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Sizing up Cy Young

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff September 23, 2009 09:01 AM

Of course, we know Evan Grant is going to toss a first-place vote in the direction of Texas starter Scott Feldman. Obviously, George King will dish one towards Yankees lefty CC Sabathia.

But is Zack Greinke really the slam-dunk favorite to win the Cy Young Award?

One of the pleasures this baseball season following the brilliant season for the Royals ace has been the discovery of Kansas City.comís ďUpon Further Review,Ē authored by Martin Manley. Manley has provided fans with an analytical view of the game without the sense of hierarchy one might find in the voices of other stat-geeks. His data is always compelling, his arguments always sound.

With that said, anything you may still need to know about Greinkeís candidacy for the Cy Young is here, where Manley has whittled down his candidate list to four (axing Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander from the equation): Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Sabathia, and Jon Lester.

Manleyís Lester argument goes like this:

If he wins his next three games, he will get some votes - make no mistake about it. Here is a shocking comparison for you. Since May and over their last 20 games (almost 2/3 of the season).

stats1.gif

The fact is that Lester got off to just as bad a start as Greinke was good. Another fact is that Boston isÖ Boston and Lester has been sensational the past four months. All Iím saying is that if things donít go that well for Greinke, but they do go great for Lester, itís still possible he could win it.

Much like Greinkeís deceiving record, Lester should have more wins attached to his name, suffering no-decisions seven times this season during which he had allowed three runs or fewer. Five of those times, the lefty allowed two earned runs without the benefit of a win. Realistically, Lester could be have four more wins this season, which would make him 18-7, and staring 20 in the face this final fortnight of the season.

Conversely, four times this season Greinke left the mound having allowed one or fewer runs, and didnít walk away with the win. As for recent history, Hernandez has quality starts in 20 of his last 21, Lester in 15 of his last 16, Sabathia in 9 of his last 9, and Greinke in 14 of his last 17.

That doesnít deny any of those guys the right to be in the discussion. But 20 out of his last 21? Since the beginning of June, Hernandez has sported a nifty 1.98 ERA to go along with 11 wins for the Mariners. In fact, compare Hernandezís overall numbers to Greinke, Sabathia, and Lester and it seems almost a toss-up really between Hernandez and Greinke.

Still, maybe Greinkeís outing against Boston last night did, in fact, seal the deal for any non-believers. And if not, may we present this tidbit from a previous Manley post:

The last pitcher to have 246+ strike outs, a 2.14 (or less) ERA and .471 (or less) home runs per 9 innings pitched was Pedro Martinez in 1999. Even more amazing, it has only happened five times in the majors since 1970. If Greinke finishes the season with those stats, take a look at the company he will be in.

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Not only did each one of these players win the Cy Young that season, but they were all unanimous except for Clemens who had 25/28 first place votes.

Not enough? Jeff Moore at Dugout Central played with the numbers a bit, and imagined Sabathia and Greinke made their respective starts this season for the other team; Sabathia on the Royals and Greinke on the Yankees. With the run support the Yankees gave Sabathia this season in each of his starts, Greinke could conceivably be 23-3. On the flip side, Sabathia would conceivably be 9-11 for the Royals. Obviously there are plenty of factors (park, strength of opposition, reality) that make this result suspect, but the disparity is so overwhelming nonetheless that it should open some eyes.

Yes, Zack Greinke is your AL Cy Young winner. We assume King and Grant are presently preparing their excuses as to why he doesnít deserve it.

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