Why I voted for Felix Hernandez
* I believe a pitcher's win-loss record is also a function of the team. Hernandez was just 13-12. That's clearly not a normal Cy Young record. But Seattle's lineup was awful this season and Hernandez got little run support. He allowed two or fewer runs in 12 starts that he did not win (David Price had five of those starts, CC Sabathia three). Think about that.
* By the numbers, Hernandez was a clear leader. He led the AL in ERA (2.27), innings pitched (249 2/3) and quality starts (30). He was just one strikeout behind Jered Weaver, who finished fifth in the voting. Hernandez dominated the peripheral stats as well, staying among the league leaders in WHIP (1.06) and in the fangraphs version of WAR (he was third). He had six complete games, one behind Cliff Lee. Opposing batters hit just .212 against him, better than anyone else who appeared on a Cy Young ballot (C.J. Wilson was second, BTW, at .217).
* But more than the sheer numbers was the fact that Hernandez had to be nearly perfect each time out in order to get a win. His team gave him 2.4 runs of support per start. The Mariners scored two runs or fewer in 15 of his 34 starts (44 percent) and he was 2-10 with a 2.84 ERA in those outings. He had nine no-decisions and sported a 1.92 ERA. That's just too good to ignore.
* Yes, I did take into account the idea that Hernandez didn't pitch in the pressure of a pennant race like Price and Sabathia did down the stretch. But I also can argue that there's no greater pressure than knowing you've got to be just about perfect every time out if your team is to win a game.
* I was also careful not to let what I saw Hernandez do against the Rangers impact me too much when it came time to vote. He was 2-3 with a 4.28 ERA in six starts against Texas, the top team in the AL West. But in his six starts against other playoff teams, Hernandez was 5-1 with a 1.08 ERA.
In the end, the AL Cy Young goes to the best pitcher in the league. And I believe that's Hernandez, regardless of the 13-12 record. In case you're curious, here was my entire ballot:
1. Felix Hernandez
2. CC Sabathia
3. David Price
4. Jered Weaver
5. Jon Lester
(It was tough to decide between Nos. 2 and 3, but I'm a believer in durability and Sabathia pitched 29 more innings than Price and was close on most of the other numbers. So that was one of several factors there. And I think Weaver is underrated). Interestingly, those five pitchers were all in the top-5 of the balloting released on Thursday, though not in the order that I had them.
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