Felix Hernandez Wins Cy Young: Talent Triumphs in Victory

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Felix Hernandez Wins Cy Young: Talent Triumphs in Victory
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

After posting career numbers, leading the league in ERA, innings pitched and being one behind the lead in strikeouts, a pitcher can be reasonably called the best in the league. Today, baseball writers across the nation agreed with that statement. In a stunning victory, Felix Hernandez won the 2010 AL Cy Young despite the fact that he only had a 13-12 record.

Two days ago, Roy Halladay won a unanimous victory in the NL Cy Young race, becoming one of less than 10 pitchers to accomplish such a feat. Halladay's election was easy: he led the league in virtually all major statistical categories, and won 21 games—one of those being a perfect game (the voting occurred before his no-hitter in the postseason).

Hernandez’s stats were equally impressive; unfortunately he plays for the anemic Seattle Mariners, who garnered him only a 13-12 record. To give an idea of how unfair such a categorization is: Hernandez lost nine games in which he allowed two runs or less.

On almost any other team, he would have easily won 20 games—but the Mariners were, by more than 100 runs, the worst offense in the AL. His .520 winning percentage was nearly 20 basis points higher than his team.

He had the second-lowest WHIP in the league behind only former teammate Cliff Lee at 1.06. Likewise, he was second in the league (also behind Lee) with six complete games. He led the league with a 63.4 average game score, and was among the league leaders in all Sabermetric stats.

Should Felix Hernandez have won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award?

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This continues the trend that began last year: a pitcher's individual performance is valued above what his team contributes. Last year, Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum won their respective Cy Young awards despite low win totals. But this year, baseball writers made a huge step forward, picking the best pitcher in the AL despite a lack of wins.

Hernandez is only 24 years old, and has already won 73 games. He has over 1,000 strikeouts and a career 3.20 ERA. Each year, his ERA has been falling, with it ending at 2.49 last year. He could not beat out Greinke’s stellar year (which was among the greatest of all time), but certainly made a strong case for himself. This year, Hernandez lead the league in ERA at 2.27, a remarkable number.

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