So I decided to write a post about this because yesterday capped the end of the 2008 regular season and perhaps a review would help you guys decide who you want to choose for the NL Cy Young Contest. While it is pretty clear that in most baseball circles, it has become a two man race between Lincecum and Webb, I still think it is a wide open race between Webb, Lincecum, Santana, and Sabathia. There are compelling arguments for all of the above for why they should win this coveted award. Lets just go through their pros and cons.
He was the 2006 NL Cy Young winner and this year, he is again showing us why he is still one of the best pitchers in the league. Primarily a sinker ball pitcher, he has the highest ground balls to fly balls ratio in the majors, which contributes somewhat to his low strikeout total. You can argue that strikeouts doesn’t necessarily have to be a good indicator of how good a pitcher is because there are different styles to getting outs and Webb’s style is inducing the hitter to ground out. He’s had a pretty consistent year, except for that minor blowup through a three start stretch against the Dodgers where he was just jacked. His ERA went from the mid-high twos to low-mid threes. He pitches for a mediocre team, but in a terrible division. You could argue that the reason the Diamondbacks missed the playoffs is because of his terrible three start stretch last month. His bullpen has been pretty solid for him for the most part as they’ve only blown only one of his leads, leading to a no decision. He’s also 3-0 against the Giants this year, which is pretty much an automatic win because of their anemic offense. Too bad Lincecum doesn’t get to pitch against an offense that bad. He ends his season 22-7 with a 3.24 ERA.
Known as “The Franchise,” he has showed this season why he could be the cornerstone of the Giants’ organization for years to come. He finished an amazing season yesterday afternoon against the Dodgers with a 3-1 win, while striking out 13 in 7 innings. He struck out 9 batters in the first three innings, which is the first time that has happened since 1986. He finishes the season with 265 strikeouts, leading the majors and the most since Randy Johnson struck out 290. He also heads the league in opponent batting average and second in ERA only to Santana’s with a 2.62. He also leads the NL with winning percentage with yesterday’s win. Many have argued that you should ignore the wins column this year for the NL Cy Young. His bullpen has blown five of his wins to Webb’s one. With those five wins, he could have potentially been 23-5 compared to Webb’s 23-7. He also pitched on a horrendous Giants team with terrible offense. He also bolstered his Cy Young resume with a complete game, 12 strikeout, 4-hit shutout in San Diego to get his first CG shutout of his career (which I saw in person!). I think he also leads in several other categories such as HRs given up and also quality starts.
He finished the season 17-7 and showed that he can be just as effective after switching leagues. His last start of the season was a gem with a 3-hit shutout and keeping the Mets in playoff contention. He leads the NL in ERA (2.53) edging Lincecum’s with a great last start. You could also argue that he should have more wins because the rag-tag Mets bullpen blew many of the team’s leads. He was also on a good Mets team (for the later half of the season) with a pretty good offense. He also leads the league with innings pitched with 234.1.
This guy had a phenomenal transition into a new league and some can argue, the best second half of pitching in decades. He was completely dominant in all aspects of the game, with strikeouts and also leading the league with 7 complete games and 3 shutouts, all the while only starting 17 games. He finishes the year in the NL with an 11-2 record with a 1.65 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He also dominanted in his last start and without him, I don’t think the Brewers would have made the playoffs. He also came within one “hit/error” of a no-hitter. The only knock on him is that he didn’t pitch the whole year in the National League. This is kind of a hard fact to overlook because the NL hitters might have been thrown off balance with a new pitcher to face. Even if you look at his combined record, it would be 17-10 since his 6-8 start in the AL was still mortal. But those combined stats would also give him 10 complete games with 5 shutouts, which is an extraordinary feat by any measure. If he stayed in the NL the whole year, who knows what he could’ve done. But will his extraordinary second half take away votes from the other nominees?
So there you have it, that’s my run down of potential candidates. I may have some stats wrong because everything is off the top of my head so you might need to double check, but I am a stat wiz because for some reason numbers tend to just stay in my head after reading them in the sports section. There will always be arguments for other pitchers because these are not the only four who had great season, but they were the top four in my opinion. On the radar, you might also have: Cole Hamels, Edinson Volquez, Dan Haren, Chad Billingsley, and Ryan Dempster. Remember to put your votes in on the page on the top right and include total points and also point breakdown of first, second, and third place votes! Good luck!