I read an article on MLB.com last night that suggested that Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was this year’s clear choice for AL Cy Young.
The article was written by Tom Singer. I just pray this guy doesn’t have an actual Cy Young vote. Because he doesn’t get it.
Singer thinks Wang will win because voters will give him credit for last season.
If Cy Young balloting were like some cell phone plans, Wang would be a shoo-in thanks to rollover votes. He didn’t receive a single first-place vote last year, even though he matched winner Johan Santana’s 19-6 record. So now he is producing a carbon copy, with no one even close to his two-year record of 37-12 (Santana is 34-17, Justin Verlander 33-14, Roy Halladay 30-12). But what makes Wang truly stand out is his responsibility for the Yankees’ contention, through his remarkable consistency. He has not made it to at least the sixth inning only twice in 27 starts.
Let’s ignore Singer’s obvious problems with syntax and talk about everything that is wrong with his argument. First, Cy Young voting isn’t like some cell phone plans. You don’t get credit for what you did in previous seasons.
Second, while Wang has been the only truly consistent member of the 2007 Yankee pitching staff, he hasn’t been lights out. But guess what? When you pitch for the Yankees, you don’t need to be. You just need to keep your team in the game and let the Yankees offense pile up runs behind you.
Singer seems to think Wang should get extra credit because the rest of the Yankee staff is so bad. Likewise, he thinks pitchers like Josh Beckett and C.C. Sabathia should be penalized for being part of fairly competant staffs.
Here’s what he says about Beckett:
Beckett has raised his victory total and has become a smart pitcher, not just a hothead thrower. Leading evidence of that is having more than halved both his walks (74 to 36) and homer yields (36 to 14). But he doesn’t stand out on his staff as Wang does on his; not even close.
I don’t know what to say to that. He “doesn’t stand out on his staff”? Have Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield been helping Beckett pitch somehow? Does just standing in proximity to other successful pitchers make Beckett more successful?
I think what must have happened here is that Tom Singer probably went ice fishing. Or mountain climbing. Probably sometime during the 1980s, before Bill James really got popular and before Moneyball was published. And he probably got caught in an ice storm and was frozen alive and wasn’t discovered and thawed out until very recently. Because that’s the only way to account for a guy who gets paid to write about baseball being this out of touch with how we value pitching.
Speaking of James, he and ESPN.com writer Rob Neyer have devised a method, called the Cy Young Predictor. You can check it out on ESPN.com’s baseball statistics page. It’s a complicated formula that the two devised while working together on a book. It looks like this:
Cy Young Points (CYP) = ((5*IP/9)-ER) + (SO/12) + (SV*2.5) + Shutouts + ((W*6)-(L*2)) + VB
VB= victory bonus, a 12-point bonus awarded for leading your team to the division champsionship.
According to the formula, C.C. Sabathia is the leading Cy Young candidate in the AL this year. That makes a lot of sense. Sabathia has a lower ERA than both Wang and Beckett. He has a lower WHIP. He has more strikeouts. And he’s been a total workhorse, pitching 15 more innings than the second hardest working pitcher, John Lackey.
In short, Sabathia has been a better pitcher this year than anyone else in the AL. Unless you factor in things like last year’s wins, or proximity to other talented pitchers. Then you’ve got to give it to Wang.