Posted tagged ‘Cy Young’

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.

A-Rod, 600, and PED’s

July 29, 2010

As A-Rod continues his quest to home run number 600, it has come without much hoopla. While one would expect all major sports networks to follow his every PA, but only MLBN has done so. In fact, the story is not the home run, but rather the fact it has not received much attention. And why is that? Steroids.

Records are the most sacred aspect of baseball history and folklore. As kids growing up we learn about the Babe and 714 and Aaron and 756. We learned about Cy Young and 511 and Cal Ripken and 2632. Those numbers and records were pure and the essence of our love for the game. Once those records were ripped apart in what seemed like the blink of an eye, baseballs innocence was ruined to many. All those who contributed to the fall of the sacred baseball record books have became the target of fan disgust, and even hatred. So it’s no surprise no one cares about A-Rod and home run number 600. He cheated. That’s it, game over, you lose. He can hit all the homers he wants, but few will appreciate it. As the great Joe Posnanski writes:

But even to those who have come to grips with the Selig Era and the simple fact that all the numbers in the record books are distorted by one queasy fact or another, the 600 home run number STILL feels used up. It is like someone struggling to climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, reaching the peak and finding that people had already built a McDonald’s, a Home Depot and a Best Buy up there.

That statement is true. It sums up a feeling EVERY fan I have encountered has. And deservedly so.

But is the cold shoulder given to A-Rod and others like him fair?

The reason I ask is because there are all sorts of PED’s and some get a free pass while some do not. A big no-no is HGH. But most fans don’t understand HGH. It really doesn’t enhance performance. Rather, it helps players heal faster from injuries. The reason it’s a no-no is because it’s illegal. But if a player is ever caught using HGH, I wouldn’t care, and neither should you. The player probably took it to recover faster from an injury.

The next big one is anabolic steroids- mainly testosterone. If a player is caught using this, be upset. It’s meant to make you bigger and stronger. Does that make you better at baseball? No. But will it make you hit a ball farther or run faster or throw harder? Yeah, probably, because you get more out of your workout making you a better athlete.

Now, A-Rod tested positive for testosterone back in 2003. He said he used from 2001-2003, during his time as a Texas Ranger. Is he to be believed? That we may never know. By using the eye test, I believe he started using in 2001. He was a skinny dood on the Mariners. It wasn’t until he became a Rangers that his legs and body really grew. Additionally, his reasoning makes sense. A-Rod said he felt pressure after signing the highest contract in baseball history. We all know A-Rod had an identity crisis. So that reasoning fits in perfectly with his past mindset. In Seattle he played with other future HOF’ers in Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr, and Edgar Martinez. The spotlight was never on him. But then he signed the biggest contract in baseball, which put a target on his back. He was the face of a franchise. He was the star and it was all up to him. So yeah, I do buy the pressure explanation he gave. As for more evidence, look at his stats from his debut through 2003. From 2001-2003 he had his three best seasons in HR and ISO to that point. Is that conclusive evidence? No- but it’s a start. At the same time though, offense in general was up during that time frame and he didn’t even post wRC+ or wOBA that were better than seasons he had in Seattle before he used.

But when did he quit? I would assume after 2003 when he was caught. If it means anything, his first season as a Yankee saw a big decline in production from his 2001-2003 seasons. Was that him adjusting to life without performance enhancers for the first time in three years? Maybe, maybe not.

A writer in SI said that if you take away his steroid years, he’d have around 358 homers currently. That is wrong. Assuming he only used from 2001-2003, he would have 443 home runs. But let’s be real. If he didn’t use, I doubt he would have homered zero times in three seasons. We can’t say how much steroids helped him. He was playing in a hitters park during a high scoring run environment during his age 26-28 seasons. Chances are he still would have hit 40-60 home runs and thus, still would have been just a few homers away from 600 anyway. It’s not like he was Barry Bonds on the downswing of a career. A-Rod will still getting better. And I mean, he was on pace to be an all-time player before he took steroids.

So why do I bring all this up? Greenies.

Anabolic steroids are the worst offense when it comes to doping in baseball (as of now). A-Rod and other record breakers used anabolic steroids. They got bigger and their performance was enhanced- to a degree we can’t gauge. But greenies or amphetamines are a dandy little PED as well. The benefit of greenies are:

amphetamines may provide some minor, short-term benefits. Current research shows that 10-30 mg methamphetamine may improve reaction time, and cognitive function, increase the feelings of alertness, decrease a sense of fatigue and increase euphoria.

Hmmm, let’s see. There are 162 games in a season, with few off days, lots of travel, little sleep, and some day games after night games. Sometimes a player will lag and not feel up to playing at his best. But pop a greenie and boom, you feel alert and ready to play. Moreover, you have improved reaction time and focus, which will help when you’re trying to hit a 95 mph fastball. Sure, with greenies it’s all psychological. You don’t actually lose your fatigue- the drug just fools your mind. But it is a benefit and allows players to maybe make a play or get a big hit they wouldn’t have got otherwise.

Greenies aren’t quite as bad as steroids, but I’d say it’s pretty darn close. And guess what? Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of players used greenies. Bonds failed an amphetamines test. Hank Aaron lived on greenies. But people don’t understand the benefits of greenies, or underestimate them. The amphetamine problem has largely been ignored by the common fan. Yet if they fan took the time to realize the affect of greenies, then they would be as up in arms with them as they are with steroids. If that was the case, lots of players would be under scrutiny, not the select few like A-Rod who got caught with A-Rod.

No, I am not defending A-Rod. He used anabolic steroids, which is a big no-no. But if we are going to damn him for it, we need to damn people who used greenies as well (which is everyone). Hank Aaron? See ya!

It’s only fair.

Top 100 players of all-time: 40-31

December 31, 2009

40. Hank Greenberg

.412/.605/.453/56.9

Greenberg was a power hitter who led the American League in home runs three times and had a total of 331 homers. Greenberg won the MVP twice and made the All-Star game five times.

39. Jackie Robinson

.409/.474/.412/63.0
Robinson is one of the most well known players of all-time. He broke the color barrier in Major League baseball in 1947 while on the Brooklyn Dodgers.He was constantly taunted and threatened on and off the field due to his race. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1947 and the MVP award in 1949. He made six All-Star games.

38. Johnny Bench

.342/.476/.361/71.2

On my list Bench is the second best catcher of all-time. He was known for his defense, power, and clutch ability in the playoffs. Bench was apart of those great 1970 Reds teams. He won the Rookie of the year and two MVP awards. He was a ten time Gold Glove winner and made the All-Star game fourteen times.

37. Yogi Berra

.348/.482/.370/61.6

Berra is my number one catcher. He won three MVP awards and won ten World Series titles with the Yankees. No other player won that many in Major League Baseball history. He was one of the earlier power hitting catchers. He had 358 home runs. Berra made fifteen All-Star games. Also who doesn’t love a good Yogi-ism?

36. Gaylord Perry

1.18/73.3 %/3.06/96.3

Perry was known for his sinking fastball. He was also caught greasing the ball once in his twenty-two seasons, but said he did it his entire career. Perry was the first to win the Cy Young in both leagues. Perry was a five time All-Star.

35. Cy Young

1.13/64.1 %/2.82/146.0

Cy Young seemed to never have a sore arm. He pitched over 800 games and 7000 innings during a twenty three year career. He finished with more wins, innings pitched, games started, and complete games than any other pitcher. He will probably hold all those records to the end of time because the way pitchers are handled nowadays. In 1901 he won the Triple Crown.

34. Nap Lajoie

.380/.467/.399/104.2

Nap Lajoie was possibly the best player in MLB before the coming of Ty Cobb. He is one of the best hitters in history with over 3,200 hits. He won the 1901 Triple Crown for hitters.

33. Cap Anson

.393/.445/.389/99.2

For the early era Anson was a power hitter. Though he had only hit ninety seven total home runs. He led his league in RBI’s eight times and won two batting titles. Anson had 3418 hits in his twenty seven years as a player.

32. Sandy Koufax

1.11/77.4 %/2.69/54.5

From 1962-1966 he won 111 games and led the league in ERA- it was under 2.00 runs per game. He also led the NL in strikeouts, shutouts, and pitched four no-hitters. Along with a perfect game in 1965 he won three Cy Young’s, three Triple Crowns, and one MVP. Koufax made six All-Star games.

31. Bob Gibson

1.19/75.7 %/2.89/85.6

Some say he is the best big-game pitcher of all-time. Gibson almost won two World Series for the Cardinals by himself. In 1968, he enjoyed one of the most dominating seasons in baseball history, posting a 1.12 ERA and winning twenty-two games. He won nine Gold Gloves, two Cy Youngs, and one MVP. Gibson was an eight time All-Star.