Posted by Rorschach

The winner of the 2008 Cy Young Award will be announced tomorrow.  Mike Mussina is in the running for a Top-5 finish.  If he gets any votes at all, it’ll be the first time he’s finished in the running since 2001 (his first season in New York).  If he can finish better then 5th, it will be his best finish since 1999.  Moose’s 2nd place finish to the un-hittable Pedro that year, is his best finish in Cy Young voting history.

The 2008 AL Cy Young will go to Cliff Lee.  We called this race back on September 2nd, when Lee won his 20th game of the season.  Lee was fantastic in every area of his game and will earn a very well deserved Cy Young award come noontime tomorrow.

The question is; how will the the rest of the voting sort itself out?  It’s a four man race for spots 2-5 between Roy Halladay, Francisco Rodriguez, Daisuke Matsuzaka (hereto known as Dice-K to avoid numerous misspellings) and Mike Mussina.

Francisco Rodriguez will finish a close second.  Lee deserves, but won’t get all of the first place votes.  K-Rod made too much news down the stretch with his pursuit of the all-time saves record.  I’ve written before that that didn’t help Bobby Thigpen much in 1990.  But that was 1990 and, well, it was Bobby Thigpen.  Rodriguez has much more name recgonition and respect within the game.  He also played for the best team in the American League during the regular season.  His pursuit was tracked nightly on Sports center.  It doesn’t matter that Mo Rivera and Joe Nathan probably had better seasons, Rodriguez got the record and the attention.  This will propel the voters to make him second.

Roy Halladay will finish third.  He won as many games as Moose and lost two more, but he was a better pitcher.  Halladay dominated the league with an amazing nine complete games, finished 2nd to Lee in ERA, 1st in WHIP, 1st in innings, 3rd in strikeouts and 1st in K/BB ratio. Halladay along with A.J. Burnett kept the Blue Jays in the wild card race long after their paltry hitting should have made the team an after thought.  Halliday is something to marvel at.  He and Cliff Lee were the two best pitchers in the American League this season.  There’s no way around it.

Mike Mussina will be in a close race with Dice-K, but will finish fourth.  Moose’s capture of the elusive 20 will give him the push to overtake Dice-K in the voting.  Mussina finished 6th in ERA, 10th in WHIP, 2nd in BB/9 and 4th in K/BB ratio.   Along with the extra boast of finally winning 20 games, voters should realize that Mussina’s pitching was the only thing that kept the Yankees competitive this season.  After Mussina’s masterful pitching the Yankees best hope was a washed up Andy Pettitte who finished 14-14 and completely faded down the stretch.  The only setback might occur if voters sent in their ballots before Mussina won his 20th game on the season’s final game or before he tore off this 3 game winning season to close the season (which also featured 16 consecutive shutout innings).

Dice-K will finish close to Mussina, but hopefully not close enough, and settle for fifth place.  Dice-K’s season is an strange statistical mix.  He finished 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA, good enough for 3rd in the league.  Besides that though, there’s not much to tell.  He only finished in the top-10 of two other catergories; 1st in hits allowed per 9 and fifth in strikeouts per 9.  He also did lead the league in walks allowed.  Remember that old little league adage, “A walk is as good as a hit?”  Apparently they don’t teach that in Japan.  I don’t think anyone has ever lead the league in both walks allowed and allowed the fewest hits.

It should also be noted that Dice-K missed at least 4 or 5 stats this season because of injury.  In fact his 167.67 innings in 29 starts barely gave him the required 162 innings required to qualify for the ERA title.   John Smoltz had an eerily similiar injury-shortened but high winning percentage season in 1998.  Smoltz finished 17-3 with a 2.90 ERA.  He finished tied for 4th in the Cy Young voting with Greg Maddux.

A.J. Burnett will also garner some votes.  But his ERA is too high to be considered among the top tier canidates.  After K-Rod only Joakim Soria and Jonathon Papelbon recorded 40 saves, with 42 and 41 respectively.  Neither should receive any votes.  John Lester and Ervin Santana both pitched excellently this summer, but only ended up with 16 wins.  That’s not enough to earn votes when you have 3 guys who managed 20.

Final Picks:
Cliff Lee
Fransisco Rodriguez
Roy Halliday
Mike Mussina
Diasuke Matsuzake
A.J. Burnett

Last year there were 28 first place votes cast by the voters.  Lee will pick up 24 this year and K-Rod will steal 4.

Posted by The Moose

There is not a chance in the world that K-Rod finishes ahead of Halladay. NONE. I would bet my Mussina card collection on it. To begin with, there are so many writers/voters who consider saves to be overrated, it’s going to hurt Rodriguez. This is even more apparent now then it was in 1990. Second, most people who actually watched baseball this season know that K-Rod’s season paled in comparison to Rivera’s, Nathan’s and even Soria’s.

Lee’s going to win this thing in a relative walk. But Halladay will take some first place votes and finish in 2nd. Why? He led the league in WHIP, innings, CG, SHO, and K/BB ratio. He finished 2nd in wins and ERA, and 3rd in strikeouts. There’s no way a starting pitcher putting up those numbers will finish behind a closer. Want more proof? Brad Lidge didn’t blow a single save this year and he finished 4th.

Once we get past those two guys, it’s really semantics. They’ll take most of the 1st and 2nd place votes, and once we get below that, it’s tough to tell anyone apart. K-Rod will probably slide into third here, because a few West Coast writers will put him 2nd, and someone is bound to vote for him to finish 1st.

Now we get into Mussina vs. Dice-k. I think Mussina will finish 4th. Although his ERA is worse, he pitched the entire season. There’s also the natural 20-win bias, this time likely to work in Mussina’s favor. And as ESPN’s Keith Law said when presented with a question about why Dice-K didn’t get more love: “I guess it’s because people have actually watched him pitch this season and know he’s actually not that good.” Must be the league leading 94 walks in only 164 innings.

After Mussina and Dice-K, you’ll see Rivera, maybe Nathan, then a bunch of starters like Saunders, Burnett and Lester. But to recap the Top 5:

1. Lee
2. Halladay
3. K-Rod
4. Mussina
5. Dice-K

We’ll have a complete recap of the voting and it’s aftermath tomorrow.

In other news the Yankees have signed Damatso Marte to a three-year contact.  If you have any clue why they would do so please let us know.  This is not a good sign for how the off-season will go.

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10 thoughts on “2008 AL Cy Young Previews

  1. I’m not all that sure that Mike will get any votes. *ducks tomatoes* I would guess most writers send in their ballots before the last day of the season, and the lack of complete games is an issue. Writers do love wins, but last year CMW won 19 games, same as CC, and didn’t receive any votes IIRC.

  2. No tomatoes here. We welcome all comments and thoughts.

    I think the voters see a difference between winning 19 games and winning 20. That’s why Mussina’s accomplishment this season was so important.

    I am also worried about the early voting. Honestly, if I had a ballot I might have marked Lee of as #1 and sent it in circa mid-September.

  3. Most of the knocks on Mussina also apply to Clemens back when he was racking up Cy Young votes. Clemens was a 6 inning pitcher who I think managed like 1 total CG his last 9 seasons but the voters loved the 20 wins.

  4. Rodriguez should finish no better than fourth, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he won the damn thing. People who know nothing about baseball love saves and closers. Also, Joe Nathan was better.

    Should be:

    1. Halladay
    2. Lee
    3. Mussina
    4. E. Santana
    5. Beckett

    Will be:

    1. Lee
    2. Halladay
    3. Matsuzaka
    4. K-Rod
    5. Mussina

  5. Wow, he was only 6th! I wasn’t expecting higher than 4th, but at least top 5. When Mussina gets the Wins, he can’t win. And when he gets the ERA/WHIP/Ks and not the Wins, he can’t win either. Oh well, I guess there are some weird rules that apply to Moose.

  6. Well, I was kind of interested in this because I’m obviously a Moose fan and seeing him finish in the top 3 would have been cool, but now it’s time to stop caring about MLB awards. Baseball writers don’t know anything.

  7. Should Mike Mussina be in the HOF?

    Not at all.

    0 Cy Youngs
    0 perfect games
    0 no-hitters
    0 World Series Titles
    0 MVPs


    He played 18 years, 10 with Baltimore and 8 with New York. Ironically, the New York Yankees started out as the Baltimore Orioles.

    During his time with the Birds:

    Five-time all-star
    (on a team that was an o.k. team except for ‘91 and 2000, the first and last years he was with them)
    MVP voting twice
    Cy Young voting 7 of 10 years
    Lowest Team ERA 8 of 10 years
    Average an 18% share of his team’s wins

    During his time with the Yanks:

    Never made the all-stars
    MVP and Cy young voting only one year (2008)
    Lowest Team ERA 4 of 8 years
    Only one year had 18% share of his team’s wins (in 2008)

    The biggest thing I noticed was the fact that his completed games dropped off significantly during his time with the Yankees as did quality starts, but his innings per year didn’t. He started more games, but won less. He won more than 50% of the games he started in Baltimore, but less than 50% in New York. Even with a better team, better pitching staff, and a much better General Manager, Mussina did not fair as well as he did with the Orioles.

    Mussina averaged a win less per year with the Orioles, but almost a 3% share of wins more. The Yanks averaged 32 games above .500 when Moose played with them, but when he played with the Orioles, they averaged 3 games above .500. When you look at his post-season numbers, it’s more clear why Mussina is not a Hall of Famer. He can’t win when it counts, the post-season. He’s two games over .500 in the post season and faired the same no matter which team he played for.

    He played in an era where 250 wins weren’t as important a milestone as 300 wins were. He played in an era where performance enhancers ran rampant. I have been saying for a long while that players need to prove they were clean since most are hiding behind the MLBPA and not speaking up about what went on. Especially when you play on teams that had so many PROVEN users, it’s not hard to speculate that Mussina could have pitched 200 innings per year due to a little “boost.”

    When Mussina left the Orioles they sucked bad, but before that they were a decent team. He never had Ace numbers and had an excellent closing staff at New York. This one, to me, is a no brainer, and I live in Williamsport, PA.

  8. Nick,

    Your feedback is welcome…however…

    Greg Maddux never won an MVP, threw a no-hitter or perfect game either. No reasonably intelligent baseball fan thinks those are criteria for induction. As for the World Series rings, the phrase to remember is “You can’t penalize a player for the quality of his teammates”. It’s not Mussina’s fault the Orioles didn’t score for him in the 1997 ALCS. Or that after he gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the 2003 World Series everyone else lost.

    By your logic, Dwight Gooden is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He won a Cy Young, two World Series, and threw a no-hitter.

    Additionally, if you’ve watched baseball in the 90’s you’re aware that complete games are rarities, unless you’re Roy Halladay. If you had Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, you’d use him too.

    His postseason W-L record is not great, but you’re using a relatively small sample size. Regular season numbers are what people are based on. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be able to even discuss guys like Ernie Banks. (Or Ted Williams, who flamed out in his own WS appearance)

    Your comment on performance enhancers is off-base and out of line. Please go back and re-learn the concept of justice in this country. While we are as disappointed as you that athletes are being busted for using, the answer is not to assume everyone is using until proven otherwise. I mean, prove to me you’re not doing something illegal right now. We’ve know your IP address and hometown, and if we wanted, could call authorities on you. Why? Well, hey, with all the crime in this country, how can I be sure you’re not a criminal? See how illogical that is?

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