Felix Hernandez Awarded AL Cy Young
Tim Chalberg • Thursday, November 18, 2010
I think we all knew that King Felix arrived last year, but a Cy Young award really brings that point home. He is still young, but not a work in progress. King Felix is among the best pitchers in the game, period. At just 24 years old, he has earned the highest individual honor a pitcher can be given.
A Cy Young is always a big deal, but there are a couple things that I think make this particular one special. Both revolve around Felix's wins total.
The first big thing is what national writers have picked up on. Felix Hernandez won despite his 13-12 record. In fact, it wasn't even close, and the margin surprises me. A .500 pitcher on a 101-loss team was just voted the best pitcher in the league. That's pretty amazing. Joe Posnanski wrote a blog arguing that the win has been going out of style for 30 years, but I'm not sure I agree. One of my first blog posts ever blasted the 2005 AL Cy Young voting. I was (and still am) convinced that Bartolo Colon won simply because he won 20 games.
Actually, the 2005 vote kept running through my head. I could have seen CC Sabathia taking the award, much like Colon did that year. I also could have seen David Price taking a razor-thin vote, as a "compromise pick" of sorts because he would have been around the top of ballots that heavily valued wins, as well as ballots that were more interested in ERA, strikeouts, and other more pitcher-specific metrics.
In the end though, it was Felix Hernandez, winning with ease. Voters could have picked the 20-game-winner on a playoff team. They could have picked a 19-game winner with nice numbers across the board. There were several legitimate Cy Young candidates this year, and a majority of them fit the classic mold of a winner better than Felix. Still, the King came out on top. Wins aren't dead, but the traditional criteria is.
I suppose this has been coming, given that Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke both won last year with low victory totals (by Cy Young standards). Still, their totals were high enough to see voters talking themselves into seeing "enough" wins with everything else. It's impossible to look at a 13-12 pitcher and say their record is "enough." It had to be thrown out altogether, and voters hadn't done that before for a starting pitcher.
This leads nicely to the second reason that I think it is so awesome Felix Hernandez is the Cy Young winner. What made Felix's circumstances extraordinary enough for the BBWAA to ignore his win total? That's right, the 2010 Mariners offense. On some level, Felix's Cy Young is the ultimate slap in the face to the "offense" we had the "pleasure" of watching 162 times this past year.
Think about it: Giving Felix the Cy Young with a 13-12 record implies that the best pitcher in the entire league could barely muster a .500 record with the offense the Mariners provided. A majority of baseball writers across the nation took a look at Felix, and then at the Mariners offense, and said to themselves, "Damn, nobody could win with that sh*t."
Without Felix's Cy Young, the 2010 Mariners offense could have faded into baseball oblivion, only to resurface from time to time when some other team in some other city looked like one of the most anemic offenses of all-time. However, after today, that's not their fate. People look up Cy Young winner much more often than bad offenses. The historically woeful 2010 M's offense will forever be linked to Felix's Cy Young, and thanks to that, will go down as one of the most memorable bad offenses of all-time.
As far as I'm concerned, misery is better with company. After suffering through the 2010 season, I want the baseball world to know just how miserable the 2010 M's offense was.
Thanks, Felix, not only for making Mariners baseball exciting every fifth day, but for giving this offense the national attention it deserved. Your Cy Young award made 2010 so, so much better.