Wednesday, November 10, 2004

NL Cy Young Analysis

The NL Cy Young Award was handed out yesterday, and as I predicted, the wrong guy got the hardware. Roger Clemens had a great season. He had an ERA under 3, struck out 218 batters, and walked only 79 in 214 1/3 innings. He also "won" 18 games. I put won in quotation marks because the Astros won those games and I'm sick and tired of award voters giving out awards based on a statistic that hasn't been relevant to meaningful analysis since the 19th century.

Randy Johnson was better. He had a 2.60 ERA, 290 K's, and 44 walks in 245 2/3 innings, but he lost the award because Chad Tracy, Alex Cintron, and Scott Hairston sucked. The Big Unit only "won" 16 games while playing for a team that gave 80 relief innings to Stephen Randolph. Randy Johnson was punished because his teammates were terrible. The idea that the best pitcher (or player) in any specific year can't possibly be a player that played for a terrible team is something that infects awards voting like a virus.

Roger Clemens won the award because he came out of retirement to be the best pitcher on a playoff team. The problem with asking writers to hand out awards is that most of them know very little, and care very little about performance analysis, and instead look for the best story. They screw up at least one award every year because of this stupid fixation.

And this doesn't just affect baseball. According to Pro Basketball Forecast 2004-05, Larry Banks of the Chicago Sun-Times voted for Jermaine O'Neal instead of Kevin Garnett because O'Neal was nicer in interviews than Garnett. That's just stupid and childish. And I expect nothing less of a profession who counts Bob Ryan, Bill Plaschke, Jay Mariotti, and Michael Wilbon as major stars.

Also of note, Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez had major breakthroughs this year, but didn't even get a single third place vote. Ben Sheets was the second best pitcher in the NL, but for all intents and purposes, we could call him the mini-unit because he got a single 3rd place vote because he played for a bad team.

Thursday they hand out the AL Cy Young Award, and if Johan Santana doesn't win, and I die because of a cerebral hemorrhage thursday night, it will not be a coincidence.



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