Seattle Mariners Hurler Felix Hernandez Wins AL Cy Young Award by a Landslide
The question is, how did a guy on the worst team in the American League win this coveted award while posting only 13 wins—the fewest ever by a Cy Young winner?
Frankly, there's a whole lot more to pitching greatness than just wins and losses, and King Felix really is the best pitcher in the American League.
Read on to get the whole story.
Win-Loss Record is Not the Whole Story
A team's win-loss record is dependent upon the whole team—and so is the pitcher's win-loss record.
Hernandez may not have won 20 games, but that's not his fault. Blame rests squarely on the run support the guy got—or didn't get—from his team.
The Mariners offense gave Felix an average of only 2.4 runs for each of his starts. What's worse, out of his 34 starts, 15 of them were backed with two runs or fewer by the team.
As manager Dave Wakamatsu said, "You have to score runs to have a ballgame."
In many of the starts he didn't win, he allowed two or fewer runs in each game and his team still couldn't get the win.
I don't care if you're Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Satchel Paige all rolled into one, you can't be a winning pitcher on a losing team.
Other Numbers are Impressive, Too
As Tampa Bay's David Price said, "The numbers he put up—those were pretty ridiculous numbers outside of the won-loss column."
As Felix himself put it, "It's not only the wins, it's the whole stats together." He went on to explain that "Strikeouts, ERA, innings pitched, opponents' average, all the stats, man. They've got to be important."
King Felix Performs Well Under Pressure
Every time Felix Hernandez took the mound to start a game, he felt the pressure. He knew that in order for his team to win, in order for his record to reflect the tremendous talent that he is, he had to win. Had to.
It's with that kind of pressure on him that King Felix showed just what he's made of. He pitched nine no-decisions under that kind of pressure. His 2.27 ERA for the season, as well as 232 strikeouts, tell you just how good this guy is.
He had to be, because the rest of his team just wasn't getting it done at the plate.
Watch Felix work his magic.
There Were a Few Bumps in the Road
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Hernandez didn't do well against the Rangers this year. In his six starts facing the Texas team, he posted a 4.28 ERA.
But every team, and every pitcher, runs across an opponent who just has their number. Case in point: Mike Mussina, whom the M's found virtually unhittable for a long time.
Fortunately for Hernandez, the Texas Rangers weren't the only team he pitched against this year.
Look at King Felix's stats aside from his games against the Rangers. He started six games against other playoff teams, and put up 5 wins with a 1.08 ERA.
The NL Winner and a Closing Thought
NL winner Roy Halladay
Still, Halladay's numbers aren't quite as good as Hernandez's.
Felix Hernandez did more today than just win a major award. He also proved there's a new era in Cy Young voting, one where the number of wins is not the biggest consideration.
He showed that dominating power, focus, determination and talent are what matter.
He also proved he's the best pitcher in baseball, even if he's on the worst team.