The conventional wisdom holds that Josh Beckett’s dominating win over Chien-Ming Wang and the New York Yankees all but removed Wang from Cy Young contention and significantly bolstered Beckett’s case. It’s hard to argue against that.
We’ve had several discussions at YFSF about the relative merits of each AL Cy Young candidate in a crowded field filled with worthy candidates. We haven’t really run down who those candidates are and what their respective credentials are. So without further ado, a rundown.
AGS=Average Game Score, Low=low game score, High=high game score. QS=Quality Starts, based on 50+ game score.
Santana and Sabathia lead in pretty much every category. Beckett has the most wins, Verlander the fewest losses and hits, and Carmona the lowest ERA. The three Triple Crown stats are led by three different pitchers — Beckett, Santana and Carmona.
The problem for Santana is his record, which unfairly is near .500. He’s clearly been the most consistent (best worst start, best best start, best average start, most quality starts). He has a lot more Ks and consequently the highest K/9 of these contenders. But 15-12 is 15-12. He hasn’t been as dominant as in years past, which has hurt him actually. The perception seems to be that he’s having an off year, but his numbers hold up well to the other pitchers.
Sabathia and Beckett are putting up remarkably similar numbers — separated by two wins, one loss, .01 in ERA, three walks, 18 strikeouts, one quality start, and .4 in average game score. Those two and Santana are the only pitchers whose numbers stand out from the pack — the only three with K/9 above 7.8, K:BB above 3.5 (and they’re all above 4.5) and WHIP below 1.2.
Voters look at wins, though. And 15-12 isn’t going to cut it when you’ve got six other starters with more wins and at least three fewer losses — and pretty compelling cases, to boot. That seems to leave Beckett and Sabathia.
Beckett’s run support has given him those gaudy 19 wins, but he also has a lower ERA, lower WHIP and more Ks per 9. Sabathia has unreal walk numbers, which gives him a huge advantage in K:BB ratio. Sabathia, for what it’s worth, also has pitched the better defining game — games, actually: His back-to-back nine-inning, zero-run performances in June. Beckett’s best isn’t as good — but he’s never tanked like Sabathia did, and I contend those performances linger in the minds of voters. Beckett also has the better average start and only one fewer quaity start despite four fewer times on the mound. Also: 50 fewer hits in 39 fewer innings.
At this point, it’s a tossup. Santana probably deserves the award most, but Sabathia and Beckett are likely to finish 1-2. If Beckett’s support remains high (6.45), and he plays to his AQS in his last two starts, Beckett will have 21 wins. More likely, if he wins just one of those, that will probably be enough for voters to give him the Cy.