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.
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:
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.