Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Chapman shouldn't be Cy Young candidate
By David Schoenfield
Not that I have a vote, but if I did, Aroldis Chapman wouldn't be on my Cy Young ballot.
Look, his numbers look like a fast-pitch softball pitcher's, only the last time I checked he's not pitching from 43 feet. In 65 innings, he's struck out 115 often helpless batters, a strikeout rate of 15.9 per nine innings. That is currently the third-highest all time for a minimum of 50 innings, behind only Kenley Jansen in 2011 and Carlos Marmol in 2010.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is striking out a whopping 15.9 batters per nine innings this season.
Of course, it's not just the strikeouts. He owns a 1.25 ERA, opponents are batting .133 against him and he's tied with Joel Hanrahan for the National League lead with 34 saves even though he didn't pick up his first save until May 20. He's also converted 26 consecutive save chances.
But, as dominant as the strikeout numbers have been, he's hardly the only closer having a dominating season.
Let's start with Hanrahan. He has three blown saves and a 4-1 record compared to Chapman's four blown saves (one while he was still the setup guy) and 5-4 record. Last time I checked, those four losses matter. Oh, the Pirates are 63-0 when leading after eight innings.
Craig Kimbrel has a 1.29 ERA and 32 saves in 35 chances. He's pitched 49 innings so far, but his strikeout rate is actually a nick higher than Chapman's at 16.2 per inning. In fact, it's hard to argue that Chapman has been more dominant: Kimbrel has allowed a .360 (!) OPS, as he's given up three home runs and just one double; Chapman has allowed a .417 OPS, including three home runs and seven doubles. Chapman has pitched 16 more innings, so it's hard to say Kimbrel has been more valuable, but it's also difficult to cast a Cy Young vote for Chapman over Kimbrel.
How about Fernando Rodney? No, his strikeout numbers aren't in the same league but all he's done is post a 0.72 ERA and go 41 for 43 in save chances. The Rays are 64-2 when leading after eight innings.
Baltimore's Jim Johnson is 41 for 44 in save chances. His ERA isn't quite as pretty at 2.88, but 11 of the 20 runs he's allowed came in two outings. The Orioles are 62-1 when leading after eight innings.
With 65 strikeouts and eight walks, Joe Nathan has a batter strikeout/walk ratio than Chapman or Kimbrel. He's 28 for 29 in save chances and the Rangers are 72-1 when leading after eight innings.
Quick, who is the Padres' closer? The Padres are 56-1 when leading after eight innings.
Look, Chapman is awesome. He clearly plays an important role on the Reds and is one of the main reasons Cincinnati owns a big lead in the NL Central. You don't think the Milwaukee Brewers wonder how their season would have gone if John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez hadn't blown up at the back of the bullpen?
My argument is that Chapman hasn't made the Reds better than any number of other closers, and it's easy to argue that Kimbrel has actually been more "dominant." The strikeouts are impressive, but Chapman is still a guy with blown saves and losses on his ledger. Factor in that there are several NL starters having excellent campaigns -- all of whom have thrown 100 more innings than Chapman -- and I wouldn't put Chapman in my top five Cy Young candidates.