Archive for September, 2005

The NL Cy Young and the fallacy of wins

The Baseball Gods have long enjoyed playing games with the Cy Young Award, and this year is no different.

In 2001, Roger Clemens undeservingly won the Cy Young Award because he had a 20-3 record. This season, Roger Clemens won’t win the Cy Young Award he deserves because of won-loss record.

Four years ago, when Clemens was pitching on the Yankees and was just 38 years old, he went 20-3 with a 3.51 ERA. He struck out 213 in 220.1 innings en route to what was then his sixth Cy Young Award.

While these numbers placed Clemens in the top ten of nearly every pitching category, the general consensus that year seemed to be that Clemens’ teammate Mike Mussina would have been a better choice for the Cy Young Award. Mussina’s 3.15 ERA was good for second in the league, just 0.10 runs behind Freddy Garcia. Mussina recorded one fewer strike out that Clemens, had a better walk ratio than the Rocket, and threw three shut outs and four complete games while Roger managed goose eggs in both of those categories.

Yet, the Baseball Writers Association of America loved the gaudy 20-3 record and the fact that Clemens had managed to win 20 games at age 38. He won the Cy Young in a season during which Yankee fans didn’t even regard him as the best pitching on their team let alone the entire American League.

Of course, baseball always takes back those generous gifts, it seems, and this year, Clemens will be denied his Cy Young.

It’s hard to argue with Clemens’ numbers. He’s doing something no one his age (currently 43, but who’s counting?) has ever done. In 192.1 innings, Clemens is throwing to an ERA of 1.78. Opponents are hitting .188 against him with a .251 on-base percentage and a .272 slugging. He’s allowed 129 hits or 63 fewer hits than innings pitched while striking out 171.

Even more impressive are the Rocket’s home-road splits. After last night’s disastrous outing in Milwaukee during which Clemens gave up five earned runs in three innings, his road ERA clocks in at an even 1.00. He’s thrown 90 innings on the road while giving up just 10 earned runs and striking out 81. The baseball world rarely witnesses pitchers this dominant anymore, and Clemens is doing this at age at which nearly every player except for Julio Franco has already hung up their spikes.

The only problem is that the Astros have delivered just 11 wins so far for Roger Clemens. Sometimes the offense is shut out; sometimes the bullpen has blown games. Either way, Clemens, with just four or five starts left, has a shot at winning 15 games. But he can’t come close to Chris Carpenter’s lofty 21 wins and counting.

While I believe that Clemens deserves the recognition simply because he’s pitching an outstanding season at age 43, Clemens’ main competition has nearly outpitched him and is equally deserving of the Cy Young Award. The Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter – the true ace that should deliver his team a World Series championship this year – has 21 wins and 4 losses. His ERA is 2.21, now just 0.40 runs higher than Clemens’. Opponents are hitting .213/.256/.322 against him. He has 198 strike outs in 220 innings, four shut outs and seven complete games.

At this point in the season, many baseball writers on the Internet have long conceded the Cy Young to Carpenter. His win total which could top out at 25 and the rest of his impressive numbers are too hard to ignore even in light of Clemens’ accomplishments this year. But this debate underscores the fallacy of the won-loss record.

In 2001, Clemens won the Cy Young because he had an .870 winning percentage. He wasn’t as good that year for the Yankees as he is this year for the Astros. But this year, his team hasn’t won with him on the mound. Winning, then, is not at all a decent indication of how a pitcher has performed. Winning is one way of interpreting a pitcher’s success. But as Clemens has shown, a pitcher can be downright dominant without reeling in the wins if the offense behind him or the bullpen backing him up can’t emerge victorious after the ninth inning ends.

Both Clemens and Chris Carpenter deserve major recognition for outpitching the league mean ERA by over 2.00 runs a game. But in the end, Carpenter will walk away with the award because he won more games. Whether or not he’s more deserving than Clemens is impossible to tell. I would want both of them on my hypothetical team. But this debate just shows that sometimes it’s hard to let go of the so-called traditional stats well after they’ve been proven obsolete time and time again.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • The Best and Worst of Luis Severino [2018 Season Review] November 13, 2018
    The Yankees have been trying for years — literally more than a decade — to develop a homegrown top of the rotation starter. Chien-Ming Wang was that guy for two seasons. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes had their moments. Now, the Yankees finally have that young top of the rotation arm, and he showed in […] The post The Best and Worst of Luis Severino [2018 […]
    Mike
  • Scouting the Free Agent Market: Bryce Harper November 13, 2018
    As of this writing, the Yankees seemingly do not have a demonstrative need for an outfielder. Last year’s regulars Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and the re-signed Brett Gardner are all under team control, as are injury question marks Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury. And, with the possibility of another year of budgetary constraints […] The p […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • RAB is hiring: Facebook Page Manager November 13, 2018
    With over 8700 followers who are actively engaged in the Yankee conversation, the River Ave. Blues Facebook page is a key part of our online presence, and now RAB is looking for a new Facebook Page Manager who can oversee the page, keeping an eye on the tenor and tone of the conversation while growing […] The post RAB is hiring: Facebook Page Manager appeare […]
    Benjamin Kabak
  • Miguel Andujar finishes runner-up to Shohei Ohtani for Rookie of the Year November 12, 2018
    The Yankees will not have back-to-back AL Rookies of the Year. Earlier tonight, MLB and the BBWAA announced Angels slugger-slash-pitcher Shohei Ohtani has been named the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year. Ohtani received 25 of 30 first place votes. Miguel Andujar came in second and received the other five first place votes. Gleyber Torres […] The post Miguel Anduja […]
    Mike
  • The Tantalizing Sixth Starter [2018 Season Review] November 12, 2018
    Not counting that weird two-inning spot start by Chad Green that gave everyone an extra day of rest, the Yankees made it all the way until mid-June before needing a sixth starter last season. A minor left hamstring issue sent CC Sabathia to the disabled list for two weeks. His replacement, Luis Cessa, made his […] The post The Tantalizing Sixth Starter [2018 […]
    Mike
  • Scouting the Trade Market: James Paxton November 12, 2018
    Baseball’s finances are broken. Despite record high revenue revenues, three large market teams (Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees) are reportedly going to limit their spending to some degree this offseason — the Cubs had to trade Drew Smyly and his $7M salary to pick up Cole Hamels’ option — and a three-time division winner (Indians) is said […] The post Scouting the T […]
    Mike
  • Fan Confidence Poll: November 12th, 2018 November 12, 2018
    2018 Regular Season Record: 100-62 (851 RS, 669 RA, 98-64 expected record), second in ALE 2018 Postseason Record: 2-3 (22 RS, 29 RA), won WC Game, lost ALDS Top stories from last week: Welcome back, CC Sabathia. The Yankees re-signed Sabathia to a one-year deal worth $8M. Also, the Yankees signed Ryan Lavarnway and re-signed […] The post Fan Confidence Poll: […]
    Mike
  • Two Sunday Thoughts November 11, 2018
    To all our readers who’ve served, we wish you a peaceful Veteran’s Day.  To all our Californian readers, we hope you’re safe and secure.  With the exception of Jerry Dipoto doing Jerry Dipoto things by making a trade with the Rays, this part of the offseason is fairly quiet. Teams are still figuring out their […] The post Two Sunday Thoughts appeared first o […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • The Yankees Will Get A Better Haul for Sonny Gray Than You Think November 10, 2018
    Brian Cashman, so the saying goes, is a ninja. The reputation is deserved: Yankee moves often materialize quickly and (from our perspective) out of nowhere. The organization as a whole rarely tips its hand with regard to its plans – an impressive feat considering the hyper-intense media environment in which it operates. That is why […] The post The Yankees W […]
    Bobby Montano
  • Friday Notes: Steinbrenner, Rule Changes, Prospect Rankings November 9, 2018
    The GM Meetings are over and now we have about a month to wait before all hell breaks loose at the Winter Meetings. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s the Official RAB 2018-19 Offseason Plan. I’m linking back to it here only because it took forever to write and I don’t want it […] The post Friday Notes: Steinbrenner, Rule Changes, Prospect Rankings ap […]
    Mike

Blog Stats

  • 62,736 hits
Advertisements