Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The CC Cy Young Watch Begins. And Ends.

This weekend ABJ scribe Patrick McManamon made the case for Tribe ace CC Sabathia winning the Cy Young award. It's a wonderful idea to dream on. It's been decades since an Indian's pitcher was in the conversation for the award, and longer still since that conversation didn't include a side discussion about saliva on baseballs. What's more, Cleveland fans have lived through a succession of highly-touted fireballers who never quite dominated like they were supposed to -- think Greg Swindell, Jaret Write, Bartolo Colon.

Tribe fans could be forgiven up to this season for thinking that CC would join that list of good-but-not-great pitchers showing flashes of brilliance but unable to sustain it for a season. This year, CC has broken out, turning in a performance that legitimately makes him one of the top two or three starters in the league. But not, alas, the best.

McManamon offers a solid effort, full of the kind of obscure stats that hometown writers excavate when making the case for their guy:

    Sabathia started Friday night's game with a streak of 10 games in a row in which he had pitched at least six innings and given up two or fewer runs. That's something that has been achieved only six times in the majors since 2003.

    He leads the majors in innings pitched, and is on pace to become the first Indians pitcher since Bob Feller in 1947 to lead the league in that category. His ratio of 5.61 strikeouts per walk is the third best by a left-handed pitcher since 1901.
The problem is that Cy Young voters don't geekily crunch numbers like this for every candidate. Cy Young voting inevitably boils down to win/loss record and ERA. The most sophisticated the analysis will get is looking at permutations like the number of games over .500 or wins over 20.

If CC had a chance this weekend, it ended when he pulled a tough no-decision against KC Saturday night, and Boston ace Josh Beckett won his 19th decision. Unless Beckett loses his last couple decisions and CC wins out, he will likely end up behind Beckett in ERA, total wins and win/loss percentage. In fact, Sabathia currently is tied for third in total wins and tied for sixth in ERA.

In addition, odds are pretty good that Beckett will not only lead the league in wins, but will be the only 20 game winner, almost assuring him the award. And Beckett has all the arguably unfair tangibles going for him: He's a proven ace, he's pitching in a major media market and in a tight, closely watched pennant race against uber-media team New York. In other words, he's far more on the radar of the coastal Cy Young voters than Sabathia.

Hopefully CC will get another look at it, but this is not his year. Still, he's got that streak of 6-inning starts. They can't take that away from him.


Anonymous said...

fwiw- Bartolo won the Cy Young with LA a few years ago and probably would have won it in 2002 for the Tribe if he hadn't been traded out of the AL midseason.

Not that I'm complaining, I'd rather have Grady Sizemore at this point.

Just saying, he's no Wright, Swindell, et al.