Five favorite Felix facts
November, 19, 2010
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
I never get tired of explaining to people why Felix Hernandez was the right choice for the AL Cy Young Award. So here come five of my favorite Felix tidbits:
1. It's not enough to say that King Felix got crummy run support. He got historically crummy run support. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he had A) the worst run support of any pitcher in baseball, B) the worst run support of any pitcher in this millennium and C) the worst run support by an AL pitcher with an ERA under 2.50 since Jon Matlack in 1978. Now that's crumminess!
2. I keep hearing the skeptics say the guy should have found ways to win more than 13 games. Uh, how exactly? In seven of his last 14 starts, he left in the seventh inning or later in games his team scored zero runs for him. So how exactly was he supposed to find a way to win those games? I guess the argument is, he should have stayed out there longer. But guess what? He faced more hitters (1,001) than any pitcher in the big leagues. Was he supposed to stay out there until he faced 2,000?
3. Then there's that other fun argument: Yeah, but King Felix didn't have to face the Yankees and Red Sox all the time like David Price did. True. But in the four starts in which he did face the Yankees and Red Sox, do you know what his ERA was? How about 0.54. Price's ERA in seven starts against New York and Boston was 3.61.
4. But, as one of my Twitter buddies pointed out, the world is indeed larger than the Yankees and Red Sox. Good point. So here's more: In 22 starts against teams with winning records, Hernandez had a 2.26 ERA. Price's ERA in 21 starts against teams that were .500 or better: 2.67. CC Sabathia's: 3.32.
5. Finally, I don't think it's dawned on people how great this guy was. Among Hernandez's many, many great feats, this one jumped off the screen at me: He ripped off 30 quality starts. No AL pitcher had thrown that many quality starts in a season in 21 years -- since Bret Saberhagen also racked up 30 in 1989. Know the last AL pitcher with more quality starts? That was Catfish Hunter, in 1974 (with 31). That was so long ago, King Felix was 12 years away from making his debut on Planet Earth.
So years like this don't come along too often, friends. And when they do, the least we can do to celebrate them is give the guy responsible the Cy Young Award. Don't you think?