Rosenthal Gets it Right on Cy

Tell me how it would be fair to penalize Hernandez for pitching for one of the worst offensive teams in the past 40 years.

People inside and outside the sport will be jolted if Hernandez wins the award with a record at or near .500. But the circumstances are so odd, the choice will be entirely justified.

Hernandez’s Mariners are on pace to score 513 runs. The last AL team to score fewer than 513 was the 1971 California Angels, according to STATS LLC. The last NL team to do it was the ‘71 San Diego Padres.


That’s right, the 2010 the Mariners could score the fewest runs of any AL team in the DH era, which began in 1973.


There is an old baseball adage for a pitcher who receives consistently dreadful run support: “Sometimes, you’ve just got to pitch a shutout.”

What is Hernandez supposed to do, allow fewer than zero runs?

Sabathia gave up seven runs, all earned, Thursday night. Hernandez has allowed that many earned runs in his last nine starts combined.

The award is not for Most Valuable Pitcher or best pitcher for a contending team. It is for best pitcher, period. And this season, Hernandez is that guy.

Rosenthal even goes on to cite rate stats and ERA+! Even though he isn’t totally ready to abandon win-loss records for pitchers and embrace xFIP or WAR, this is the picture of a guy with an open mind willing to consider actual arguments and consider what people are actually saying. Kudos to Ken Rosenthal. And to be fair, I honestly think there are more people like Rosenthal in the BBWAA than guys like Strauss. They did give the A.L. Cy Young award to Zack Greinke last year, after all.

And I do think that Neyer is right in saying that yesterday’s loss probably helped Hernandez’s Cy Young case. Put simply; anyone who can look at that game yesterday and think it makes any sense to credit the loss to Felix just isn’t an intellectually serious person.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

11 thoughts on “Rosenthal Gets it Right on Cy

  1. Even tho I follow (and agree) with all of the stats, all of the arguments – but you do have to allow me this – it would/will be tough to vote a pitcher with a 12-12 record the Cy Young.  Even tho he is outpitching everyone else in the AL.  (I would gladly trade anyone on the Yankees staff for Felix – even up.)

  2. No it wouldn’t. Did you know that in his 12 credited losses the Mariners have scored a total of 14 runs? That’s absolutely insane! But anyway, I’m pretty much resolved to just totally ignore “wins and losses” now, so I wouldn’t have a tough time voting for anyone based on that.

  3. Wasn’t disagreeing, Brien.  Just one question then – why haven’t the Yankees already bought him? ;)  (or – why are we paying Javy more money than Felix earns? )

  4. Jon is right.  It will be tough for most voters to vote for a pitcher with a 12-12 record.  Not that I have a vote, but up until a few weeks ago, I never could have voted for Felix for Cy. Since then, I’ve been confronted with the facts.  I’ve changed my mind.  My non-vote is for King Felix.  But it’s tough to change one’s mind, and on this point Jon is right.
    Jon, I go with the old truism that young pitchers will break your heart.  Pitching is hard to predict, and the young kids are harder still to predict.  So, careful about who you offer the M’s in your mythical trade.

  5. Ok So I pretty much JUST commented on your article from yesterday with the whole Strauss thing so I just want to get it down here since there isnt really any discussion going on with the onther one.

    I think more and more people are seeing that [Strauss’] kind of writing really IS closed-minded, short-sighted drivel. I would consider myself an average fan. 25 years old, Yankees fan, dad signed me up for little league a long time ago and I’ve loved the game ever since. Now for quite awhilie I believed, as many still do, that statistics like Wins, RBI, ERA etc, were the END ALL BE ALL of baseball statistics. And I think most of us would agree that we all started off this way. This is just what was force-fed to us so its what we believed. Like the Easter Bunny. Wins and RBI are the Easter Bunny. Now the point that I’m trying to get to is that the average fan, if they truly enjoy the game will want to know everything there is to know about it. And where does the average 25 year old person go to get information about ANY SINGLE TOPIC their little hearts might fancy? Well, the internet, obviously. And what does one find when one searches the web for “baseball statistics”? Well one finds websites like fangraphs and baseballreference and this one, where a sabermetric society is in glorious full bloom! And sure, one can also find meaningless garbage on other websites, no doubt, but – and this is the important part – the internet allows average baseball fans like myself to actually leave a comment on what they just read. So if one were to read a terrible article extolling the virtues of basing the author’s Cy Young vote on how cool their hair is or how awesome their tattoos are, an average fan can tell the author to get their head out of their bum, and all the other average fans can see that this is an example of bad baseball writing. So I guess my overall point here is that the internet is really what is turning your average fan into a more knowledgable, opinionated fan who knows what’s good and what’s bad, and that’s gotta count for something. Yeah, we’re still gonna have writers like Chass and Strauss, but I think they are part of a dying breed. And in time, an extinct breed. Great piece by the way Brien!
    Dan Czlapinski

  6. Brien:

    I appreciate your work, and I believe that Felix Hernandez will win the Cy Young award, and deservedly so.  All things considered, he simply has the strongest case.

    However, your statement in the final paragraph that it’s absurd to assign (credit is not the right word) Hernandez with a loss when his team loses a 1-0 game is wrong.  Of course he should be charged with the loss for that game — he’s the pitcher of record, and his team lost the game.  He allowed more runs than the opposition — who else would get the loss?  Your real point (based on the string of articles on this topic) is that being charged with many such losses this year should not damage his case for the Cy Young award — and on that you’re correct.

    Even though you are correct on the merits, remember that it doesn’t help your argument to dismiss those who don’t agree with you as not “intellectually serious.”  You may be right — there are plenty of people who willfully ignore the facts.  But dumping on them isn’t going to persuade them that you’re right.

    Thanks to everyone who takes the time to contribute to this site.  It’s great to be a part of the Yankee community.

  7. Sandy, I could have written that more clearly, so let me take another stab at it if I may. Of course, if you’re talking about record purposes, the “loss” should go to Felix. No argument there. What I mean was, that if you’re looking at that game and trying to assign blame for the loss, obviously you’d blame the offense that didn’t score a single run before the pitcher who gave up one run in a complete game. I should have said it’s absurd to blame the loss on Felix. And if anyone were actually to claim that Felix should have “found a way to win” even though his offense scored zero runs, that would be what I wouldn’t take seriously. I don’t really think that’s unfair at all.

  8. This is still very very frustrating to me.  I can accept that not every one out there is going to make the effort to understand all the advanced metrics out there, even professional sportswriters who do this for a living.  All of us baseball nerds have probably put in more time than we’d care to admit in learning and understanding FIP, xFIP, WAR, wOBA, etc. (It’s funny, I even give my friends a hard time for using OPS now…a true saber-snob)
    But wins and losses??  Hasn’t EVERY baseball fan watched TONS of games where a pitcher throws a gem and still picks up the loss?  In those games, when the common sense reality is staring them in the face, every one understands that you can pitch well in a loss, and pitch poorly in a win.  No one would ever argue that position players and relievers have nothing to do with winning baseball games.  It’s plainly obvious.
    And for whatever reason, some people just utterly forget that plain common sense when looking at win-loss records.

  9. Just thought I’d chime in here.  The comments here at this site are superior to almost any you find on the web.  There doesn’t seem to be much to argue with as we all seem to be on the same page with regards to wins and losses.  Wasn’t there some effort to quantify a good pitching performance versus a bad one?

      I know “quality starts” has been around, but seems to have fallen out of favor.  What is the standard now?  I know Bill James’ game score attempts this.  I just looked at baseballreference and came up with some scores for Felix and CC.  Both have 33 games started, CC averages 56.94 game score and Felix 63.21.  I couldn’t find a sortable to find league leaders, but just for reference; David Price averaged 58.57 through 30 games started.  These numbers seem to be in line with everyone’s thinking.  A couple of questions come up for me though…ballpark adjustment? opposition?  Seems both Price and CC pitch under harsher conditions in both areas but the game score stat doesn’t seem to account for this at all.  Is there a better stat out there that I’m not aware of?

  10. Brien:

    Regarding your follow-up to my previous post, yes, that’s fair.  Thanks for the clarification.

  11. Here’s a question. Should we even bother with individual win-loss records at all? Can you really think of a good reason other than “we’ve just always done it”?