This year, the Cy Young debate is hardly a debate at all. It seems like a forgone conclusion that Jake Peavy will take home the hardware for the NL, while C.C. Sabathia will be the AL pitcher clearing off his mantel. I suppose I can agree with that. Thus, this post will be dedicated to acknowledging this year’s also-rans.
In the NL, Peavy’s 19-6 record, 223.1 IP, 240 K’s, and 2.54 ERA are hot indeed. But Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks made the same number of starts (34) and pitched more innings (236.1) leading to a few more decisions (18-10). Of course, his ERA is higher (3.01) and his strikeouts were fewer (194). I feel I also ought to mention Brad Penny of the Dodgers and John Smoltz of the Braves. Neither was good enough to be the NL Cy this year, of course, but they still put up good numbers. In fact, their numbers were eerily similar to one another’s. Except, of course, for Smoltz’s better strikeout rate. And we throw a tiny scrap in the direction of Aaron Harang of Cincinnati, for being the Chien-Ming Wang of the NL. Only, because he doesn’t pitch for the Yankees, his name hasn’t been bandied about at all. I’m sure he feels, if not harangued (ha) then at least a bit forlorn.
In the AL, Cleveland’s Sabathia has been a beast. 241 innings pitched! 34 starts! 209 strikeouts! Only 37 walks! And his 3.21 ERA ain’t too shabby either. Plus, I’m sure Cleveland is very happy with the 19-7 record. And he seems determined to single-handedly revive the lost art of the complete game. Of course, he wasn’t exactly masterful against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, but he was good enough to get by. But our sympathies should really extend to Fausto Carmona. If he hadn’t been so overshadowed by the No. 1 starter on his own team, we might be talking about him for the Cy. His ERA is an even better 3.06, and though he pitched fewer innings (215 in 32 starts) and didn’t strike out nearly as many (137) or walk so few (61), his record is nearly identical at 19-8. Then there’s Josh Beckett of the Red Sox, the only 20-game winner during the regular season. No sign of fatigue, either, as he threw a complete-game shutout against the Angels in Game 1 of the ALDS. His 194 K’s and 40 walks in 200.2 innings (in 30 starts) aren’t anything to sneeze at, and his ERA of 3.27 is perfectly decent. But even the nice, round number of 20 wins isn’t quite enough to dislodge C.C. from his throne. Finally, John Lackey has barely gotten a mention, even though he has the best ERA in the league (3.01) and a comparable record (19-9). His 224 IP in 33 starts are better than the other also-rans, and his 179 K’s and 52 walks are certainly comparable. Yet his candidacy barely got any airtime. No, people wanted to talk about Chien-Ming Wang instead. While Wang’s season was impressive, his numbers definitely put him at the bottom of the pack (see Aaron Harang, above). And we curtly nod in the direction of Scott Kazmir, who was the AL strikeout leader this season, but walked 89 batters and who couldn’t do better than 13-9 because of Tampa Bay’s atrocious bullpen. We also acknowledge Eric Bedard, whose monstrous 10.93 K/9 rate would surely have gotten him better than a 13-5 record were he not toiling away for the Orioles.
Remember, also-rans: there’s always next year.