Posted tagged ‘Cliff Lee’

Handicapping the Awards – NL Cy Young Edition

July 9, 2011

Last week I put up my field for the AL Cy Young award, so it’s time for my take on the senior circuit race.

The favorite

Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (4.8 WAR)

Not only has Doc Halladay been the best pitch in baseball, he is arguably the MVP of the NL. Right now his 4.8 WAR blows away the field, But so does his league leading BB/9 (1.12), FIP (2.21) and xFIP (2.42). Halladay also is posting the highest K rate of his career, at 8.65, the first time it’s ever been north of 8.0. With six complete games already, Halladay is also looking to best his career highs in CG, IP, and WAR. I’ll put the odds in his favor.

Best of the rest

Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers (3.9 WAR)

Clayton Kershaw is a beast. That’s all there is to  it. The dood has a 10.13 K/9 which is just insane and blows away other NL pitchers. But Kershaw has always had fantastic K rates. What’s made this such a special season for him is the lowered BB rate. It’s under 3.0 for the first time at 2.41 BB/9. Kershaw is going to top his best seasons of K/9, BB/9, and WAR. If not for Halladay, he’d be bringing home some hardware come November.

Cole Hamels – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (3.9 WAR)

Many figured Cole Hamels would be the fourth best SP of the Four Aces in Philly, but Hamels has emerged as being just as deserving of the spotlight as the other aces. In just half a season, Hamels has already accumulated the second best WAR total in a single season. Right now it’s at 3.9, with his career high being 4.4 in 2008. The key to his success has been an increase in ground balls, which has resulted in far few home runs allowed. In every season until now, his HR/9 has been 1.0+. Currently it sits at 0.51. If this change is for real, Hamels will be a Cy Young contender for a LONG TIME.

Cliff Lee – SP – Philadelphia Phillies (3.5 WAR)

Not to be outdone by teammates Doc Halladay and Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee has established himself (again) as a candidate for a Cy Young award. His control has been pinpoint once again, he has a career high 8.91 K/9, and sub-3.00 ERA, FIP, and xFIP. The man has become a model of consistency. And the thing is- he could pitch even better and even challenge Halladay for the crown.

Don’t count them out

Tim Lincecum – SP – San Francisco Giants (3.2 WAR)

Timmy started out the season red hot and his since cooled off. But even during slumps Timmy remains one of the best arms in the game. He has a 2.70 FIP and 2.87 xFIP, meaning he is still just one of six NL starters to have their FIP and xFIP both below 3.00. Once he gets back in the groove, he can easily rise to the top of the field of contenders chasing Halladay.

Dan Hudson – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks (3.2 WAR)

Daniel Hudson is a great young pitcher and should be a reliable arm in the desert for a long time. My only concern with him is the long ball. Sure, between this season and last season in Arizona, a hitters ballpark, he hasn’t allowed many homers. But he IS a fly ball heavy pitcher and I don’t know if he will be able to limit home runs. If he can, he’ll stay in the race through September.

Honorable mentions

Madison Bumgarner – SP – San Francisco Giants (3.1 WAR)

He is too far behind Halladay, but I want to highlight him. He was my favorite prospect in the minors when he was in development because of how young he was, but also because his dominance was all the more awesome considering the age. He will win a Cy Young or two in the future. Boy, the NL has a lot of young, lefty aces- Kershaw, Hamels, Bumgarner.

Jordan Zimmerman – SP – Washington Nationals (3.0)

Who thought the most valuable National this season would be Jordan? He may not have gaudy K numbers, but he doesn’t walk anybody (1.74 BB/9). Nationals have a real bright future ahead of them…

Stayed tuned for when I handicap the AL and NL MVP races.

Yankees and Freddy Garcia agree

February 1, 2011

I like it.

It’s a minor league deal, so if he stinks in ST he won’t make the team. If he is pitching well, he can be a servicable 5th starter for $1.5-$2mil depending on his incentives. His incentives can climb to $5mil, which would probably be a good thing if that happens since it will mean he had a real good season and thus would be underpaid at $5mil.

He has put up slightly better than 1 fWAR seasons in limited innings the past two seasons, so any similar performance will be solid from the 5th spot in the rotation. Especially considering our #5 starters last year had about a 0 WAR and it’s been that way for pretty much the past decade.

Patience is a virtue, stoopid Yankee fans. Cashman may not have won the Porsche (Cliff Lee) but he’s doing a good job waiting and potentially finding the diamond in the rough.


And side note- Freddy Garcia’s career has been REALLY underrated. He has a career 31.5 fWAR in 1929 innings (3.3 WAR/200 IP) and from 1999-2006 was really good.


Cliff Lee is a Philadelphia Phillie

December 14, 2010

WOW. This might be the biggest off-season news story in baseball history. For real.


5 years and $100mil. $20mil per year. Yeah.


Not only is this out of left field, but it’s a STEAL for Philadelphia.


If you recall, I thought he could be worth as much as $147.5mil over five years or around $29mil per season. So Philly is saving ~$9mil per year in projected value or $47.5mil total. This is groundbreaking.

Does this give Philly the best rotation of all-time? Maybe, maybe not. The 1990s Braves had an okay staff. But we’re looking at three Hall of Fame pitchers, still pitching as if in their prime, and a fourth pitcher who could be a Hall of Famer one day. Simply amazing.

I thought Boston was going to be clear World Series favorites, but if Philly doesn’t win it all, they should all have to retire. But for real, I will myself when Boston and Philly play in the World Series.

The thing is, it’s such a good deal. If he signed in Philly for 7/$161mil or whatever deal the Yanks offered, it wouldn’t be so great. But it’s 5/$100mil. That is well below his market value. Wow.

Cliff Lee needs to enter the Witness Protection Program. He is the most hated person in the MLBPU. They  might hire people to do bodily harm to Lee.


As for the Yanks, sell sell sell on 2011. Stock up for 2012 and beyond when the Killer B’s and other top prospects are ready. Trade Nick Swisher while his value is high. 2011 is a lost cause.

We better get Russell Martin so this off-season isn’t a total lost cause. He could regain his past power and become an All-Star again. If not, he is the perfect person to split time with Jesus Montero and since we won’t compete in 2011, it allows us to take it slow with Montero.

Worst off-season ever.

Jayson Werth is a Washington National

December 5, 2010

In what has to be the most surprising news of the off-season, the Washington Nationals have signed Jayson Werth to a 7/$126mil contract. WOW.

This is totally out of nowhere. I really thought Werth would be headed to Detroit, Boston, or stay in Philly. If you recall, I had Werth worth about $99mil over five years. When I project it out further, I think he’ll be worth about $121mil over seven years. So the Nationals are overpaying a little bit. But not by much.

For Washington, I love the move, but hate the contract details. They are relatively close to contending so I like that they are trying to make a splash and bring in a quality player. It keeps the fans happy and makes the current team better as they wait for Strasburg to get healthy and Bryce Harper to develop. BUT, seven years is a long time. By the time the Nationals young talent is ready to aim for a playoff spot, Werth figures to be done as a high impact player. Once those days are over, he will be vastly overpaid for his talent and the contract will handcuff the franchise.

So I give the contract a C+ for the team. They do get better and bring excitement back to the ball club, but by binding themselves to Werth for so long, it could hinder their ability to make moves in the future, which is when they are going to want to make moves as their young talent will be ready for lift-off.Moreover, this seemingly takes them out of the running for Cliff Lee so it appears that FA battle will be a showdown between the Yankees and Rangers.

As for Werth…I’m surprised. I would have thought he would want to go to a team where he could win the World Series. Boston, Philly, or even Los Angeles and San Francisco. But money speaks and more importantly, I take it he likes the security of seven years. But where is the loyalty these days? Juan Uribe went to Los Angeles just weeks after winning in San Fran and now a Phillies favorite is going to a divisional foe. I remember the story of Jackie Robinson retiring because he was traded to the Giants from the Dodgers. Nowadays, players would welcome the trade with open arms.


My quick take on what the Royals should do with Zack Greinke

December 2, 2010

Keep him.

Yes, I know trading him now would bring back the ultimate return. The other team would be trading for two years of his services, upping his value since he is not just a rental. Moreover, after Cliff Lee there are no good starters on the market, so a team might overpay in a trade for Greinke. Despite all that, I would not trade Zack Greinke.

Why? Because he is amazing. And the team will be good soon enough.

Sure, Greinke wants to WIN. But the Royals have a LOADED farm system. From Eric Hosmer to Danny Duffy, the Royals only need a handful of their farm system stars to pan out. In a division like the AL Central, a talented, young team could go far. Having Greinke just makes the team even better and will bring about the success at a faster rate. Will it be tough to convince him? Maybe. The Royals have tried rebuilding before and it did not work out. But their current crop of talent is too good to completely bust. If Greinke can just wait another season or two, Kansas City could be the winning team he wants to play for. His deal runs out in 2012, but KC does have the money to extend him.

The only way I trade Greinke is if I get an absolute HAUL in return. I’m talking Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances from the Yankees. Scheppers, Perez, and Holland from Texas. Hicks and Gibson from the Twins. In that case, the return is TOO good to not give him up, and the farm system will become- like- the greatest of all-time.

Well, that’s my quick take so take it for what it’s worth.

If I’m Texas, maybe even New York as well, I go after Lee AND Greinke. Imagine a Texas rotation next season with Lee, Greinke, Wilson, Lewis, Feliz/Hunter?

To walk Edgar Renteria or not to walk Edgar Renteria?

November 3, 2010


Today the media has been going crazy debating whether Cliff Lee should have walked Edgar Renteria to face Aaron Rowand. At first I was going crazy as well. To me it should not have even been a question- PITCH TO EDGAR RENTERIA! I mean, it’s Cliff Lee v. Edgar freakin’ Renteria!

2nd_3rd 0 0.144 0.249 0.307 0.147 0.079 0.074
2nd_3rd 1 0.305 0.285 0.218 0.101 0.053 0.038
2nd_3rd 2 0.724 0.054 0.141 0.049 0.021 0.011
Loaded 0 0.128 0.255 0.211 0.143 0.134 0.13
Loaded 1 0.33 0.252 0.151 0.106 0.093 0.068
Loaded 2 0.675 0.092 0.105 0.055 0.048 0.025

That is the Run Expectancy table for bases loaded situations and 2nd and 3rd situations. The run values start at 0 on the left and incrementally go up by 1 as you move to the right.

So when Renteria came to the plate, there were men on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. If you pitch to him the chances of getting out of the inning scoreless is 72.4%. The chance of allowing 1 run is 5.4%, the chance of allowing 2 runs is 14.1%, and the chance of allowing 3 runs is 4.9%.

If you walk him to load the bases, the chance of allowing 0 runs is 67.5%, the chance of allowing of 1 run is 9.2%, the chance of allowing 2 runs is 10.5%, and the chance of allowing 3 runs is 5.5%.

The obvious move appears to be pitching to Renteria. The percentage chance of getting out of the inning clean is 4.9 higher, while the odds of giving up runs is higher when you do walk him.

HOWEVER, there are some other factors we need to take into account.

Edgar Renteria is a below average hitter. In order from 2008, his wRC+ has been 86, 69, and 95 over 1324 PA. However, he has and still can mash lefties. For his career, in 1353 PA, Renteria has a .404 OBP, .503 SLG, and 143 wRC+ against lefties. In 3793 PA against righties, he has a wRC+ of 93. That’s a sizable difference. Now I’m not going to run a platoon split regression whatever, but I’d imagine that the results would tell us Edgar’s true talent against lefties is well above average.

The batter behind Aaron Edgar Renteria is Aaron Rowand. He too has sucked the past three years, with wRC+, starting in 2008, of 97, 96, and 77 over 1514 PA. Unlike Renteria, he has no noticeable skill against lefties. In 1268 PA against lefties he has a wRC+ of 117, compared to 102 in 3050 PA against righties. So his true skill is just average against both lefties and righties, although its probably even lower than that as of today because he has not been a good hitter for a while now.

So it’s established that the hitter behind Renteria is an inferior pitcher against lefties, which Cliff Lee. Now it’s also important to remember that the more times through a lineup a pitcher goes, the higher his wOBA Against will be. When Lee faced Renteria, it was his third time through the lineup. Even an elite pitcher like Lee pitches like a league average pitcher the third or fourth time through a lineup.

In essence, at that particular moment in the game, the match-up was a slightly above pitcher versus an above average hitter. However, had Renteria been walked the match-up would have become a slightly above pitcher versus a below average hitter in Rowand.

So although the Run Expectancy table says not to walk Renteria, in this specific case, considering other factors, the smart move was to walk Renteria. “The Book” also does say that if you walk someone before the ninth, the best time to do it is with 2nd and 3rd in a tie game, as the lead runner won’t be advancing and you’re not putting the winning run on base, since they already are on base. Moreover, one of the biggest aspects of walking a better is the relative performance of the on-deck hitters. Well, we already discussed how Renteria, in that situation, has a much better skill or talent level than Rowand, so there is a talent and wOBA disparity in that match-up.

The Rangers should have walked Edgar Renteria to face Aaron Rowand. However, the whole thing could have been avoided had Texas simply brought in a fresh, righty arm from the pen.

Valuing the 2011 free agent class: Cliff Lee

November 2, 2010

During the summer I tried making this a series, but the only player I covered was Victor Martinez. Oh well, there’s still plenty of time to do this, so I’ll get the ball moving along with Cliff Lee.

Obviously, Cliff Lee is the biggest name on the market. He will be the most sought after pitcher this off-season, although as of today it seems like he has only two bidders: the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. So lets get into the dirty work.

Despite missing all of April with an injury, Cliff Lee still threw 212 innings en route to a 7.0 WAR season, arguably his best season as a professional. Lee posted his best K/9, BB/9, FIP, and xFIP since becoming one of the game’s premiere pitchers in 2008. In fact, Lee’s BB/9 was an epic 0.76. Yeah.

He will be 32 for most of next season and most people think he’ll sign about a five year deal. In 2008 he was worth $32.4mil according to WAR, $29.6mil in 2009, and $28mil this past year. So he should be looking at nine figures easy.

Cliff Lee has been about 7 WAR per season for the past three seasons, so I will start him out at 7 WAR with $4mil per win. From 2011 on he will decrease by 0.5 in WAR and the $4mil per win will increase by $.5mil increments each season. So in 2012 he will be worth 6.5 WAR at $4.5mil per win and so on.

So according to the table, to the average team Cliff will be worth $147.5mil over five years, or $29.5mil per year. By far that would make him the richest pitcher in baseball. Granted, my WAR estimates might be a tad high, but Cliff Lee profiles as a guy who can age well. He relies on stuff and location, not speed and power. He is a smart pitcher and hasn’t logged too many innings in his career yet.

Considering the teams in the running, it’ll come down to how much they value Cliff Lee themselves. If Texas doesn’t think Lee is worth nearly $150mil, they should let him pass to New York. And the same goes for the Yankees. If you had to ask me, I’d say the Yankees sign him for around $150mil. I just feel they value him more than the Rangers will, financially.

And if I were the Yankees, with the resources to sign Lee long-term, I would go for it. Granted in a few years they will have a ton of money tied up in old players, but I think Cliff Lee might be the only one of those old players who will earn his paycheck. As for the Rangers, not so much. Lee would be a great player, but for their franchise $150mil might be too high a price. They are a young team and that money could be allocated to pay for the costs of more players and younger players.

Either way, come December, let the bidding begin!

Lee v. Lincecum: Part 1

October 28, 2010

Since tonight is Game 1 of the World Series with an epic pitching match-up, I want to do a little live blogging. Just some thought updates every so often. I’m a little late, but oh well. I wonder how Lincecum will do on three days rest, after pitching in relief during game 6 of the NLCS on just one day of rest. Lee hasn’t thrown in over a week.

And Lee just hit a double! Lincecum hasn’t looked good so far. Also, what’s up with the crowd? I’ve long felt San Fran had one of the more, if not the most underrated fan bases in the game. But they are QUIET right now. C’mon, it’s the World Series!

Day baseball is so cool. Not saying I always like the atmosphere better than night games, but it’s a nice change of pace. Yes, the game started at 8 on the east coast, but it’s still day on the west coast. Cool to see a World Series game in the day for once.

2-0 Texas right now. That could be all they need with Lee on the mound.

Update 8:59: See New York, is it really that hard to score runs off Cliff Lee?

Game tied 2-2 now. Hopefully the back and forth continues. This may not be a pitchers duel, but it can still be a very exciting game.

Update 9:58: Wow, what an inning! I don’t even care that the pitching duel just exploded. That inning was awesome. Six runs on five hits. Now the fans are into the game. I’m going crazy in my dorm room and I don’t even have a rooting interest.

Update 11:07: LOL at Vladimir Guerrero right now. Just play Francouer or Murphy tomorrow. Vlad’s negative defensive value is going to outweigh his offensive contribution.

Update 11:49: What a very sloppy game. Six errors? This ended up not being a good game at all. Also, nice bullpen management in the ninth Bruce Bochy. A seven run lead and you used how many relievers? I’m speechless.

A look at the 2010 Cy Young races

September 22, 2010

With only a couple weeks left in the season, there are still some exciting races in baseball- the AL East division crown, the NL West division crown, and the NL Wild Card. But playoff races aren’t the only races heating up. Both the Cy Young and MVP awards in both leagues will be going down to the wire. So I thought I’d take a look at the Cy Young races today, since I really haven’t checked up on it since summer.

American League favorite

In my book, Francisco Liriano still is the favorite to win the award. As of today, the award is between him, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez. Honestly, you could pick one of their names out of a hat and I’d be cool with that person being the winner. But I like Liriano based on several things. First, there are three outcomes a pitcher has control of- strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Liriano is third in the league in K/9 at 9.38, and his K rate is better than that of King Felix and Cliff Lee. BB/9 is where Liriano “falters” as Hernandez and Lee have better marks (Lee has an ungodly 0.72 BB/9). But when it comes to homers allowed, Liriano blows the field away. He leads the league with a 0.25 HR/9. Talk about preventing runs. Liriano strikes guys out and doesn’t allow homers. You can cite Target Field, but Felix pitches in Safeco, and Lee pitched in Safeco for a couple months.

Delving further, Liriano has the best FIP, xFIP, and tERA in the AL. A clean sweep. The triple crown of DIPS. When I throw that into the fact of the three things a pitcher can control, Liriano is better than Lee and Felix at two of them, I have to give Liriano the award.

American League candidates

2) Cliff Lee- As I mentioned, I wouldn’t care if he won the award. His fWAR leads all pitchers in baseball at 6.5. He doesn’t walk anybody. He throws a lot of innings which is real valuable. If he hadn’t missed April, he very well could be the clear leading candidate.

3) Felix Hernandez- Again, I’d be cool if he won the award. He is in this spot because of an AMAZING second half. But when I did the dirty work, I just liked Liriano better, and then put Lee second partly because of IP. I know Felix has thrown more innings, but that’s because Lee missed a month and then some. On a per start basis, Lee eats up more innings.

4) Jon Lester- As the Red Sox fortunes took a turn for the worse, people seemed to tune Jon Lester out. But he’s been his amazing self, leading the AL in K/9 and racking a 5.6 fWAR.

5) Jered Weaver- He fell off a little bit, but he is second in the AL with a 9.40 K/9, and has a 5.6 fWAR. Not too shabby. He should get some votes.

Who will win

I think CC Sabathia will win. Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee could give him a serious run for his money. Unfortunately, that small streak of “poor” pitching by Lee a few weeks ago will be taken into consideration by the voters. Despite the W/L record, I believe Felix will get a ton of support, since he has been getting a good deal of attention lately by people trying to show that W/L is crap. Attention is always good for winning awards. But CC has 20 wins, pitches for the team with the best record, and has been good- if not Felix good. The worst part is that Carl Pavano will get more votes than Liriano.

National League favorite

Right now, its gotta be Roy Halladay. I was really hoping Josh Johnson would win the award, but his season ending injury has done him in. But he’s been so good that despite missing September, I still think he gives Halladay a run for his money. However, Doc is just a horse. He’s tossed 241 innings. He’s thrown eight complete games. He has three shutouts. He leads in the NL by far with a 1.12 BB/9. His K/9 is 7.10 which is the best mark of his career. His 6.4 fWAR leads the NL. He has a 3.07 FIP, leads the NL with a 2.95 xFIP, and has a 3.43 tERA. ‘Nuff said. He has been brilliant.

National League candidates

2) Josh Johnson- Until his injury, Johnson was almost literally unstoppable. His 2.43 FIP did lead the NL, and by a fair margin. He was third in xFIP at 3.17. His tERA is 2.78. Yeah. His 0.34 HR/9 led the NL and his 9.11 K/9 is better than the strongest candidates for the award. It’s a shame he got hurt, because the award was all his. I mean, Doc has tossed 241 innings and has a 6.4 fWAR. Johnson threw 183 innings and has a 6.2 WAR. Yeah.

3) Adam Wainwright- I don’t know how or why, but Wainwright gets overlooked a lot. But he has a 2.86 FIP, 3.15 xFIP, a 2.92 tERA, and logged an impressive 224 innings. His fWAR is 6.0 and he is a strong challenger to Doc for the Cy Young.

4) Ubaldo Jiminez- He may have had that fantastic come to a screeching halt sometime in June, but he has kept up the dominance. His fWAR is 5.9 and he continues to strike people out at a fantastic rate. Considering he pitches at Coors, it’s amazing his HR/9 is second in the league at 0.36 HR/9. It’s also amazing that considering his best pitch is the fastball, he can still succeed at Coors. I’ve mentioned before how the altitude lessens the movement of the fastball, which is key for Ubaldo along with his velocity. But he is a freak and should get some votes.

Who will win

Doc Halladay. He won twenty games. He has pitched well by average standards. The award is his. Ubaldo still might challenge him, but his campaign trail has been losing steam for sometime now.

Buster Olney breaks down the awards races

August 21, 2010

In a recent ESPN article, Buster Olney handicapped the AL/NL MVP and Cy Young races. The piece was interesting enough to draw my attention. I will go through each piece of the article to share my thoughts.

There are six weeks of baseball remaining, a quarter of a season, in which a lot can change. In 2004, Vladimir Guerrero mashed his way to the American League MVP Award by hitting .363 in September and hoisting the Angels onto his back: He generated 11 homers and 25 RBIs in that late push.

There is a lot more baseball to play in 2010. But as of today, here’s how we’d handicap the races for the two major awards in each league.


1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. He leads the majors in OPS and RBIs and is tied for second in the AL in homers, all the while playing half his games in a pitchers’ park.

So far I have no complaints. While I believe Josh Hamilton is the MVP, I wouldn’t complain if Miguel Cabrera won the award. I know and you know OPS and RBI are junk stats, but in this case Olney is still picking a solid candidate to win the award.

2. Josh Hamilton, Rangers. He’s hitting .375 since the All-Star break, and .396 overall in home games.

No problems here. Although, saying he has hit .396 at home hurts his argument that Hamilton has been really good. Considering his BA is in the .350 range, it shows his home park has inflated his BA. Considering Olney takes a players home park into consideration- he did so with Cabrera- then Olney did not make a convincing case for Hamilton. My argument wouldn’t hinge on a stat like BA at all.

3. Robinson Cano, Yankees. The most important player in this lineup in 2010, and he has been excellent defensively.

That’s fine.

Others in the conversation: Delmon Young, Twins; Adrian Beltre, Boston; Evan Longoria, Rays; Paul Konerko, White Sox. But to be clear, there is an enormous gap between the top two candidates and the rest of the field.

Really Olney? Really? Delmon Young is in the conversation? What conversation? Young has finally put together a solid year offensively , but his defense continues to suck. His 2.0 WAR is average. Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, and Denard Span are all Twins players with a better WAR. That’s 5/9 of the Twins starting lineup alone. Young is not in the MVP conversation.

Paul Konerko is not in the conversation either. He has been good, not great. The worst part is that while Konerko is mentioned, a player on a better team who has had a much better season is not mentioned at all- Carl Crawford. That is a poor oversight by Olney.


1. Joey Votto, Reds. His numbers are basically running neck-and-neck with those of Albert Pujols — and Votto’s team is in first place, which will count for something in the voting.


2. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres. Numbers do not fully reflect what he means to San Diego’s success, between his defense and what teammates perceive to be an extraordinarily unselfish approach

Stoopid, just stoopid. Olney thinks he is the second most valuable player in the league, when is “only” the fourth most valuable player- at all first base alone! He’s having a fine season, but it doesn’t compare to Albert Pujols or Votto. The entire pitching staff, defense, and lady luck are the MVP’s of San Diego because they are winning due to those three things. Even with A-Gonz, the Padres offense is anemic.

3. Pujols, Cardinals. He’s having another great season.

Good analysis!

Others in the conversation: Aubrey Huff, Giants; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; and the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, who will get a lot of top 10 votes. Again, there is a major gap between the top tier of candidates — Votto, Gonzalez and Pujols — and the rest of the field.

I will give kudos to Olney. He mentioned Zimmerman, a top three MVP candidate, which I was not expecting since he is on a last place team and gets a lot of value from defense. So I will excuse him for saying there is a gap between Zimmerman and Votto or Pujols, when Zimmerman might have the best case of the three.

AL Cy Young Award

1. Cliff Lee, Mariners/Rangers. His WHIP is a major league best 0.95.

Here’s one barometer of just how good Lee has been, from Daniel Braunstein of ESPN Stats & Information:

The lowest percentage of pitches thrown on 2-0, 3-0 or 3-1 counts:

Pct. K/BB
Cliff Lee 3.53 14.50
Roy Halladay 4.21 7.20
Ricky Nolasco 4.72 4.90
Scott Baker 4.92 3.90
Kevin Slowey 4.99 3.92
Phil Hughes 5.00 3.05
Carl Pavano 5.14 3.45
Josh Johnson 5.14 4.26
Roy Oswalt 5.20 3.36
Dan Haren 5.25 4.94
For the sake of comparison, the highest percentage of pitches thrown on 2-0, 3-0 or 3-1:

Pct. K/BB
Gio Gonzalez 9.93 1.81
Tim Lincecum 9.38 2.73
Wade LeBlanc 9.15 2.11
Derek Lowe 9.07 1.87
C.J. Wilson 8.81 1.80
Joe Saunders 8.66 1.62
Jaime Garcia 8.50 1.94
Brandon Morrow 8.44 2.55
Trevor Cahill 8.43 .95
CC Sabathia 8.37 2.34

Well, Olney took a weird route to his final answer, but at least he picked this one correctly. Lee is having his best season and arguably the best season since Pedro in 2000 (or Zack Greinke in 2009).

2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners. He’s been absolutely dominant in the second half, with a 1.93 ERA.

Felix has had a great second half, but he should not be second in this race. Francisco Liriano has been filthy this season, but Carl Pavano is getting all the attention in Minny. Who does Liriano need to jerk off to get some respect?

3. David Price, Rays. Fifth in ERA and tied for second in wins with 15

We know better than to use ERA and wins, but Olney doesn’t. So it’s hard to criticize him for this pick. But what about other great lefties instead of Price? Like, lets say, Jon Lester?

3a. Trevor Cahill, Athletics

No, just no. King Luck should not be considered. I like Cahill and he does a nice job garnering ground balls. But he relies on BABIP too much. He doesn’t strike many people out. So balls are put in play a ton against him. By getting ground balls he does a good job to help himself from giving up too many base runners via hits, but a .213 BABIP is absurd. That is not his talent level at all, which is why he should not be in the Cy Young running.

Others in the conversation: CC Sabathia, Yankees; Clay Buchholz, Red Sox; Jered Weaver, Angels.


NL Cy Young Award

1. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals. He has gotten better and better and better as the season has progressed.

No qualms here, although it should be Doc Halladay or Josh Johnson.

2. Tim Hudson, Braves. Having an incredible bounce-back season.

No. See Cahill, Trevor.

3. Roy Halladay, Phillies. He has a shot at 20 wins in his first season with the Phillies.

Open your eyes and look at the numbers, Buster. Halladay, a future HOF’er at this point in time, is having his best season. He should be 1 or 2 (if you like J-Johnson). Not three. Poor effort here.

Again, who does J-Johnson need to jerk off? 5.6 WAR, 2.27 ERA, 2.45 FIP, 3.16 xFIP. Yeah, nbd I guess.