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Wainwright's impressive case for Cy Young

9/24/2010

The season is obviously not yet over, but after Friday's start Adam Wainwright has 20 wins, 213 strikeouts and a 2.42 ERA. Over the last 20 seasons, there have been six other seasons in which a pitcher has compiled at least 20 wins and 200 K with an ERA under 2.50. Randy Johnson (x3), Pedro Martinez (x2) and Roger Clemens (x1) account for each of those six seasons. Four of those seasons resulted in a Cy Young Award and the other two were both runner-up finishes. One of those runner-ups can essentially be thrown out since that was merely Randy Johnson losing out to Roger Clemens in a season in which they both met the stated criteria.

20 WINS, 200 K, ERA UNDER 2.50

LAST 20 SEASONS

Adam Wainwright may not be playing on a team in playoff contention (like Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Hudson), but he is certainly in contention for the NL Cy Young Award. It should be noted that Roy Halladay (20 wins, 213 K, 2.53 ERA) is very close to joining Wainwright in reaching each of the standards. If Wainwright and Halladay each pull this off, it would be the first time in over 40 years that multiple NL pitchers did this. It last happened in 1969, when five NL pitchers did it (Larry Dierker, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver, and Bill Singer). Seaver won the NL Cy Young Award that season.

Another factor boding in Wainwright's favor is ESPN.com's Player Rater, which historically correlates very strongly with the final Cy Young order of finish. Not surprisingly (considering his statistics), it has Wainwright as the National League's top starter this season (followed closely by Halladay).

A couple of other quick notes on Wainwright:

He's the third pitcher in Cardinals history to post 20 wins and 200 strikeouts in a single season. Bob Gibson did it five times from 1965 to 1970 and Chris Carpenter did it in 2005.

Wainwright saved the clinching game of the 2006 World Series. The only other player in major league history to have a 20-win season and a save in a World Series-clinching game is Dennis Eckersley who won 20 games in 1978 with the Boston Red Sox and saved the World Series clincher in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics.