FanPost

2010 Cy Young Analysis

Hopefully, all the votes are in for the Cy Young Award for 2010 (if they aren't then the playoffs are going to change a few minds). Since I've already done a couple of other posts this season on Cy Young candidates using mainly rate stats, I am going to go straight to the final stats for the season, now with WAR.

 

NL

Roy Halladay 6.6 

Josh Johnson 6.3

Ubaldo Jiminez 6.3

Adam Wainwright 6.1

 

AL

Cliff Lee 7

Justin Verlander 6.3

Felix Hernandez 6.2

Francisco Liriano 6

 

So that solves the Cy Young Award question, right? Let's analyze what goes into the WAR based Cy Young Award predictions... granted, the award isn't really based on any one stat, but it is becoming more accepted (especially sabermetrics in general). Tim Lincecum is a good example of this.

One factor going into WAR is innings pitched. First off, a sidenote: Carpenter and that one guy on the DBacks tied for fifth in the major leagues in innings pitched. Congrats to the triumphant veteran. As for the other guys with the WAR listed, Roy Halladay (who just pitched a no hitter in game 1 of the playoffs as I type this!) pitched the most innings in the majors at 250.2. Second most was Felix Hernandez, then Adam Wainwright around 230. Verlander pitched over 224 innings, Jiminez  pitched around 221.2 innings, and Cliff Lee was at 212.1. Francisco Liriano logged 191.2 innings and Josh Johnson only pitched 183.2 innings in 2010. For comparison, Jake Westbrook pitched over 200. 

Another component to WAR is a rate type of stat showing effectiveness while pitching, rather than how often. I'd like to take a look at all rate stats for the Cy Young candidates, and maybe find some additional contenders.

 

ERA

NL

Josh Johnson 2.3

Adam Wainwright 2.42

Roy Halladay 2.44

Ubaldo Jiminez 2.88

 

AL

Felix Hernandez 2.27

Clay Bucholz 2.33

David Price 2.72

Trevor Cahill 2.97

you have to skip a few more players before you get to...

Cliff Lee 3.18

skip a few more...

Justin Verlander 3.37

and a few more, then...

Francisco Liriano 3.62

 

As you can see, WAR corrects for league (and park) factors, since there were far more NL players in the MLB ERA leaders category than any other rate stat. Next, the stat that is used predominantly in WAR, Fielding Independent Pitching.

 

FIP

NL

Josh Johnson 2.41

Adam Wainwright 2.86

Mat Latos 3

Roy Halladay 3.01

Yovani Gallardo 3.02

Chad Billingsley 3.07

Ubaldo Jiminez 3.10

 

When Adam Wainwright's pitching was on, it was ON. His stuff was probably even more ridiculous than Halladay, and his curve ball was absolutely devastating to hitters for much of the season. For the NL, it has become obvious looking at the rate stats that Josh Johnson was THE lights out pitcher in 2010. But unfortunately, he pitched so many less innings than Roy Halladay, and in my opinion, Adam Wainwright. By innings pitched, Halladay would be the NL Cy Young award winner. 

However, if you disqualify Josh Johnson for innings pitched, Adam Wainwright had the better rate stats over Roy Halladay. Waino's ERA was a tad better than Halladay's, but in FIP Wainwright is a little more clearly ahead (15 percentage points higher). Since Halladay did pitch 20 more innings than Wainwright, to me it's sort of a wash between the two. Josh Johnson is an intriguing candidate, but he won't be winning this year in all likelihood.

 

AL

Cliff Lee 2.58

Francisco Liriano 2.66

Justin Verlander 2.97

Felix Hernandez 3.04

 

It's a lot more clear in the AL who was the most effective by FIP than by ERA. Lee and Liriano both had amazing seasons without a doubt. However in ERA they are not even top 5 pitchers. This is park factors at work, since these two pitched in hitter's parks. It's almost laughable that ERA is the only stat quoted on televised broadcasts. 

 

But wait, there are more stats... 

xFIP

NL

Roy Halladay 2.92

Adam Wainwright 3.14

Josh Johnson 3.15

Tim Lincecum 3.21

...

Ubaldo Jiminez 3.73

 

AL

Francisco Liriano 3.06

Cliff Lee 3.23

Felix Hernandez 3.26

Jered Weaver 3.51

Justin Verlander 3.68

 

So more reason for Halladay to win Cy Young award. Lee and Liriano swap places in xFIP.... Lee pitched more innings.... it's getting confusing. So how about add another stat scaled to ERA, called tERA?

tERA uses batted ball regulatory factors, to account for luck, as far as I can tell. I suppose someone out there is claiming that some of these guys got lucky, here's leaders in this rate stat:

 

tERA

NL

Josh Johnson 2.82

Adam Wainwright 2.93

Ubaldo Jiminez 3.28

Roy Halladay 3.35

 

AL

Cliff Lee 2.65

Felix Hernandez 2.93

Francisco Liriano 2.93

Justin Verlander 3.11

 

So this actually made it a little less clear. Cliff Lee is probably the best pitcher in the AL in 2010, except Hernandez pitched a lot more innings. Liriano, while quite good, didn't pitch as many innings as either... so Johnson and Liriano are disqualified because of the magical 200 inning plateau. 

Narrowing the analysis down, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and even Justin Verlander are possible Cy Young Award candidates. As we saw by WAR, Halladay is 1st in the NL and Wagonmaker 4th. What is it good for, indeed. In the AL, Cliff Lee is first followed by Justin Verlander. Felix Hernandez is just .1 WAR off the Verlander pace.

Between the five over-200-inning WARhorses, there are many rate stats referenced. To make it easier to evaluate, here are the averages of the stats scaled to ERA for these pitchers (which I call modified ERA):

 

modERA

(presented in order of innings pitched)

Roy Halladay 2.93

Felix Hernandez 2.875

Adam Wainwright 2.8375

Justin Verlander 3.2825

Cliff Lee 2.91

 

First off, I am a little confused as to why WAR values Jiminez over Wainwright. Wainwright's rate stats as well as innings pitched were greater than that of Ubaldo's. By the averaged stats, Wainwright has the best stuff in the majors in 2010 (well, except for Josh Johnson). Do we value Halladay's 20 more innings pitched over Wainwright's superior stuff? Wainwright trails Halladay only in xFIP.

What's even more confusing is baseballreference.com's WAR leaderboards value Jiminez the most! Wainwright is 4th. Regardless, there are other reasons why Halladay's 2010 is just a hair better than Wainwright's..... Roy Halladay pitched 9 complete games to Wainwright 5 (second most). The Doc also pitched 4 shutouts this year, to Wainwright's 2 (also second most). What seals the deal (here's the award, Doc) is a mindboggling 7.3 K:BB ratio for Halladay. Wainwright was 3rd this season behind Josh Johnson at 3.804. 

Despite the odd WAR totals for pitchers, I have no reservations saying Wainwright was the 2nd best pitcher overall in the NL in 2010. Doc Halladay, however, should be the NL Cy Young winner without much doubt. Just on the ridiculous amount of complete games pitched and the lopsided K:BB ratio, the guy was just unstoppable this year.

 

As for the American League, it's even more difficult to choose a winner. Felix Hernandez was lights out and pitched a ton of innings. Cliff Lee had an insane 10.278 K:BB ratio, but he didn't pitch as much as Hernandez. They both had a lot of complete games, and each had a shutout. One could argue, however, that Lee had much superior stats in FIP and tERA. Baseballreference.com WAR likes Hernandez the best, while fangraphs WAR prefers Lee. I guess it's pretty much a toss up.

To conclude, please vote for your picks on the Cy Young Award for 2010, let's see if MLB agrees with our picks.

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