CC Sabathia Does Not Deserve Cy Young

The 2010 Cy Young conversation had been a fascinating debate. It had raised questions about how to determine if a pitcher is successful, and the value of certain statistics.

But, unlike other years, the 2010 debate has recently become quite a silly argument as the season comes to a close.

The main discussion has been between CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez. David Price and Francisco Liriano are also in the discussion, but for some reason have not been given nearly as much attention as the other two.

If we were to do a raw breakdown of earned run average, from smallest to largest, the four candidates would come out in this order: Hernandez, Price, Sabathia, Liriano.

Already, you see how ridiculous the debate has become. At this point, Sabathia is as close to the front-runner as you can be, but there are two people who are already leading him in one of the most important statistics in ERA.

But clearly ERA is not the only statistic.

You can argue for hours about which pitcher is most deserving of the award. You can examine statistics, game-by-game stats, or simply recall dominating starts throughout the season. Nonetheless, we need to guard against Sabathia winning the award, and teach people that being on a good team does not make you a better pitcher.

For arguments sake, let’s examine the popular Hernandez vs. Sabathia battle. If you look across all the major statistics (ERA, W-L record, IP, SO, BB, H and HR) Sabathia only outdoes Hernandez in the W-L department. If you ask me, that is completely insignificant.

Of all the stats we looked at, W-L records are the least representative of a pitchers ability. Why? Because a pitcher can pitch the best game of his life and still lose the game. It all depends on how good your teams offense is (a factor you do not contribute to as a pitcher in the AL) and the pitcher you are opposing.

Clearly Sabathia is the beneficiary of the better offense. The Yankees have scored the most runs in the Majors, the Mariners have scored the least. The Yankees have the best record in the Majors, the Mariners have the second worst.

To further express these lopsided numbers, consider run support. In games Hernandez has started, his team has scored 3.16 runs/game on average. Sabathia, on the other hand, enjoys 5.99 runs/game.

Clearly Sabathia is going to win more games. His team scores more runs for him, his team has a better bullpen to hold leads, and his team is far superior in every possible aspect of the game.

Since 1920, 34,741 pitchers have thrown a quality start (six or more innings pitched and three runs or less) and lost the game. Wins for a pitcher are influenced by many outside factors, and thus should not be considered for the Cy Young award.

All in all, I would hate to see Felix Hernandez — the league leader in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched — be stripped of an award he clearly deserves simply because he is on a bad team. Even if you consider Wins, Hernandez outdoes Sabathia in nearly every pitching category.

Let’s stop associating bad teams with bad players. After all, Cy Young was a great pitcher, but the Cleveland Spiders only made it to the playoffs once.

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4 Responses to CC Sabathia Does Not Deserve Cy Young

  1. I really hate to root against CC, especially considering he has become one of my favorite Yankees, but he really isn't better than Felix this season. Felix deserves the award. I think it would look really bad for the BBWAA if he wins.

  2. bill says:

    he pitches in a hitters park giving up tons of homers but only has a slightly higher era than a pitcher from dead pitchers park which hardly gives up any homers. enough said, but if cc pitched in seattle he’d win 30 games with an era of .90

  3. Mike S. says:

    It could be another case of where one pitcher finishes lower down than the other in the CYA vote but higher up in the MVP vote.

    It has happened to Rivera a lot. Mo can finish 4th in the CYA vote to the eventual winner, but when the MVP votes come out Mo finishes 9th and the CYA winner 20th or so.

    I don't have the exact numbers before me, but it's happened with Mo and could happen with CC/Felix this year.

  4. TC says:

    There's just no way around it, King Felix is the best AL pitcher this year, fairly easily. Last year the right pitcher got it, based on his ERA and despite a low W/L ratio.

    I find it amusing that anybody'd think CC deserves it, and he's one of my favorite professional sports players, period, but he just doesn't deserve it.

    On a side note, who wants to bet Hernandez becomes a Yankee some day past his prime, gets a 4 year contract for the equivalent of Chile's GNP, and proceeds to pitch erratically with an ERA upwards of 4?