Will Felix be King in 2013?
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher, Felix Hernandez, signed a fully guaranteed, $175 million, 7-year deal this off-season to continue being a perennial Cy Young contender. So far, he has lived up to his end of the deal.
While everyone’s opinions vary, my favorites for the AL’s best pitcher come down to a three dog race between Matt Scherzer (Det), Yu Darvish (Tex) and King Felix.
Other contenders such as Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) and Bartolo Colon (Oak) simply don’t have the strikeouts that voters like. Unfortunately for Chris Sale (CWS), his 7 wins are a hard sell compared to league leader’s 17.
Then there would be Anibel Sanchez (Det) and Hisashi Iwakuma (Sea)… both having great seasons but neither are even the best pitcher on their own team, let alone the league. That leaves us with the big three mentioned above.
So how does Felix compare? Cy Young voting is purely subjective, as each voter has a different set of criteria from which they judge a pitcher. So let’s take a deeper look based on some of the more popular categories.
We will assign 1-3 points, highest goes to the leader for that category.
Scherzer (17-1) 3, Hernandez (12-5) 2, Darvish (11-5) 1
While wins and losses are as dependant upon a team’s offense and bullpen as they are the starting pitcher, the stat still creeps into voters’ minds. With that, Scherzer’s 17 wins to 1 loss is impressive, even if it as much a testament to his consistent pitching as it is the fact he plays for an offensive powerhouse.
Hernandez’s accomplishment, however, is notable because while Detroit and Texas both lead their division with 69 and 68 wins, Seattle is creeping behind at 54 wins. So while Scherzer’s W-L record may look sexier, King Felix has done more with much less behind him.
Scherzer (.90) 3, Darvish (1.04) 2, Hernandez (1.08) 1
The WHIP (Walks + Hits / Innings Pitched) is one of my favorite stats to judge a pitcher. Scherzer’s .90 outpaces every qualified starter in the league, with Iwakuma being second at .99. Darvish comes in at 3rd while Hernandez’s 1.08 comes in a distant, though still impressive, 7th.
Innings Pitched – GS
Hernandez (173.2 – 25) 3, Scherzer (158.1 – 23) 2, Darvish (145.2 – 22) 1
I didn’t just want to look at innings pitched per game, because the more starts your ace can go, the better. The Mariners have had their ace pitch a significant amount of more innings, and even 2-3 more games. In this category, Felix is, by far and away, the king.
Hernandez (2.28) 3, Darvish (2.72) 2, Scherzer (2.84) 1
What makes Hernandez’s success in this category is the fact he has pitched so many more innings. To have the most IP in the league while holding the league’s lowest ERA is perhaps the greatest argument for why Hernandez deserves the Cy Young this year.
Darvish (11.90) 3, Scherzer (9.96) 2, Hernandez (9.25) 1
I didn’t want to go just by total strikeouts, because part of that is a byproduct of IP, which the pitchers have already been judged on. The K/9 stat is more indicative as a pitcher’s dominance when they do pitch.
Even with all three being striking, this is where Darvish really shines.
Scherzer -11, Hernandez – 10, Darvish – 9
An extremely close race has Scherzer currently in the lead. If not for his 17 wins, which is probably the least useful stat of the group, I think Hernandez would win the award outright.
Felix’s year-long dominance, coupled with the workhorse pitching load, really makes him stand out.
All that being said, the race still has a bit to go. If Hernandez can stay healthy, continue his dominance, and perhaps have his team eek out a few more wins for him, the Cy Young award will be King Felix’s in the end.