Baseball


The season is now complete (except for the playoff in the AL Central between the Twins and Tigers). So here are the final AL Cy Young rankings based on the admittedly unscientific and ad hoc formula explained here. The intent was to consider the types of factors that real-life baseball writers would consider, so there are no advanced xfip-type stats here. These are not who I think is the best, but who I think is most likely to win.

That being said, my gut says the final rankings are wrong. Zack Greinke was clearly the best pitcher in baseball this year, yet his lack of wins pushes him down to 3rd in these rankings. Some voting writers have been quoted saying that not having enough wins may cost Greinke the award, but we’ll have to wait and see. The predicted winner, by the way, did not appear atop these rankings until this final post after an outstanding finish to the season. The final rankings:

  1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 156 points
  2. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 150 points
  3. Zack Greinke, Royals 146 points
  4. Justin Verlander, Tigers 137 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 128 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 73 points
  7. Jon Lester, Red Sox 66 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 54 points
  9. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 40 points
  10. Kevin Millwood, Rangers 31 points

Perhaps this is not Greinke’s quite yet? Roy Halladay threw another complete game shutout last night, his 3rd of the year. That ties him with Greinke atop the AL. It was also Halladay’s 8th complete game of the year, putting him 2 ahead of Greinke for first in the league. His ERA dropped below 3 (now 2.90), ranking him third. And it was his 16th win, one more than Greinke.

I know most of the more sophisticated stats still put Greinke ahead, but in the minds of the relative simpletons in the media who vote for the Cy Young, Halladay is now on par or ahead of Greinke in many of the key stats. Not to mention the infuriating American tendency to consider irrelevant facts like career achievement in voting for one-year awards (how else to explain Martin Scorsese finally winning his Oscar), which also favours Halladay over Greinke, and I can see Roy winning another one.

Felix Hernandez has also been sensational lately and ranks ahead of Halladay in wins, strikeouts and ERA, but combine his youth and his West Coast address and I don’t see him realistically finishing higher than 3rd.

So the final week still shapes up to be very very interesting. CC Sabathia, by the way, still has a shot at 20 wins, which likely weighs heavily in some of the decrepit voters’ minds. The standings through Sept. 25:

  1. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 153 points
  2. Zack Greinke, Royals 151 points
  3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 149 points
  4. CC Sabathia, Yankees 128 points
  5. Justin Verlander, Tigers 128 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 80 points
  7. Jon Lester, Red Sox 54 points
  8. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 52 points
  9. Jered Weaver, Angels 48 points
  10. Scott Feldman, Rangers 40 points

As mentioned numerous times before, I’ve believed for the last several weeks that the AL Cy Young will go to Zack Greinke. The only way it wouldn’t would be if he failed to win any games in September and someone else (Halladay, Verlander or Hernandez) had an absolutely dominant month with 4-5 wins, a shutout or two, huge strikeout totals, etc. Neither of these things has happpened as Greinke has continued to pitch very well and has won semi-regularly despite pitching for arguably the worst offense in baseball.

The updated AL Cy Young standings, thru Sept. 17:

  1. Zack Greinke, Royals 155 points
  2. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 146 points
  3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 136 points
  4. Feliz Hernandez, Mariners 132 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 120 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 75 points
  7. Jon Lester, Red Sox 73 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 55 points
  9. Scott Feldman, Rangers 52 points
  10. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 41 points

Josh Beckett picked up a cheapie complete game last night in a rain-shortened 5-inning game. Also in the last few days Zack Greinke had another strong outing, surrendering a single earned run in 7 innings. Other than that, it’s been a quiet few days. Through Sept. 12:

  1. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 146 points
  2. Zack Greinke, Royals 143 points
  3. Justin Verlander, Tigers 136 points
  4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 122 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 122 points
  6. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 78 points
  7. Scott Feldman, Rangers 71 points
  8. Jered Weaver, Angels 61 points
  9. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 54 points
  10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 49 points

Several contenders were in action on Wednesday night, September 9. Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays threw his 7th complete game of the season, taking over the AL lead from Zack Greinke, but he lost 4-1 to the Twins. All four runs were earned, pushing his ERA from 2.98 up to 3.03. Although not a factor in my formula, there may be a psychological impact on voters if an ERA is below 3.00. The 9 innings also push Halladay ahead of CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez into the AL lead in innings pitched with 208 (although that will change when CC and Felix next take the hill this weekend).

Justin Verlander was the other top contender in action. He also lost, this time to the putrid Royals, but only surrendered 1 earned run in 6 innings and racked up 8 strikeouts to pad his league-leading strikeout total. It was not the most efficient performance though as Verlander’s pitch count was 112 in only 6 innings, which explains why he was pulled after 6 innings only trailing 1-0.

Two more of the minor contenders were also in action. Jered Weaver of the Angels posted his 15th win by beating the Mariners, while Scott Feldman of the Rangers posted his 16th win, tying Sabathia and Verlander for the league lead (in fact, Feldman only has 4 losses so he gets the nod ahead of Sabathia’s 7 losses and Verlander’s 8 losses).

At this point in the season only the top 5 contenders have any reasonable shot. Actually, it might be a good idea to cut these lists down to the top 5 over the final weeks of the season. The standings through Sept 9:

  1. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays 146 points
  2. Justin Verlander, Tigers 140 points
  3. Zack Greinke, Royals 139 points
  4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 130 points
  5. CC Sabathia, Yankees 124 points
  6. Scott Feldman, Rangers 71 points
  7. Jered Weaver, Angels 69 points
  8. Josh Beckett, Red Sox 62 points
  9. Edwin Jackson, Tigers 49 points
  10. Jon Lester, Red Sox 49 points

I must admit this is the first time since I started these rankings several weeks ago that I think they’re off. I believe Zack Greinke is still the clear favourite and the only way he won’t win is if he fails to win another game the rest of the season (which is certainly possible given the horrific Royals offense supporting him) and someone else (probably Halladay or Verlander) is dominant in their final few starts.

I should also clarify these rankings are not meant as an objective measurement of performance, but rather as a tool to predict how the baseball writers will vote. I’m well aware there are far better statistics to measure pitching performance and that common metrics like wins are actually not very informative. But I’m trying to get into the mind of the baseball writer, where wins are still clearly a factor.

Time for another update. In the last few days both Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez have pitched great games without picking up the win (which has been the story of their seasons, especially Greinke). Verlander and Halladay both go tonight so I’ll update the rankings tomorrow after their efforts.

Thru Sept 8:

  1. Zack Greinke 143 points
  2. Justin Verlander 140 points
  3. Felix Hernandez 137 points
  4. Roy Halladay 135 points
  5. CC Sabathia 125 points
  6. Josh Beckett 63.5 points
  7. Jered Weaver 56 points
  8. Scott Feldman 54 points
  9. Edwin Jackson 52 points
  10. Jon Lester 44 points

Thought it might be fun to apply the same formula I’ve been using for the AL Cy Young race the last few weeks to the NL race, even though I don’t pay much attention to minor league ball. Again, this applies only to starters. You can see the full explanation here.

Turns out the NL race is not nearly as competitive as I thought. Tim Lincecum looks like a runaway winner for the 2nd year in a row. Adam Wainwright’s 17 wins are impressive, and Chris Carpenter’s league-leading ERA and gaudy record also look good, but they both trail Lincecum in strikeouts, complete games and shutouts. Here are the NL standings thru Sept 4:

  1. Tim Lincecum, Giants 165 points
  2. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 138 points
  3. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals 115 points
  4. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks 106 points
  5. Matt Cain, Giants 93 points
  6. J.A. Happ, Phillies 61 points
  7. Joel Pineiro, Cardinals 59 points
  8. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros 45 points
  9. Jason Marquis, Rockies 44 points
  10. Bronson Arroyo, Reds 32.5 points

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