The Numerology of the Cy Young Award

Calling all stat-heads! Fire Ned Colletti Now has just done an in-depth piece on the 2008 NL Cy Young Award. They detail who should win the honor using statistical analysis, but they justify their reasoning along the way. If you’ve every been confused by how terms such as WHIP, VORP, and FIP actually factor into this type of decision making, give it a read.

Tim LincecumAs far as what I will measure the pitchers by, I feel that the most important statistics are ERA, WHIP, and VORP. ERA’s importance is even recognized by the most staunch traditionalists. It measures the pitcher’s primary reason for being out there: to prevent runs from scoring. WHIP is a “new” statistic by mainstream standards, but when explained, I think traditionalists would agree it makes sense as well. It’s a statistic that revolves around a pitcher’s control and ability to limit hits. Less baserunners is obviously a good thing for the pitcher. VORP is where things get cloudy for a lot of baseball writers. It’s one of those magical and mystical statistics that seems to daze and confuse them. I think it’s valuable because it shows, in the scope of total contribution, how effective a pitcher has been at preventing runs from scoring. If you don’t already understand, you’ll see what I mean later on.

One thing you’ll notice is that I don’t mention wins anywhere. Yes, I am one of those guys who thinks that it is a worthless statistic as far as measuring the worth of a pitcher’s performance. If you disagree, feel free to tell me about it. However, please do so by explaining why Livan Hernandez (13-11, 6.05 ERA) is a better pitcher than Jake Peavy (10-11, 2.85 ERA) in 2008. Thanks. I await your input, John Kruk.

All year, my gut instinct has been that Tim Lincecum should win the NL Cy Young. However, history has shown that players on struggling teams usually don’t win either the Cy Young or MVP. These are the same statistics used by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America, so it’s interesting to see someone break down why Lincecum is the best pitcher in the league. At 23 years-old, this kid is going to be in high demand after his five years with the Giants.

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