I’m not going to waste your time with a big lead in. Game 2 between the Phillies and Dodgers starts in an hour. So let’s get right to it.
I love Brad Lidge. He’s like a brother to me. And without him the Phillies wouldn’t be playing October baseball right now. But he pitched in 69 innings this season. By comparison, CC Sabathia pitched in 130 innings during his half season in the NL. So I have a hard time giving the award to Lidge, this season’s most dominant reliever, when there are a handful of starters who had equally dominant seasons and pitched in far more innings.
For me, this boils down to a race between three guys: Brandon Webb, Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum. Webb led the NL in wins, which is something he can feel good about. But it’s not something I value particularly highly. Santana led the league in ERA, which is a more important metric, but still not the end-all-be-all. Lincecum was second in wins and ERA, as well as VORP among NL pitchers, and he led the league in strikeouts by a lot, led the league in K/9 by a full run, led the league in pitching win shares and led the league in pitching runs created. He’s got my vote.
In the AL it’s really a two horse race. And it’s a dead heat. Cliff Lee led the league in wins and ERA, was second in WHIP and was ninth in strikeouts. Roy Halladay led the league in WHIP, was second in ERA and wins and third in strikeouts. The two pitchers tied for the league lead in pitching runs created. They both had the same number of quality starts (23).
Maybe one of these pitchers benefited disproportionately from above average defensive support? In a word, no. Lee’s ERA, independent of the defense behind him, was 2.95, good for first in the AL. Halladay’s DIPS was 3.07, second in the league.
Halladay led the league in innings pitched. Lee was a distant second, 23 innings behind Halladay. Lee was also second in complete games, with 4. Halladay led the league in complete games with 9.
This really is a toss up. I’ll give it to Halladay, because he had a lot more strikeouts, which is the best result a pitcher can achieve, and he threw more complete games. But in a perfect world these two guys would share the award.