When talks about the AL and NL Cy Young awards comes up, the general consensus usually comes up with four or five solid candidates for the awards. This season, there is no doubt that the NL race is between these three guys:
Tim Lincecum (SF)
Adam Wainwright (StL)
Chris Carpenter (StL)
So, that race is one in itself. The AL race is a totally different race from my perspective. There are so many quality guys in the AL that are worthy of the award but since I pretty much have to narrow it down to a few guys, I have come up with five guys that could possibly win it.
Being a Yankee fan myself, you have to think I’m gonna start off with the top guy in the Yankees’ rotation. And he is not just on this list because of where he plays. He is a legitimate candidate. Sabathia came just short of reaching twenty wins for the season when the Rays tore up the Yankees on Friday, 13-4. CC just wasn’t on his game and unfortunately he was unable to make it to twenty wins. That doesn’t mean his chance at winning Cy Young were shattered. No it just means that he isn’t going to have the distinction of having twenty wins. It’s alright. Adam Wainwright was also denied twenty wins when he recorded a no decision in his final start of the regular season.
Sabathia has had the pleasure of playing in New York and behind an offense that is probably the best in the league at scoring runs. That right field fence has looked great all year for Yankee hitters and he has really taken advantage of that. His record to finish off the season is 19-8. A solid record for any pitcher. To get to 19 wins is a huge aspect of his Cy Young resume. His 8 losses aren’t too bad a total but Sabathia definitely had some trouble at the beginning of the year that drew up that ugly loss total.
Sabathia’s ERA at the end of the season totals up at 3.37 which is a respectable one. Any ERA below 3.50 is generally considered solid. Sabathia has really picked it up toward the end of the year compared to the beginning of the year. He had real trouble early and that is why his ERA after the first month of play was really high.
Sabathia also finished the season with 197 strikeouts. He finished two complete games and one shutout. Sabathia’s season was definitely worthy of a Cy Young award. But personally, he would be my third choice for the award this year despite being a Yankee. I know it’s unfortunate but I am making my picks according to how good they had over the season and Sabathia did not have the best season among the AL pitchers.
2. Felix Hernandez
This young flamethrowing Mariner is a clear candidate for the Cy Young this year. His season has included two complete games and one shutout. He struck out 211 guys over the season. And guess what… he still has one more start today. Despite playing for a Mariners team that lacks much offense, other than Ichiro, Hernandez has done a great job of maintaining his success. Hernandez has one more game to go but his current record is 18-5. A record that is a little better than Sabathia’s. Sabathia does have one more win than Hernandez but Hernandez has less losses. It’s close but that is not the only thing that goes into account when thinking of a Cy Young resume.
Hernandez has a phenominal 2.38 ERA which to me is just fantastic considering he doesn’t get much run support from the M’s. He really can control a game and knows how to get it done like the best of them…. wait a minute, he is one of the best of them.
Hernandez’s age is what is so amazing. He is so successful so early in his career, this being his fifth year in the league. He still has a long way to go and this success and poise he is showing now will surely get him into high places as his career goes on.
Hernandez also finished the season with 232 innings of work which is clearly more than any other guy on the Mariner rotation or bullpen. He has really done something special in Seattle this year and he is a legitimate Cy Young candidate as well. He is my second pick in this contest.
3. Justin Verlander
Verlander has also had a fantastic season. He has led that Tigers team back to the spotlight in the AL Central after a few really really really really… okay you get the point… bad years. With the Tigers on the brink of a playoff birth, Verlander will be a key to the Tigers’ success if they get to the playoffs.
Verlander finished this season with a 19-9 record. A very good one that easily compares with Sabathia’s and Hernandez’s that will go up as the top three records in the league. Verlander has been a solid… more than solid… top of the rotation guy for the Tigers. He has been the vocal point of this team all year. The offense hasn’t been great but it has been good enough to support the pitching and Verlander hasn’t really needed all that support. With the stuff he has, there isn’t really much you can do to support him other than put a single run up on the board.
Verlander always finishes at the top or near the top of the strikeout list. This season, he finished with 264 and every one made the opposing batter just look back and think about how good the pitch was. Verlander is that good. You always have to include this flamethrower in the Cy Young conversation. The only difference this year is that his team has been a little more successful and he has gotten more recognition that he has the past few years. Verlander’s ERA was also fantastic this season at 3.45 which is a little lower than Sabathia’s. To me, either him or Sabathia would go third in my voting but I would put Sabathia there because of the success of the Yankees this year. Nothing against Verlander but they are both great performers.
Verlander also finished the season three complete games and one shutout.
4. Roy Halladay
You always have to include Roy Halladay in the Cy Young talks no matter what. He has had that kind of influence in this league since he came into it as a rookie.
Halladay’s numbers this year have been down and his Cy Young resume has decreased in value. Much of this came from the constant rumors of his being traded at the deadline in the summer. His performance surrounding the deadline shows many stats that are uncharacteristic of his career. Some bad losses, tough ERA numbers. And just about anything that can go wrong during an outing. It happened to him.
Halladay didn’t have a terrible season though. His record was 17-10 to finish the season. Not terrible but a tough number of losses. He probably could’ve come up with a win or two more but that was due to the trade rumors and the fact that the Jays had a tough time getting runs on the board over a period of time over the summer.
Halladay is the lowest on my list of candidates for every reason I explained to you now. He finished with nine complete games and four shutouts, which are two stats he holds over the other candidates in this competition. He struck out 208 guys which is a respectable number. His season has been a generally good on but not a Cy Young good season.
Winner: Zack Greinke
I know, I know he’s on the Royals. But that is a key reason why he is the winner of this competition. I mean come on… a Royals pitcher in this conversation? That’s ridiculous. Well, it’s not. With the numbers he has put up this season, he is clearly the best pitcher in the AL.
His record doesn’t give him justice of how well he has pitched. At 16-8, Greinke has lossed more games than he should have if he had more run support. His ERA is a league low 2.16. That just proves that he really didn’t get enough run support ot get the wins. If he gave up one or two runs a game, he lost the game because of the lack of run support the Royals’ offense gave him.
Greinke also put up some good strikeout numbers finishing the season with 242. He six complete games and three shutouts. With the team he was pitching behind, I think it is possible that he could get a loss when he threw a shutout. Just kidding but still, I’m just making a point. Greinke’s season would’ve been no doubt a perfect Cy Young season if he was with any other team that could put up three or four runs a game of run support. The Royals have had a tough history and Greinke has been unfortunate enough to be stuck on that team and be such a great pitcher. With the talent he has, he is no doubt the Cy Young award winner in the AL this season.
P.S. My NL Cy Young vote is Adam Wainwright.
Andre Ethier accomplished a feat yesterday that not many people have done. Not that it hasn’t been done, because it has, but it isn’t very common. He hit three bombs in a single game against the Mariners. This feat by Ethier was a big contribution to the Dodgers’ 8–2 victory over the M’s in which 6 out of the 8 Dodger runs were driven in by Ethier. It just goes to show how important the long ball is. Now, people may argue about that saying that manufacturing runs is more important to a game (I would be one of them) but the long ball can be a big help as well. As long as you can get runs across the board, it all works out and the long ball was working for Ethier last night.
So, with the three jacks from last night, Ethier’s home run total for the season is at 14. He’s also got 49 RBI and is just tearing it up for the Dodgers. He has been their most important offensive player over the course of the Manny Ramirez suspension. He is what is keeping the offense rolling in LA. If he can hit on the road as well as he has hit at home this season, he can be an extremely dangerous force for the Dodgers. When Manny comes back, the offense will be back to the way it was, generally. But if Ethier keeps it up and the Dodgers find a way to keep Juan Pierre in the game, they will be a very good team. Maybe they can find a way to derail the streaking Rockies.
The Dodgers finish up interleague play against the Mariners today and tomorrow and then it’s back to NL-NL. I am predicting they will continue to roll on the way they have been. They will continue to be successful all around. There pitching has been good and Ethier has led the STELLAR offense with his hitting and they should continue to be a great show to watch.
My favorite pitch in baseball. It is almost unhittable if it is mastered. It allows you to get ground ball outs which gets you deeper into games. And it is and has been the key pitch for so many pitchers to play the game of baseball. Some of the names that pop out to you on stat sheets are those of power pitchers. But so many of the good pitchers in baseball establish their supremacy with their finesse. Their changeups, their sliders, their sinkers. Those are my types of pitchers. The guys that work around a count with their secondary pitches, not just their fastball. Nothing against guys like Tim Lincecum or Randy Johnson or any other power pitchers (I am a big fan of Lincecum), but finesse pitching is the stuff I enjoy watching. The likes of Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Johan Santana (despite being a big strikeout guy) are who I am talking about.
Derek Lowe spent about a year in Seattle with the Mariners where he picked up his first win on June 6th against the Twins. He was then traded to Boston along with catcher Jason Varitek. In Boston, Lowe thrived. He was very successful both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. After being in Boston for seven years. He was part of the team that won the first championship in 86 years, breaking the “Curse of the Bambino.” He then went on to play with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2004 championship run. He did return to Boston in a Red Sox jersey for their ring ceremony. He played with LA for three years before signing with the Atlanta Braves where he is currently playing. Over his career, Lowe never put up big strikeout numbers, never was a huge name that the opposing team highlighted on their game board before a series. He was good, but he wasn’t considered the toughest guy that would be on the mound.
Aaron Cook came up to the big leagues in 2002. He has played with the Rockies his whole career. He doesn’t have as interesting a story as Lowe does, but nonetheless, he is relevant to what I am talking about right now. He is another guy who doesn’t rely on the fastball 100% of the time. He is a finesse pitcher. He uses his sinker a lot to get guys out. He gets a lot of ground ball outs from this and he has been a very reliable guy for the Rockies over his career. Like Lowe, Cook’s strikeout numbers are never very high. But he is still a very big part of what is going on over in Colorado.
Johan Santana has a little bit of a different style of pitching than Lowe and Cook do. They both have very good sinkers but don’t have as good third and fourth pitches. Santana has the fastball, the very good changeup, and some other pitches that he uses to get guys out. Santana creates finesse pitching differently because he does it with the changeup. His strikeout numbers are generally up there. He has been the strikeout leader before and has always been close. Santana’s finesse is fun to watch because you never know when he is going to pull out that changeup. He doesn’t have the sinker, but he has that changeup.
So, I hope you all see how important finesse pitchers are to baseball. It’s not all about strikeouts. Although they are good to get, ground ball outs do the job just as well as strikeouts. It’s just that they don’t get on the stat sheet.
This past off-season was highlighted with the Yankees’ shopping spree in which they signed three of the top free agents on the market; Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira. But among all the noise that the Yankees were making, the defending champion Phillies were making their own moves, including one to bring former Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Raul Ibanez to Philly. Now, Ibanez has been very good over the last few seasons of his career. When the Phillies signed him, they were hoping he would be a good replacement for Pat Burrell, who left to the Rays as a free agent. Ibanez has proven to be more than a good replacement. He is the Phillies’ top offensive player so far this season. Here are some of his stats:
- .312 batting average
- 22 jacks
- 59 RBI
- .656 slugging percentage
- 164 total bases
This guy is just tearing it up. Now, a strained groin has him on the 15 day DL. What a kick in the groin. Ibanez’s STELLAR season so far is going to have to go on hold for a little bit. And the Phils… they lose their top offensive production. Not that they don’t have any more (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino), but this loss is a huge misfortune for the Phitting Phils.
Being the defending world champs, they have had a lot on their shoulders, as has any other defending champion team. They have pretty much lived up to their expectations of having another good season. But this loss might end up being fatal to their championship run. With the tough NL East, the Phils will definitely have their hands full.
Ibanez was on pace to easily be in the running for MVP. Others in the NL that could make a run for it this season may be Albert Pujols, his teammate Chase Utley, David Wright and Brad Hawpe (I know a lot of you don’t know him but he’s having a really good season for Colorado).
The strained groin might keep him out for the All Star game, which he has the most votes for among NL outfielders. He is just having a great season and this injury may have ruined it. Hopefully for the Phils, he can heal quickly and they can get him back in time to continue their run for the playoffs.
I’m sure that’s exactly what Zack Greinke, the Royals’ young star pitcher, is thinking right now after he just got smoked for five runs on nine hits (two homers) and a walk. He also had two unearned runs allowed in his five inning outing. Greinke must have been shocked, after so many STELLAR performances to start the season. He is among the top two pitchers in the AL and is in the running for a start in this season’s all star game. He is no doubt an all star but his only other competition for the start is the Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay who is also having a STELLAR season. Some competition, huh?
Greinke is currently 8-2 on the season with a league best 1.55 ERA. He also has 91 strikeouts which is also one of the best totals in the league. He is having an overall great season and this one loss won’t hurt him. This loss is definitely shocking… I’m shocked. But it really isn’t that big a deal. He still has one of the best records, has the best ERA, despite it being over 1, and has a great number of K’s. He is great. A youngster who is having a Cy Young season is something that the Royals need. Someone who can lead the team and get them somewhere. He’s going to be fine.
Now, the competition for the starting all star job is between Halladay and Greinke. That’s no doubt. They are the top two pitchers in the league and there is no one even close to having as good a season as these two are having. So who should it be?
My pick: Halladay.
Why: He has a better record. His performances this season have equally matched that of Greinke’s, and his team is winning. Halladay has been great throughout his career. He still is. Greinke is still young and I have no doubt that he will be a starter in the all star game sometime in his career. But right now, the spotlight is on Halladay who has proven himself over and over again that he is one of the best in the business.
So nothing against Greinke, because I happen to like him very much, but I think this season, it should be Halladay. But next year… who knows? Maybe next year will be Greinke’s turn.
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Another “Wow, did that just happen” moment from this week was Randy Johnson’s entry into the 300 win club. Way to go man. You’ve earned it. Johnson’s career so far has been STELLAR and he is still going. That’s amazing. This milestone is one of the most respected of all milestones reached in baseball.. I think it is the one you have to work the hardest for. It’s great for everyone who has reached it and Randy Johnson is now among some of the greatest pitchers of all time. Throughout his career, he has pitched for the Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks (two stints), Yankees, and Giants. Here’s a little summary of his career.
Johnson has been the type of pitcher who would be set to pitch and the other team wouldn’t want to face him. He was a tall, powerful pitcher. He had a good fastball and good secondary pitches. He was just a great overall pitcher that new the game. Opponents didn’t want to face him. He has pitched a perfect game. He has demolished a bird in mid-air (not something you want him to do to you) and has come up big for all of the teams he has played for in his great career.
So now that you’ve heard some of that, I hope you would come to appreciate how hard it is to get to this milestone. Way to go man.
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Now here’s the last of my stories from this week. This also happened last night. It happened in the Mariners- Twins game. Ichiro, riding a 2 game hitting streak, went hitless against Twins pitchign ending his streak at 27. It was a disappointing game for the Mariners and Ichiro as his streak was snapped and the Mariners lost 2-1. Ichiro’s streak wasn’t the first long one of the season. Everyone remembers Ryan Zimmerman’s earlier this season which ended at 30 games. There have been others but none have gone as high as these two which have gained much attention all over the MLB community.
Ichiro has had a great season overall this year and is bound to get an all star bid for the mid summer classic in St. Louis. I have Ichiro among my votes for one of the outfield starting spots. Along with Jason Bay and Curtis Granderson.