August 5, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) in the dugout against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Baltimore Orioles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

David Price Gets Undeserved Cy Young

You might assume, since this is a Tigers site, that I am going to be ranting about how Justin Verlander got robbed. After all, he was the clear leader in WAR among American League pitchers (and David Price wasn’t even second). But Verlander is not the guy that I think got robbed…

My pick for AL Cy Young this year – a guy who had a simply amazing season with few historical equals – is the guy that got exactly one first place vote: former Tiger Fernando Rodney. Verlander may have lost out, but he didn’t get disrespected like Rodney did. Verlander fell barely, barely short of Price in the closest Cy Young vote in over 40 years. Rodney came 5th.

Now – as for why Price did not deserve this award – David Price did lead AL starters in wins with 20 and ERA at 2.56, so he comes out on top in what we think of as the “old-fashioned” categories used to determine who had the better season. He did it with a good BABIP allowed and a very high strand rate, which explains part of why he lagged guys like Verlander and Felix Hernandez in varieties of WAR. I don’t hold that against him and I would never advocate giving the Cy Young to a guy who lost games, let runners score and saw ball after ball drilled up the gaps. It may be hard for any great pitcher to repeat that low BABIP and great clutch pitching combo but he did do it, luck or not luck. That isn’t all, though, the bigger reason that Price’s WAR trailed Verlander & Hernandez by such a margin is that he did not make as many starts or pitch as deep into games – finishing with 21 fewer innings under his belt than Hernandez and 27 1/3 fewer than Verlander. If somebody else is 99% as good as Price 110% of the time, doesn’t he provide more value than Price???

So… if you are of the opinion that WAR trumps all and starters always give more value than closers (since they accumulate more WAR) Price should not have won that award and it should not have been close. I am not one of those guys. I believe you should win these awards based on those things that happened on your watch, even if you played so far above your level that you have no hope of repeating that brilliance. If you believe in eye-popping stats and demonstrating prowess in clutch situations, it’s even more of a laugher. Please, if you haven’t already, take a look at Fernando Rodney’s stat line… He finished the season with a mere 2.4 WAR, since WAR is based on FIP not ERA and not much concerned with clutch performance. Ho hum, uninteresting season. He also finished with 48 saves, which though very good is not close to a record (and not even good for the AL lead).

Just look at that ERA, please. Rodney finished with an ERA of 0.60 in 74 1/3 high pressure innings. That is a tremendous, tremendous season for any pitcher. Those few relievers who have won the Cy Young award didn’t have seasons this good, nor have probable and current bullpen Hall-Of-Famers. Dennis Eckersley comes very close with his 0.61 ERA in 1990 (a season in which he finished 5th in AL Cy Young voting) – but that’s it. Let that sink in for a second… NO ONE has ever pitched at least 70 innings in major league baseball, going back to 18-whatever, with an ERA lower than 0.60. NEVER. And that isn’t worthy of a Cy Young award? Lots of guys win 20 games. Lots of guys finish with ERAs of 2.56 or better. Nothing Price did was particularly special – though he was obviously good.

Next Tigers Game View full schedule »
Wednesday, Sep 33 Sep7:05at Cleveland IndiansBuy Tickets

Tags: AL Cy Young David Price Fernando Rodney Justin Verlander

  • Matt Snyder

    “WAR” isn’t based on “FIP”. FanGraphs’ method is based on it, but Baseball Reference’s isn’t. Make your own version based only on runs allowed and innings pitched. Verlander/Price/Felix still beat Rodney.

    • chrisHannum

      Rodney’s Fangraphs WAR is 1.3 wins below his BR WAR due to FIP, but as far as whether he is “beaten” by having a lower WAR than Price… That gets back to the “closers don’t do enough” argument, which I know that we disagree on. It should not be a question simply of how well he pitched times how much he pitched, it should also factor in how well he pitched when it counted the most – which allows relief aces to at least contend with starting pitchers.

      I’m aware that you don’t believe in starting pitcher WPA, but Rodney did beat Verlander & Price in WPA this year – though all of them would have been doubled up by a season like Gooden in ’85. For a reliever to be worthy of the award, they have to have a stellar year in a season in which no starter stands head and shoulders above the rest – I would say that this is what happened in 2012 in the AL.

      • John Verburg

        I completely agree. You won’t get a majority of Detroit fans to agree simply because Rodney made Detroit fans sweat it out while he was here. If historical seasons don’t mean anything, Mike Trout should of won the MVP.

        • Matt Snyder

          I agree John, Trout should have!

      • Matt Snyder

        So, Chris, would you have traded Verlander’s season for Rodney’s then?

        • chrisHannum

          The difference – in terms of actual impact on game outcomes – between Fernando Rodney and Jose Valverde is abou the same as the difference between Justin Verlander and Jeremy Guthrie.

  • Pingback: Detroit Tigers Blog Links of the Day November 15, 2012 | Detroit Tigers Dugout Online | Detroit Tigers Blog

  • Pingback: [THE HANGOVER] The One Where We Discuss The Two Most Economically Distressed Cities In The Country And The Return Of Manny | Rays Index

  • Steve

    The 9th inning is a high-leverage situation some of the time, but it’s not actually that much more important than all of the other innings. Rodney had 74.2 IP, Verlander had 238.1. That’s the end of the story right there.

    If a hitter played 50 games all season, you wouldn’t give him the slightest consideration for MVP, even if he was the best hitter in the league for those 50 games.

    • John Verburg

      It depends on what you believe the award to be. If you believe it’s just for the pitcher who had the best season, then Rodney in my opinion should’ve won. If you believe its about value, then yes, a starter should almost always win it. However, I don’t believe its all about value. The MVP even isn’t. None of the four starting pitchers did anything that was near greatness. Rodney flat out did in a historical sense. Regardless if he is a reliever, how does a guy who did something even Hall of Fame closers didn’t do not get more consideration.

    • chrisHannum

      If a pinch-hitter had all of 200 at-bats, but with a .490 batting average, 80 runs scored and 100 RBI (48 of them game-winning) I might still give him the MVP – though it would seem ridiculous that any team would hold him in reserve.

  • iPadguy57

    You are too much of an idiot for me to even pick apart your sour grapes article. Congratualations to the best pitcher in 2012-David Price, Tampa Bay Rays.