As we head into the last weekend of regular season baseball and the races come down to the wire, I thought Cub fans would need a break from analyzing every game, inning, pitch, error, etc. Especially since the Marlins have not been kind to us and the Cubs have forgotten how to hit, pitch and field for that matter.

So let’s talk Cy Young Award Race 2007

The Cy Yound award can be defined as an annual award given by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to the pitcher voted the most effective in each of the two leagues. Well, here is where the debate can start. How exactly do you define most effective? Is it the most dominant? Does durability matter and if it does, it is more important than lights out dominance? How do you judge? Who do you pick? It is not black and white and that makes it so fun to argue about.

For the record, let’s get this out of the way now. In my opinion, pitcher A does not deserve the Cy Young award simply because he has won the most games in the league. The win-loss record in my mind is still overrated by most fans. Pitchers don’t need flashy win totals to have a good season, although I did in fact list their records. Lets take a look at the contestants, shall we?

American League

Josh Beckett (Boston Red Sox)
W-L 20-6
ERA 3.14
K 188
W 40
WHIP 1.12

The Cool Kid, Beckett’s the American League’s first to win 20 games since Bartolo Colon won 21 and the first for the Red Sox since Curt Schilling (21) in 2004. Beckett benefited greatly from the 6.66 runs per start the Red Sox scored for him, about a run more per game than received by C.C. Sabathia, two runs more than Fausto Carmona, and a run-and-a-half more than John Lackey. Still, he is the top five in WHIP and ERA, and the top 10 in strikeouts and quality starts. Also, according to ESPN, the only Red Sox starters in the last 50 years who had a full season with this many wins, this low an ERA and a winning percentage as good as Beckett are Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Now that is not bad company. Also,never underestimate the media’s fascination will all things East coast.

C.C. Sabathia (Cleveland Indiana)
W-L 18-7
ERA 3.19
K 205
W 36
WHIP 1.14

The Workhorse, Sabathia put together 10 straight starts of two earned runs or fewer. He also posted a 5.69 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which would be the second-best by any left-handed starter since 1901. The Indians offense didn’t always treat Sabathia well: In seven starts from July 24 to August 24, Sabathia allowed 12 earned runs, and his record in those starts was 1-3. He matched up against Johan Santanathree times, twice in the final five weeks, and won all three games. Sabathia has a strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.69) better than all AL starters.

Johan Santana (Minnesota Twins)
W-L 15-13
ERA 3.33
K 235
W 52
WHIP 1.07

The Longshot, most pitchers would dream of having the year he is having. He’s within range of leading the league in ERA and strikeouts. Fewer hitters reach base against him (.272 OBP) than against any starting pitcher in either league. In the five losses to the Indians, the Twins scored a total of eight runs.

Honorable mentions include, Fausto Carmona, Cleveland Indians, Dan Haren, Oakland Athletics, Chien-Ming Wang, New York Yankees and if you believe closers are in the mix, J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners.

Who do I think will win? Beckett, it is hard to beat Red Sox nation, dominance, or 20 wins for that matter. Who do I want to win? Sabathia, I have a special place in my heart for durability. For those pure statistic guys – statically the two are pretty even. Although Beckett has two more wins, Sabathia has been pitching deeper into games, their ERA is statistically identical, as is their WHIP. Sabathia has an even better K/BB rate than Beckett, and has won 17 games while receiving over a run less per game in support than Beckett.

National League

Jake Peavy (San Diego Padres)
W-L 19-6
ERA 2.36
K 234
W 64
WHIP 1.03

The Triple Threat, it is really hard to argue against Jake Peavy, period. Consider this, Peavy could be the NL’s fourth pitching Triple Crown winner (first in wins, ERA and strikeouts) in the last 40 years. The others — Steve Carlton in 1972, Dwight Gooden in 1985 and Randy Johnson in 2002 — all got a Cy Young out of it. He has stopped 11 losing streaks — most in the big leagues.For the doubters out there, Peavy has been better on the road (9-1, 2.13) than at home (8-5, 2.68).It also never hurts when you one up the next closest contender for Cy Young award in a head-to-head competition. Yes, I am talking to you Brandon Webb.

Brandon Webb (Arizona Diamondbacks)
W-L 17-10
ERA 3.02
K 192
W 70
WHIP 1.18

The Dominator, Webb has pitched three complete-game shutouts in a row. Nobody else in the NL has thrown more than one all year.He is also the proud holder of a 42 shutout innings streak. He has racked up 23 starts of seven innings or more, most in the big leagues. He leads the league in innings pitched and complete games. While his record is 16-10, his run support (4.31 runs per nine innings) is a run and a half lower than either Peavy’s (5.75) or Brad Penny‘s (5.67). It is very hard to win back-to-back Cy Young awards, especially with a Jake Peavy in your way.

Brad Penny (Los Angeles Dodgers)
W-L 16-4
ERA 3.03
K 135
W 73
WHIP 1.31

The Monster, Penny is 15-4, and he could be 19-4 if his bullpen hadn’t blown four more games he deserved to win. He has as many quality starts as Peavy (25 in 30 starts), and as many starts allowing one earned run or none (16). But Penny also has won just two of his last nine starts (with admittedly crummy run support).

Honorable mentions include Aaron Harang, Cincinatti Reds, John Smoltz, Altanta Braves, Dan Haren, Oakland Athletics and if you believe closers are in the mix, J.J. Putz, Seattle Mariners.

Who do I think will win? Peavy. Who do I want to win? Peavy, Triple Crown threat? You can’t do much better than that.

All statistics provided by Yahoo Sports as of Thursday, September 27, 2007. ‚àë

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