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The King of the American League

Jason Rosenberg on the Cy Young race that's probably already been won:

    And then there’s the case of King Felix. He is, quite simply, the best pitcher in the AL, if not all of MLB right now. Except he’s lacking one thing: wins. It’s entirely possible that he finishes the season with TEN fewer wins than Sabathia. And to me, that will be an impossible thing for the voters to ignore. The more sabermetrically-inclined group, like Law and Neyer and Kahrl, might be able to overlook a -10 wins difference, but I can’t see the MSM voters look past this. That’s simply too big a chasm to leap.

It is. Hernandez's only chance is a slim one: He'll have to win the rest of his starts while Sabathia's winning none of his. Slimmer than slim.

But the Cy Young Award is just a sideshow. An interesting sideshow, absolutely. A sideshow worth arguing about in November when there's not much news, for sure. But a sideshow none the less.

What's more interesting is performance, and value. And I think it's pretty hard to argue that Hernandez's performance over these past two seasons makes him the most valuable pitcher in the American League.

Over that span -- and among the 72 major league pitchers with at least 300 innings -- Hernandez ranks first in OPS+ and fourth in Wins Above Replacement. The three pitchers ahead of Hernandez in WAR are Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, and Zack Greinke. Hernandez has thrown significantly more innings than Johnson and Greinke, who are ever so slightly ahead in WAR. Johnson's done all his work in the National League, where Halladay's done nearly half his work.

And this is who Hernandez really is. All of his numbers this season -- with the exception of the wins and losses, of course -- are practically identical to his numbers last season.

There are pitchers with higher strikeout-to-walk ratios, and Hernandez does benefit from the fielders behind him (last year the Mariners probably had the best defensive unit in the American League, and this year they're pretty good).

But when I look at the AL's top pitchers these past two seasons, I see a bunch of guys who have been great one season and merely good in another -- Greinke, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander -- and I see Felix Hernandez. The King of the American League.