The odds that a losing pitcher actually wins a Cy Young Award are about the same as beating the dealer in five consecutive hands playing baccarat online. Seriously. It’s usually that improbable.
In Major League Baseball, we’re looking at a sport so rich in tradition, so stuck in its ways, that it’s like pulling teeth to institute instant replay to get calls right. Baseball is slower to change its operations than any other sport out there, and they live on stats. Records are sacred, and pitchers on losing teams with losing records are usually overlooked by Cy Young voters.
Felix Hernandez was awarded the American League Cy Young on Thursday, boasting an overall record of 13 wins and 12 losses. And while the odds of such a record winning the award are really astronomical, the decision makes perfect sense once you weigh out the rest of King Felix’s statistics.
In 34 games, roughly 250 innings pitches, Felix had a blistering low ERA of 2.27, giving up 63 earned runs and recording 232 strikeouts – his best all-around season by far and the best season in the AL this year.
The fact that he only won 13 games is extremely misleading. Sure, Boston’s dynamic duo of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz were certainly strong pitchers this year, but there weren’t on Felix’s level. The Yankees’ CC Sabathia also gave a great performance, as well as Tampa’s David Price, and both the Rays and New York made the playoffs. But when it was all said and done, Hernandez was simply better than the competition.
On a team with even the slightest bit of run support, Felix would have not only eclipsed the 20-win mark, but we might be looking at an AL Pennant-winner. That’s how great he was this year.
Going 13-12 will always make some cringe to look at that lone statistic, but it’s important to understand that Hernandez was out there losing games 2-1, 3-2, 4-2, etc, and didn’t really have a single game that you could call “bad” by baseball standards.
The odds of Felix repeating this type of performance next year are actually pretty good. He’s still a very young man, only 24, and he’s signed with the Seattle Mariners through 2014 (meaning they have their ace locked up, so it’s time to offer some much-needed run support). You wouldn’t find odds this good if you were to play video poker online or that local office football pool.
Felix has what voters are looking for, and that was evident when he earned 21 of 28 possible first-place votes.
Seattle will probably fail to make the playoffs again next year, and may in fact play just as poorly on offense, but expect Felix to continue to play some lights-out baseball.