

    One person not listed above is the great Mariano.

    Of course, relievers are usually only considered when there is a dearth of decent and worthy starters for the award, which is not the case this year.

    The saves are down, not because Mariano hasn't done well (au contraire!), but because the Yanks have won enough games by a high enough margin to ensure that the use of Mo isn't necessary.

    Using the criteria above:

    Mo 3-2, 1.02. 46 games, 24 saves. 44 1/3 IP (this hurts his candidacy, as well as the fact that other relievers have more saves—due more to the fact that their teams are in more close games rather than blowouts than Mo is). 7 walks 37 strikeouts. ERA+ 397. WHIP 0.699. Ridiculous numbers.

    I am still pissed he came in second to Bart the Colon in 2005.

    • smurfy says:

      Such seems to be the case, Mike, that people look at the award as “the best starter.” One award that he should get a strong look for is the Gold Glove: his delivery, made of pure silk, snaps to defense while we are still dreaming. That broken bat hurdle, then stopping the ball before his feet set down was tooo much!

  2. Eric Communiello says:

    I’d have to disagree Rob. ERA+ is a great statistic, but the Cy Young isn’t decided on it alone. When looking at the stats as of today, there is no way that CJ Wilson, John Danks, Colby Lewis, Jeff Niemann or Jason Vargas get more votes than CC. I also don’t think Felix gets more votes, despite superior peripheral stats. CC does a great job racking up the innings, and he has a high strike out total because of it.

    I don’t think CC is the AL Cy Young winner right now, but I think he’s in the top 5, and that’s much closer than you make it out to be. If he keeps up at his current pace, it’ll be a real tough decision for the voters.

  3. Danby says:

    Eric, you assert that CC is more qualified than Felix (despite Felix's superior peripherals) because CC is an innings eater who tallies lots of strikeouts. Well, as seen above, Felix is actually ahead of CC in the IP and strikeout departments as well. I personally believe this award has Cliff Lee's name on it: his K/BB ratio is the best of all time and he has accumulated the highest WAR of all AL Pitchers after missing a month. Price, Felix, and Lester are runners-up. CC will still get votes, but now way he wins the Cy.

    • Eric Communiello says:

      I should have been a little clearer. I don't think CC is having a better season than King Felix, I'm just doubtful that Felix would get as many votes if the season ended today. Greinke didn't have a ton of wins last year, but he still won twice as many games as he lost on a bad team. The M's need to get Felix some wins to help his Cy Young chances.

  4. Dave says:

    I think C.C.'s stuff hasn't been dominating and that is the only reason he may not be CY Young. But given the fact that when he pitches he keeps his team in the game despite not having great stuff makes him an MVP. Right now there is nobody else i want to pitch in a big game other than him. Plus he is in the AL East playing against the toughest teams. Put him in the central and his ERA drops to 2.50 -2.70. Watch the games, don't just look at the numbers. I mean King Felix is 8-10. I know his team stinks but even carlton won 27 games with a team that was in last place. Win your game go deep in the game to ensure your team wins. That is C.C. By the way he just matched a stat of 3 or less runs given up in 15 straight games while pitching 7 plus innings that Guidry set back in 1978. That is pretty dominating.

    • tbr says:

      You think CC's ERA would be 2.50 to 2.70 in the AL Central? Well, so far this year against the Central it's 4.61. Oh, and that's without having seen either the White Sox or the Twins. He's only seen the Tigers, Indians, and Royals. Don't forget, he used to pitch in the Central, and he never put up ERAs like that.

  5. Rob Abruzzese says:

    I was actually thinking while I was writing this article that CC may be more of an MVP than a Cy Young. My thinking is that there are better pitchers, but without CC the Yankees would easily be in third place.

    Also, TBR makes a good point, but I have to take issue with his last sentence. I think CC is a much more mature and well rounded pitcher at this point in his career than he was with the Indians.

  6. Jason from The Heart says:

    I have to concur with Eric and disagree as well, Rob. It's true that other pitchers such as Lee, Buchholz, and Price might well be higher on the final CYA voting list. Yet ERA+ is the only category analyzed in the brief piece here. Should C.C. lower his ERA a bit down the stretch, combined with a few more wins, it could well boost his CYA chances.

    Additionally, C.C.'s stats are somewhat hindered by his acknowledged maturity as a pitcher, with him using more sinking fastballs for pitch efficiency and ground-ball effectiveness. Look no further than his last 15 starts, 13 of which C.C. has gone at least 7 IP and, just like his brilliant second half of 2009 when he rolled, he went over 6 in the other 2. The guy has eaten innings while lowering his ERA by a run since the end of May–the last time, I might add, that he's allowed more than 3 ER in a start. That's 15 starts over roughly 3 months in which he's allowed 3 or fewer earned runs.

    He might not win the CYA but, if he keeps pitching like he does, he'll garner lots of votes. He's picked up steam and been more dominant. He might lack the eye-catching stats to back him up, in good part because he uses ground balls to dominate, but he's been no less effective than last year whatsoever. Actually, his numbers this year at this point (16-5, 3.12 ERA, 1.244 WHIP) are better than at this time last year (14-7, 3.58 ERA)–in by far the best division in baseball.

    I'll take that any day, Cy Young or not.

  7. Jason from The Heart says:

    Before I forget, I concur with Mike Sommer's comment on Mariano above, including his assessment of what hurts his chances. If The Great One wasn't voted the CYA in 2005, he likely will never get it. But he's been incredible–as of now, his second-lowest WHIP ever. Plus, 24 hits and 5 earned runs in 44 1/3 IP? Joke.

    Mariano should get a lifetime Cy Young award, like the way in which the Oscars give lifetime achievements. I guess we'll have to wait until that inevitable journey to Cooperstown…

    • Rob Abruzzese says:

      A unanimous vote into the hall would be similar to a life time achievement award, at least to me. Unfortunately there is probably going to be some asshole voter who won't vote for him the first time around because he's a reliever.

      • Jason from The Heart says:

        Alas, you're unquestionably right on that Rob. It will probably be the same crowd that didn't vote for Gwynn, Ripken, or Rickey the first time around.

  8. Rob Abruzzese says:

    I wasn't really trying to evaluate him by ERA+ alone, but I was using it to point out that just because he's leading the league in wins doesn't necessarily mean that he's been the most dominant pitcher in the AL.

    You are right in your analysis Jason, but when you stack up CC's season to what Cliff Lee has done, I think there are some old school voters who might unfairly give some votes to CC that should probably, at this point, go to Lee or some other pitcher on this list.

    Essentially my point in this article is that his win total is getting too much attention.