Were you at all surprised? I’m actually quite surprised. I was mostly leaning towards Felix Hernandez myself because he was at the top of more categories than CC Sabathia but, as I said a while back (prior to this blog, so you’ll have to take my word for it 😉 ), I wasn’t going to be disappointed if it turned out the other way.
However, I absolutely did not expect Felix to win so by so many votes. I expected the decision to be more along the lines of Thursday, Thursday, Thursday! It’s AL Cy Young 2010, a bare knuckled, no holds barred brawl for ultimate supremacy. Sabermetrics vs. traditional stats! Okay, perhaps I am exaggerating just a tiny bit for effect, but I certainly did not expect CC to come in 3rd. And, somehow I completed discounted David Price in the middle of all of this, and so did most of the analysis I’ve read the last few weeks. Looking at his stats now, he’s certainly up there, although a little behind CC in strikeouts, innings pitched, wins and wins above replacement, so still I still find the results an interesting puzzle there.
While I am glad to see that win record was not the most important stat in this year’s voting, I am surprised it wasn’t a little more important. The traditional view is that win total is pretty much the be all to end all stat for pitchers. The sabermetric view is that wins say virtually nothing about a pitcher’s ability and are more of a measure of the rest of the team’s offensive and fielding success. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Otherwise you’re saying that if you stuck almost any pitcher in the game in CC Sabbathia’s place, the win total would have been roughly the same (new school of stats), or that if you paired Felix Hernandez with any other team, his win total would have stayed more of less the same (traditional school of stats). Viewed this way, both extremes of the spectrum sound just that, pretty extreme. Clearly, pitchers do not have total control over the game’s eventual outcome, but suggesting they have no control over it is equally ridiculous.
It will be interesting for me over the next few years to see how Major League Baseball eventually views the wins stat. Clearly it is the most important stat in the game – you play to win – but can it really tell us anything more specific about a team or player’s performance? I think it’s too broad and all encompassing a stat to be the top measure of any individual player’s performance, but it’s too important a stat to completely ignore. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but there is no whole story without it. In 2010, Felix’s low win record certainly did not reflect the year he actually had on the mound, but I would argue that CC’s high win total did a better job of reflecting the year he actually had on the mound than some of his other stats.
I definitely think the right guy won this year, but the rest of the results were more than a little odd for me. But hey, hey, let’s hear it for Jered Weaver, another pitcher whose win record seriously did not reflect the year he had on the mound, cracking the top five!