AL Cy Young
How much do wins matter? That, essentially, is the question facing AL Cy Young voters this year. If you put a lot of stock in wins, Bartolo Colon is your winner. If you don’t, it’s a much more interesting question.
I think wins for a pitcher are a vastly overvalued stat, since there’s so much that a pitcher can’t control. In looking at the Cy Young, I’m much more inclined to look at ERA, innings, strikeouts/walks, complete games/shutouts — basically, the things that the pitcher has more control over.
The Cy Young ballot allows only three names, which changes the dynamic a little. I think Colon will win, because he’ll be on pretty much everyone’s ballot, and I can see guys like Johan Santana and Mark Buehrle getting first-, second- and third-place votes but also being left off of some ballots.
If I had a vote, however, here’s how it would go:
1. Santana. Just the best pitcher in the league. He’s tied with Kevin Millwood for the ERA lead, but he has 40 more innings. He’s on top in strikeouts. He has a ridiculous hit rate, a ridiculous K/BB rate, and no viable candidate has more complete games. It’s not his fault the Twins are dead last in the AL in runs scored. Yes, last. Behind even the Royals.
2. Buehrle. Behind only Santana and Millwood in ERA, first in innings, tied with Santana in CG. I’m not crazy about those 17 unearned runs, though. Once in a while, an unearned run isn’t a pitcher’s fault. But usually, if you give up lots of them, it’s probably a sign that you should have prevented some of them — or that the official scorer helped you a lot more than he helped your defense.
3. Colon. He’s seventh in ERA, and the wins do mean something. Like the other guys, he racked up innings. I take him over Mariano Rivera, who will get some consideration, just because I’d rather have a very good starter than a great reliever pretty much any day. Besides, I’m actually not sure Rivera was all that much better than Francisco Rodriguez.