Awards Season: Felix Hernandez Did Not Win The Cy Young Award

Kyle Seager winning the Gold Glove was a nice little surprise I think nobody expected.  Chris Young winning the Comeback Player of the Year was as sure of a slam dunk as can be.  Lloyd McClendon not even making the Top 3 for Manager of the Year is at least a little insulting, but it’s hard for me to say if he’s more or less deserving than the Baltimore, Kansas City, and Anaheim managers.  I’m too close to the situation; I’ve watched these Mariners bungle their way through life for too many years.  2014, and the job done by LMC, felt like a fucking miracle on par with walking on water.  Then again, I probably would’ve sent my vote to the Kansas City manager – even discounting what they did in the post-season – because if you want to talk Long Suffering Baseball Fans, followers of the Royals will chew your God damn ear off!

Yesterday, they announced the Cy Young awards.  In the NL, Clayton Kershaw won it unanimously.  In the AL, it was always going to be a 2-man race.  In one corner, you have Felix Hernandez.  The face of the Mariners’ franchise and one of the most talked-about names in baseball at every trade deadline until he signed that massive extension.  Winner of the 2010 Cy Young Award, having the single greatest season he’s ever had in what’s looking like a Hall of Fame career.  In the other corner, you have Corey Kluber.  A guy, plays for the Indians, who became a full time starter in 2013.  He had his breakout this year, coming in second overall in strikeouts, with a lot of other impressive numbers to boot.

Two worthy players (and Chris Sale, I guess, but no one took him seriously).  Two aces pitching for teams who fell just short of the Wild Card.

Felix had the ERA crown at 2.14.  Felix had the best WHIP in a generation with 0.92.  Felix was second in Innings Pitched (236, behind David Price) and fourth in strikeouts (248, behind Price, Kluber, and Max Scherzer).  Felix’s 6.8 WAR was second to Kluber’s 7.4.  Felix’s 2.56 FIP was behind Kluber’s 2.35.  Felix’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was a little better, Kluber’s strikeout-per-9 innings was a little better.

In the end, it was determined by the Baseball Writers.  Out of 30 voters, Kluber received 17 first place votes to Felix’s 13.  Overall, Kluber had 169 points to Felix’s 159.  It was that close.  Both were deserving to win it all, but one guy did, and it wasn’t our guy.  That makes me a little sad.

What irritates the shit out of me is the rationale some of these voters used.  Read this.  Or don’t.  I’ll summarize.  Here are some of the reasons why people voted for Kluber over Felix:

  • The Seattle Mariners had a good defense, while the Cleveland Indians had a bad defense.
  • Felix Hernandez had one bad game in Toronto on September 23rd.
  • Felix Hernandez plays in a more pitcher-friendly home ballpark.
  • Kluber beat Felix in their lone head-to-head matchup.
  • Kluber had a better month of September.
  • Kluber had more 10-strikeout games.
  • Kluber had better sabermetrics.

The last point I’d be willing to concede.  I’m not going to dig around and learn all the intricacies of every sabermetric statistic to try to make an argument one way or the other.  If you tell me Kluber had the better sabermetrics, and if that’s something that matters to you as a voter, then fine, I give.

But, come on.  You’re punishing Felix because of Safeco Field, and because our general manager put a competent defensive unit around him?  At that point, what more could he possibly do?  How much better than Kluber would he reasonably have to be to be considered the best pitcher in the AL?  How can he expect to compete for one of these awards again if he’s being dinged for things outside of his control?

Nevermind the fact that his home and road numbers are actually quite similar, and the fact that he gave up four more homers in Safeco than he did on the road.  Oh, and also NEVERMIND the fact that Felix had 12 unearned runs compared to Kluber’s 8, which would lead me to understand that maybe Felix didn’t have this huge defensive advantage after all.  Yeah, no, yeah, those are valid reasons.

Oh, but that month of September though!  Hang on:

  • Felix:  6 games, 1.66 ERA, 25 hits in 38 innings, 11 walks, 43 strikeouts
  • Kluber:  6 games, 2.09 ERA, 39 hits in 43 innings, 7 walks, 56 strikeouts

I dunno, not seeing this huge difference.  And pardon me if I don’t give credence to their head-to-head matchup, which saw Felix take the loss while going 7 innings and giving up 2 runs, while Kluber went the full 9, shutting out our inept offense.  If you’re going to use that as criteria in voting for Kluber, then we have to bring team offense into the equation.  Cleveland as a team scored 35 more runs than the Mariners and had a .706 OPS vs. our .676.  But, again, that’s really an argument I don’t want to make, because this is SUPPOSED to be about the pitchers.

The one thing that really burns my ass more than anything else is this whole What Have You Done For Me Lately mentality.  Really?  We’re going to boil a guy’s season down to his final meaningful start?

Corey Kluber went 8 shutout innings on September 26th to win his final start of the year 1-0.  Felix Hernandez went 4.2 innings on September 23rd down in Toronto, costing us a win and ultimately a shot at the Wild Card.  He gave up 8 runs in that game, though a scoring change after the fact determined only 4 of those runs were earned (and thereby giving him the ERA title after he pitched 5.1 innings of meaningless shutout baseball on the final day of the season).

I can see being a little cynical about that whole scoring change issue.  Seems a little self-serving on the Mariners’ part to ask for a review of the play days later, but Major League Baseball didn’t HAVE to give us the scoring change.

Regardless, one guy won his last start and one guy didn’t.  Except, here’s the thing:  at the end of the day on September 26th, the Indians were 3 full games back in the Wild Card race, with two days to go.  They had two teams to leapfrog in order to get into the playoffs even going IN to that game, so what makes Kluber’s performance on that day any more important than Felix’s performance on the 28th, after we’d found out Oakland won earlier in the afternoon?  Kluber’s big final start meant NOTHING, and yet he’s being lauded for pitching well in a meaningless game.

Was it a shame that Felix laid a stinker in Toronto?  Of course.  You can certainly make the argument that, to date, that game was the biggest of Felix’s career.  Albeit, a career that has still yet to see him grace the post-season.  Nevertheless, that was an important game, and his meltdown cost us on that day.

But, the Cy Young isn’t supposed to be about what you did last.  It’s supposed to be about your entire body of work.  And, quite frankly, I’ll never be able to forget what Felix was able to do in those 16 starts from May 18th through August 11th when he went at least 7 innings in every game while giving up 2 runs or less.  IN EVERY GAME!  Are you kidding me?  He set the Major League record!  That’s not just dominance, that’s SUSTAINED dominance, over damn near half a season!  And, it’s not like he’s just hanging his hat on those 16 starts, most of his other 18 starts were pretty fucking good too.  But, not that one in Toronto, I guess.  Fuck me.

Why are we glossing over a remarkable achievement like those 16 consecutive starts?  Why isn’t THAT the fucking headline on this Cy Young race?  Clayton Kershaw, the unanimous NL Cy Young award winner couldn’t even achieve what Felix was able to achieve!  And we’re glossing over it for what?  A lone start in September?  Bitch, please.

I’m not going to go around saying this is the biggest travesty in the history of meaningless sports awards, but it’s still pretty fucking irritating.  It’s also a reason why I choose to no longer talk about politics with anyone, even with people who agree with mine.  It’s not what you vote for, it’s HOW you vote.  And the OVERWHELMING majority of ignorant cunts in this country base their votes on the most pointless, trivial, stupid-ass bullshit you can possibly think of.  The Baseball Writers Association of America, sadly, is a predictable cross section of those very same ignorant cunts of the American voting public.

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