First off, congratulations to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen and the Oakland Athletics’ Andrew Bailey for winning the BBA’s inaugural NL and AL Rookie of the Year awards respectively. I would not be surprised if it ended that way in real life either, though I think a certain Oakland A’s teammate (cough…Brett Anderson…cough) was more deserving.
Due to a lack of time on my part and a bit of unfortunate health (i.e. I’m sick and a bit busy), I’m going to make my ballot for the National League Cy Young quick and easy. It isn’t as if I didn’t already have a choice in mind, but to determine the winner I’ll be using FanGraphs’ Pitcher Value page, with WAR as the determinant. I know, it sounds cheap, but it’s basically what I’ve been doing anyway. More consideration will be given if players are within five runs of each other, but as I already figured, no one was even close to the winner. Here’s your top three.
3. Dan Haren, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Haren accumulated 6.1 WAR over the course of the year mainly on the back of longevity; among the main Cy Young candidates, Haren actually held the worst FIP among them, though he made up for it by pitching the most innings. Still, a 3.23 FIP is nothing to laugh at, and Haren pulled it off while pitching 229 innings, second in the NL only to Adam Wainright. Haren struck out 24.5% of batters faced while unintentionally walking only 3.9% of them, the lowest percentage among qualifying starters in the league.
2. Javier Vazquez, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Vazquez in the past has always been considered underrated by the sabermetric community and overrated by the baseball insiders, but this season, moving back to the NL for the first time since his brief stint in Arizona, Vazquez was dominant. Among qualifying players, Vazquez was second in the NL in FIP with a 2.77 mark, barely edging out Chris Carpenter, though he didn’t come close to approaching No. 1. Vazquez did his work in a similar fashion as Haren, striking out an impressive 27.2% of his batters faced while issuing unintentional walks only 4.8% of the time. Combine that with a decrease in fly balls leading to a slight decrease in home runs and you have the recipe for a career year for the pitcher formerly hailed by Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as “not a big-game pitcher.” Vazquez was a winner this year, to the tune of 6.6 WAR according to FanGraphs.
1. Tim Lincecum, RHP, San Francisco Giants
It wasn’t even close. Lincecum topped the list with a whopping 8.2 WAR and definitely has a case as the most dominating pitcher in all of baseball this season. The lanky right hander notched an amazing 261 strikeouts this season, topping the league among starters with a strikeout rate of 28.8%. Lincecum also continued to improve his walk rate, dropping it down to 6.8% fro, 7.1% last season. With improving control, a through-the-roof strikeout rate, and a low home-run total, Lincecum posted a 2.34 FIP that was only a hair higher than Zack Greinke’s 2.33 FIP. With the two posting similarly low home run rates as well, one would say that they would be dead even for best pitcher were it not for the fact that Greinke plays in the American League and has DH’s to face as well. Still, this takes nothing away from Lincecum, who should collect is second straight Cy Young award on his way to becoming the richest first-year arbitration eligible player ever this offseason.
Congrats to Tim Lincecum, the Marlin Maniac’s choice for National League Cy Young Award winner!
Honorable mentions go to Adam Wainright and Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals, Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies, and Josh Johnson of our very own Florida Marlins!
And it’s worth mentioning that, should the BBWAA miraculously agree with the ballots that I’m sure our group will turn in, it would be the rarest of occasions that a 15-game and 16-game winner win the Cy Youngs for their respective leagues. This would be a huge step forward for awards and analysis for us to stop using wins as a determinant for how well a pitcher pitched. Please, please stop using wins. Everyone. I’m serious.