Felix Hernandez Perfect Game: Historic Feat Makes King Felix Cy Young Favorite

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 15:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners gets a hug from catcher John Jaso #27 after throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on August 15, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Felix Hernandez became the 23rd Major League Baseball pitcher ever to hurl a perfect game and vaulted himself to the top of the American League Cy Young race in the process.

The 2010 AL Cy Young winner fanned 12 batters on 113 pitches (77 strikes) en route to nine flawless frames against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mariners scored one run on a Jesus Montero base hit in the third inning to earn the 1-0 victory, King Felix's 11th win of the season.

It goes without saying how serious a perfect game is. It's baseball's crowning achievement, and we haven't seen one in the American League since the White Sox's Philip Humber tossed one in late April of this year.

But Humber isn't a Cy Young candidate. Hernandez isn't just a contender; he's the contender after Wednesday's dazzling performance.

Just look at his year. Not only does he lead the American League in shutouts this season with four, but he's also first in innings pitched and second in strikeouts. His endurance is incredible, as he's on pace to clear the 200-inning mark for the fifth straight season.

It's not like his other American League rankings do anything to refute his Cy Young status. He's also fifth in ERA (2.60), fourth in WHIP (1.04) and third in the AL with four complete games. 

The only real blemish comes in the win column. He has 11 victories (tied for 10th in the AL), but his winning percentage is nearly 69 percent (sixth in the AL). In my opinion, a pitcher's wins are the most overrated statistic in baseball, and Felix has proved this before. 

How many games do you expect him to win for a sub-.500 Seattle squad? If he were on one of baseball's best squads, there's no doubt that his record would look even better.

It's easy to look at someone like Jered Weaver, David Price, Chris Sale or even reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander for this award, but how many of those guys have thrown flawless "fire" for nine straight innings this year?

None have, and sports are definitely a "what have you done for me lately" business.

We've seen this from King Felix before. He's the best player on Seattle's roster, and being a pitcher, there's not always a lot he can do to help his team. Taking the mound every five days doesn't help the Mariners win on the other four, but that does nothing to diminish his Cy Young credentials.

Wednesday's game was only one start for Hernandez, but it was a big one. He's made 25 starts this season, but this will stick out above the rest.

King Felix is the most dominant pitcher in the American League this year, and watching him strike out six of the final seven Rays batters on Wednesday only confirmed it.