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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

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I still think that Zito winning the CY in 02 was one of the all-time dumbest votes in MLB award history.

It was the biggest travesty in Cy Young voting in my lifetime. Pedro was half an ERA lower than Zito, had a WHIP of 0.923 (compared to Zito's 1.13). Pedro had 57 more K's (in 30 fewer innings) and had only 30 starts compared to Zito's 35. Zito also had twice as many walks.

While I agree that Zito's Cy Young Award win was absurd, Pedro had four strikes against him in '02:
(1) As Paul noted, he'd set the bar incredibly high for himself based on prior years.
(2) Voters love wins. See Clemens v. Bob Welch, 1990 CYA voting.
(3) He likely split votes with D-Lowe, who also had an outstanding W-L record that year.
(4) The failure to pitch 200 innings. If he'd won, Pedro would have been the first - and only - starter (in either league) to win a CYA while pitching less than 200 innings in a non-strike-shortened season. (Caveat: Sutcliffe won the '84 NL CYA with a 16-1 record over 150 innings. BUT, he pitched 94 innings in Cleveland before being traded over to the Cubs.)

Seems crazy that 2/3rds of an inning would mean the difference between winning and losing major pitching awards, so I think the "voters love wins" factor had the most weight.

Definitely, Columbus. It's pretty crazy, considering Wins and Losses depend on a lot more than just the pitcher's skill.

Agreed, Atheose. The best example, in my opinion, of that point - and my pick for biggest CYA travesty in my lifetime - was the 1990 CYA race. Clemens was absolutely robbed by the voters. Since we haven't seen Clemens' 1990 season in Paul's excellent series (I assume it's somewhere in the top 7), I hope he'll forgive me for mentioning it now, rather than in a subsequent post.

Welch went 27-6 in 35 starts over 238 innings, with a 2.95 ERA for a powerhouse Athletics team (McGwire, Canseco, R. Henderson, and D. Henderson).

Clemens went 21-6 in 31 starts over 228 innings, with a 1.93 ERA with our Sox led by Boggs, Greenwell, Burks, and an aging Dwight Evans.

Both teams were division winners, but there was clearly an imbalance of power: Oakland scored 733 runs and won 103 games. Boston scored 699 runs and finished at 88-74.

How badly was Clemens robbed? Well, he beat Welch in Complete Games (7 to 2), Shutouts (4 to 2), Quality Starts (27 to 24), Strikeouts (209 to 127), WHIP (1.082 to 1.223), and ERA+ (213 to 126), just to name a few. Clemens posted the first full-season sub-2.00 ERA in the AL since Guidry in 1978. He posted the best ERA+ in the AL since Lefty Grove in 1931.

In Welch's 11 non-quality starts, he had a 6-5 W-L record (in his 24 quality starts he went 21-1, with 2 NDs). In Clemens's 4 non-quality starts, he had a 1-3 record (20-3, with 4 NDs in quality starts).

The A's scored 176 runs, or 5 per game, when Welch started. The Sox scored 131 runs, or 4.23 per game, when Clemens started. If you remove their two highest scoring starts (12-7 and 10-0 for Welch; 13-1 and 14-3 for Clemens), the runs per game averages drop to 4.67 for Welch and 3.59 for Clemens.

What did Welch have going for him? Wins: 27. The most in baseball since Carlton in 1972 (and most in the AL since McLain in 1968). And that's about it.

Even the MVP award voters recognized that Clemens outperformed Welch, placing Clemens 3rd and Welch 9th (one spot behind his teammate Dave Stewart).

It's unpopular to defend Clemens these days, and also hard in light of the way he crapped the bed in the 1990 ALCS, but he should have at least one more CYA in his trophy case.

Between Clemens in 1990, Pedro in 1999 and 2002, and Williams in 1941 and 1949, the Red Sox seem to have been jobbed quite a bit in the awards voting over the decades. It's a mixture of circumstances (Williams' personality, Welch's aberrational season, George King being a d-bag) -- but it's striking, especially when you work through a series like this.

What was Pedro jobbed for in 1999? The MVP?

Yes. Details to come in one of the Top 6 seasons...

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