Felix Hernandez, a 13-game winner in 2010, has been named the American League Cy Young award winner. The Seattle Mariners pitcher took 21 of the 28 first-place votes. The other seven first-place votes went to the Rays’ David Price, who received four, and the Yankee’s C.C. Sabathia who took the remaining three.
Hernandez’ 13-12 record seems anything but Cy Young-worthy. Indeed, the win total is the lowest of any Cy Young Award winning starter in a non-strike year.
King Felix’s other numbers were simply too much to ignore. He started a league-leading 34 games and led the A.L. in innings pitched, hits, and earned run average. His 232 strikeouts placed second while his six complete games were good for third. Opponents hit just .212 off of him.
As for his lack of wins, Hernandez received the lowest run support in baseball while pitching for a team that lost 101 games.
The statistical dominance for a last-place team brings to mind Ned Garver’s performance for the 1951 St. Louis Browns. In a season best recalled by St. Louis fans for the pinch-hitting appearance of 3’7” Eddie Gaedel, the Browns went 51-102.
With 24 complete games, Garver won an astonishing 20 games for the Brownies. He remains largely forgotten because his brilliance came five years before the creation of the Cy Young Award.
Though Hernandez dominated the first-place vote total, some disagreed with his selection. Critics pointed out that the object of the game is to win, not to compile outstanding statistics.
Tampa Bay’s David Price had 19 wins to go with a solid statistical mix. He finished second in win/loss percentage, third in ERA and shutouts while leading his team to the post season. Price finished second in the voting.
C.C. Sabathia, who led the league with 21 wins, could muster only a third-place finish. The big lefty did not have enough additional statistical support in the eyes of the baseball writers who vote for the award. Indeed, he posted only two complete games and did not record a shutout while finishing seventh in the A.L. in ERA.
In an era when statistical data can be overwhelming, it seems this year the baseball writers accurately weighed the numbers in naming Hernandez.
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