A Cy Of Relief

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.


Josh Beckett 19 6 3.20 188.2 175 38 180 1.13 8.59 4.74 21 58.2
Fausto Carmona 17 8 3.07 202 187 57 126 1.21 5.61 2.21 21 56.0
Kelvim Escobar 17 7 3.25 185.2 169 62 153 1.24 7.42 2.47 19 56.4
Dan Haren 14 7 3.11 202.2 194 51 174 1.21 7.73 3.41 22 56.0
John Lackey 16 9 3.21 202 194 50 160 1.26 7.13 3.20 21 55.0
C.C. Sabathia 17 7 3.21 227 225 35 198 1.15 7.85 5.66 22 57.8
Johan Santana 15 12 3.14 209 173 48 220 1.06 9.47 4.58 25 60.3
Justin Verlander 17 5 3.47 184 166 60 166 1.23 8.12 2.77 20 55.6
Chien-Ming Wang 18 7 3.82 186.1 186 55 94 1.29 4.54 1.71 16 51.8

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.

Contendah W L ERA IP H BB K WHIP K/9 K:BB QS AGS Low High
Josh Beckett 19 6 3.20 188.2 175 38 180 1.13 8.59 4.74 21 58.2 23 77
C.C. Sabathia 17 7 3.21 227 225 35 198 1.15 7.85 5.66 22 57.8 16 86

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.

39 comments… add one
  • Love how you put this up right now – both to tweak the YF’s and to wash the taste of tonight.
    Every column to the right of K:BB is cut off in the first table and to the right of QS in the second table – at least in my browser.
    Nice job, though. I think if Beckett gets to 20, it’s his.

    Pete September 17, 2007, 12:22 am
  • Great analysis Paul. Jayson Stark had some other numbers that supported a Sabathia in a column on ESPN.com the other day. I think Beckett will win it due to irrational BBWAA voting, but to me the big difference between the two is the nearly extra 40 innings thrown by CC. That’s a great deal of work, and its cascading value to the rest of the pitching staff is hard to calculate. All that being no knock on Beckett. Great year, and he was terrific on Saturday.

    YF September 17, 2007, 12:22 am
  • C.C. Sabathia deserves it. Point blank.

    snowballa September 17, 2007, 12:24 am
  • Yeah, mine, too, Pete. I’ll see if I can fix it.

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 12:26 am
  • I got rid of the Low and High columns for the big group, and kept em for Beckett and Sabathia.
    The IP is a good argument. How much do you weigh them, I wonder? If you view the Cy as an MVP for pitchers, I’d think you weight it more because of the benefits for the rest of the staff. If Beckett pitches better in the innings he throws (which he arguably has), how many innings becomes the tipping point?
    Of course, with these two, innings could be the tiebreaker, they’re so close in almost everything else. The voters will probably go with wins though.

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 12:34 am
  • Stark makes some good points. I wanted to do something like that with game scores, but didn’t want to get too distracted from the game.
    Interesting that Sabathia can have so many more games with 7+ IP and so many more games with 2- ER, and yet have a lower AGS than Beckett. I wonder why. More hits given up in those starts, thus lowering his game score? More clunkers dragging down the score? Too tired to check.
    Still, if Beckett gets 20, he’ll benefit from the big market — and this weekend’s showdown with Wang, which seemed to get a lot more play than any of Sabathia’s duels with Santana.

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 12:58 am
  • My vote’s for CC. If Beckett wins it wouldn’t be the worst decision the voters have ever made, but he doesn’t deserve it nearly as much as Sabathia. The other thing that’s going to hurt Johan pretty badly will be that 1-8 record against division rivals Detroit and Cleveland. The Tribe has actually hit him pretty well, as he sports a 4.38 ERA against them in 6 starts to go along with high (for him) peripherals. His ERA against Detroit’s still low…but not quite what we expect from Santana…
    Looks to me like Lackey, Carmona, Escobar, and Haren will finish with numbers too similar to differentiate themselves from one another. Anyone willing to go for Lackey would likely approve of one of those guys as well; whoever does win the award will probably do so with a relatively small percentage of votes when compared to previous seasons.
    Oh…and poor Erik Bedard. If he hadn’t gotten hurt, I’d have liked him as the favorite despite the crappy record; he had K/9, K’s all to himself and his WHIP, and K/BB were close to Santana’s level, and his H/9 actually dwarfed Verlander’s.

    Josh SF (D1) September 17, 2007, 1:01 am
  • Looks good now, thanks.

    Pete September 17, 2007, 1:06 am
  • Yeah, I thought about including Bedard for kicks, but my inherent laziness kicked in. :-P

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 1:09 am
  • Nah, there wasn’t much reason to; he’s out of consideration now that he’s been shut down for the year. Still…Santana in 2005-2006 didn’t break the 9.5 K/9 mark; Bedard finished this season at 10.93. Just ridiculous.

    Anonymous September 17, 2007, 1:15 am
  • That was me…

    Josh SF (D1) September 17, 2007, 1:15 am
  • Whenever you’re sharing stats space with the likes of Pedro and RJ at their peaks, no matter the category, that’s impressive.

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 1:21 am
  • Truthfully, the biggest reason I wanted Bedard to win it was because I could have said that I drafted both Cy Youngs in the same league. ;-)
    Assuming that Peavy doesn’t get completely screwed, of course…

    Josh SF (D1) September 17, 2007, 1:39 am
  • You guys can have the Cy Young. We’ll keep working toward the WS…
    (sorry, but a pretty lame post after the last Y-RS series of the regular season…)

    IronHorse (yf) September 17, 2007, 2:18 am
  • Great analysis Paul. I was thinking about a post along the same lines when heading into the second game of the recent set. Prior to that start, which certainly added cement to what I think will turn out to be a CY for Beckett based on the profile of the game, I was thinking C.C. all the way in what should happen, and Beckett for what will. Part of the function of that substantial IP is the fact that Sabathia has four CG including one SO, second only to Halladay’s phenomenal SEVEN complete. Who does that anymore? Beckett has one CG. I would not get annoyed by Beckett taking a CY home; he has been fantastic and he does have that gaudy win total that appeals so greatly; it will likely be 21 wins by the end of play, though if I read the schedule correctly, number 20 may be a tough one as Boston will send him against the DRay’s Scott Kazmir, who was _awesome_ against the Mariners yesterday. I can’t imagine it will be much later than next season when we are talking about him in this conversation.

    attackgerbil September 17, 2007, 3:34 am
  • Why do we always get matched up against Kazmir? Seems we never play the Rays without playing him.

    Atheose September 17, 2007, 8:50 am
  • (sidenote: not complaining about the schedule, just frustrated with the situation. The man is like Kryptonite to us!)

    Atheose September 17, 2007, 8:59 am
  • Beckett also missed a couple of starts this season with the avulsion, and another reason that C.C. may have had to pitch more innnings is the Indians don’t have much in the pen except Betancourt. Still the 4 CG for Sabbathia are impressive and pending his next start (against Detroit on Wednesday) I do think the award could go either way

    Bob September 17, 2007, 9:10 am
  • Nice post Paul. I was trying to figure out how you managed to rank Beckett 1st and Wang last in the graph above (Wins? no; ERA? no; IP? no…) when I realized it was alphabetical. Heh.
    While it’s true that Beckett is only 1st in wins, he is second or third in a lot of categories across the board. There’s no denying he’s been excellent, it’ll be interesting to see how they vote.

    Tyrel SF September 17, 2007, 9:38 am
  • stop the nonsense..wang could have a perfect record and he would NEVER get Cy Young..just like all of the bad calls made against the yanks and other teams in boston..seems like someone is paying people off. guess thats how the sux have to win games.
    way to go jeter…is schilling still in the dugout crying??

    mrs p September 17, 2007, 9:59 am
  • Mrs P, that’s a lot of hotility…we tend to be slightly less acidic around here. I share your fandom, but most of the SFs here, with the exception of one, don’t deserve the hotility.
    THough I must say, I do share your joy at watching Curt Schilling with had hanging low after the Jeter bomb. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy…

    IronHorse (yf) September 17, 2007, 10:30 am
  • Kaz pads his stats against the Sox! =P

    Lar September 17, 2007, 10:36 am
  • Umm…probably a stupid question–or at least I hope it’s a stupid question–but does anyone here really think Wang got rooked last season in not winning the Cy? Anyone really think he deserved it over Santana…?

    Josh SF (D1) September 17, 2007, 10:36 am
  • Josh: No.

    IronHorse (yf) September 17, 2007, 10:38 am
  • Didn’t think so… ;-)

    Josh SF (D1) September 17, 2007, 10:40 am
  • Bigger question: How did I manage to mis-type hoStility twice in exactly the same way in the same note? Need that coffee…

    IronHorse (yf) September 17, 2007, 10:42 am
  • “stop the nonsense..wang could have a perfect record and he would NEVER get Cy Young..just like all of the bad calls made against the yanks and other teams in boston..seems like someone is paying people off. guess thats how the sux have to win games.
    way to go jeter…is schilling still in the dugout crying??”
    Are you serious?
    Run along now, the other mouth breathing, knuckle dragging Yankee Fans are wating for you here… http://www.nomaas.org/

    LocklandSF September 17, 2007, 11:14 am
  • I think if Wang went 25-3, he deserves the Cy Young, even if he ends up with 5 K’s the entire season.. =P

    Lar September 17, 2007, 2:15 pm
  • I cant even understand how a blog can be created and yankee fans and SUX fans pretend to get along. mostly because red sox fans are a bunch of sloven pigtastic morons. I just stopped by for a brief moment and i wont be running anywhere(like a sux fan could tell me what to do)..if i want to stay here i will stay here..and its not hotility its hostility. of course im hostile, sox are buying their way to a penant…

    mrs p September 17, 2007, 4:22 pm
  • Sorry, mrs p, we SUX fans will try very hard to elevate the discussion to your level in future.
    It’s not a “penant” we’re buying, it’s a “pennant” that our filthy, evil, pigtastic money is buying.

    Devine September 17, 2007, 4:30 pm
  • Pssh, how dumb do you have to be to not even know how to spell Sox. I mean, come on…

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 4:33 pm

    MRS P September 17, 2007, 4:33 pm
  • Mrs. P and DSwee are the same person…just ignore her/him, they don’t speak for Yankee fans.

    John - YF (Trisk) September 17, 2007, 4:39 pm
  • actually, paul, it is spelled “socks.”
    i googled it.
    according to peter abraham’s blog, it was gagne who hit rivera with a pitch, right on the pinky of his pitching hand.

    Yankee Fan In Boston September 17, 2007, 4:42 pm
  • I guess that removes the speculation that Gagne’s actually a Yankee plant.

    Paul SF September 17, 2007, 4:55 pm
  • I like the two scoreless innings in close games as far as disproving Gagne, the plant.
    PS Was his outing last night 1-2-3? If so, was that his first 1-2-3 inning for the SUX?

    Devine September 17, 2007, 5:05 pm
  • Mrs. P: I have the perfect mate for you. His tagline is BostonRAW – though he goes by the more familiar handle of “clownboy” in these parts. You and he seem to have similar rhetorical styles and “hotile” intent. (Incidentally, “hotile” does have a very similar meaning to “hostile”, but is reserved for descriptions of idiots.)

    IronHorse (yf) September 17, 2007, 5:41 pm

    MRS P-DSWEE September 17, 2007, 6:03 pm
    And yet she’s still here…hmmmmm…..

    IronHorse (yf) September 17, 2007, 6:07 pm

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