This is the Year of Pitchers
Left Coast Bias
After watching Roy Halladay throw his second no hitter of the season last night, I got to thinking "this certainly is the year of the pitcher." Roy Halladay to be exact, he became the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan to complete multiple no-hitters in the same year, and the first and only since Don Larsen to throw a no-hitter in a playoff game. If I was forced to select one outstanding pitcher of the year it would be Roy Halladay who will likely be rewarded for his performances with the NL Cy Young.
However, this is not the year of the pitcher, this is the year for pitchers to be exact. Many pitchers, most pitchers, frankly too many pitchers had years far above their careers averages. This raises the question, what happened to the hitting this year? Is the juice gone? Is global warming causing the ball to break better? Or are pitchers just better?
In the National League only eleven players compiled at batting average higher than .300, while the number of pitchers with an ERA below 3.50 totaled twenty, eleven with an ERA of 3 or lower. It’s not shocking to find a few pitchers have absolutely gaudy numbers but eleven with a sub 3 ERA? In fact pitchers, all pitchers, seem to be so good that stud pitchers are actually losing more games because their teams can’t manage enough runs against the opposing pitchers.
Felix Hernandez deserves , but probably won’t win the AL Cy Young because of his measly 13-12 record. The Mariners only managed to score an average of 3.75 runs over his 249.2 innings in 34 starts. Granted, the Mariners have a terrible offense and finished with the fewest homeruns in the majors. But the real question is how did Roy Halladay (the same one who just threw a no hitter) lose 10 games. His 2.44 ERA was third in the NL, he was first in wins (21), innings (250.2 is ridiculous for one season),and second in strikeouts (219). The reason possibly, is that in five of his losses he allowed 3 runs or fewer, while the Phillies scored less than 2 runs in each of them. Had he been given a little run support in those games he could have had a record upwards of 26-5. I personally think that W-L record is overvalued and WHIP is undervalued, no matter as Halladay will win the Cy Young anyway.
It’s kinda ironic that in the American League there are so many pitchers pitching well that its hard to find a deserving candidate for AL Cy Young. Sabathia has the wins, Hernandez the ERA and the K’s, Buchholtz the W’s but fewer innings, and David Price is top 3 in all major categories. While the numbers would lead you to believe Price is the best by virtue of weighting all statistics The real answer is unbeknownst to me.
Frankly, I think this year can be chalked up a statistical anomaly as we have not reentered the dead ball era, nor have pitchers gained super human pitching abilities. I have a strong feeling that next year Jose Bautista will not hit 54 home runs, Felix Hernandez will not lose 12 games, and Roy Halladay might not throw two no hitters, though that would be quite a feat.
(November 1, 2010)