As the AL Cy Young announcement approaches, here’s a quick look at everyone’s favorite candidate from the northwest….
Felix Hernandez was excellent this year, Cy Young excellent. He led the league in innings pitched, ERA, games started and hits per nine, and struck out 232 batters. He pitched against the Yankees three times and the Red Sox once, winning all four of those games. Looking at his season game log, Hernandez only had four, maybe five, bad outings.
How did he do it? He showed up this season with an improved changeup, a pitch that has become one of the best single pitches in the game. I believe this had a positive effect on his fastball as well, and batters had a tough time squaring up either pitch. Both offerings get excellent sinking action and appear to duck under bats. He still spins two different breaking balls, although they seem to blend together at times. Improved deviation between the slider and curve could make Hernandez even better.
But with all these superlatives, will he win the award? Doubtful.
He struggled in what is traditionally the most important Cy Young Award statistic, wins. I guess it makes sense, since Cy Young will forever be the all-time wins leader. So, traditionally, Hernandez’ 13 wins might as well be zero when considering someone for the Cy Young award.
But it wasn’t his fault. In his 34 starts, Felix had nine no-decisions, all of which were classified as quality starts. In his 12 losses, the Mariners offense was shut out four times and scored just one run five times. Those simple numbers, numbers that every baseball fan can understand, are the reason why pitchers can’t be overly lauded or condemned for their win/loss records.