MLB Awards: Should Phillies' Roy Halladay Win Another Cy Young?

Matt Goldberg@@tipofgoldbergCorrespondent INovember 16, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 21:  Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the fourth inning at Nationals Park on August 21, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Phillies’ ace of aces Roy Halladay has a chance to win his second NL Cy Young Award in as many years tomorrow. Will he—or technically, will the Baseball Writers Association of America—give Phillies Nation a reason to cheer?

In case you have been spending time in an alternate universe since the end of September, many Phillies fans are still in mourning over their 102-win juggernaut’s rude dispatch by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

Yes, there have been glimmers of good news in the offseason. Jim Thome is back in red pinstripes and just seeing this class act back in town feels good. General Manager Ruben Amaro chose to pursue Jonathan Papelbon rather than his own closer, Ryan Madson, and that acquisition figures to be a valuable one.

But those two player additions aside, it’s been tough around here, and if you factor in the Eagles’ hideous 3-6 start along with the NBA lockout, it’s been a cruel stretch for Philly sports fans. And I say that without even mentioning the horrific situation in State College, PA. Oops.

Back to the task at hand: Roy Halladay and the NL Cy Young Award.

Halladay has been nothing short of brilliant in his two years in South Philly, and has a good chance to win back-to-back awards. If he does so, Doc will become only the ninth pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win three or more Cy Young Awards. All of the other eight are, or will be, Hall of Famers. And Doc’s plaque will also hang in Cooperstown one day— whether or not he ever wins another Cy Young Award.

So will he win?  He may, but this column is not written to make a prediction.

Does he deserve to win?  It says here that a decent case can be made for Halladay; it also says here that a much stronger case can be made for Clayton Kershaw, the young ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Saying this takes nothing away from Doc’s brilliance or the splendid work of co-aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who also merit consideration. Lee would rank third on my mythical ballot (just in front of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Ian Kennedy) and Hamels would probably hang in at No. 5.

Picking a deserving winner is as much art as science. And while controversial or even heretical to some, I do tend to put more emphasis on “real stats” than some of the newer stats such as  ERA-plus, FIP, X-FIP and Gladys Knight and the Pips. Having taken shots against the IPs, I do like WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).

And yes, I also remain more of an opponent than an advocate of WAR and don’t possess a ton of patience for things like BABIP and fly ball ratio when it comes to awards. Why? I’m not a scout or a GM and believe that awards should reward actual performance.

Below are (some of) the stats compiled by my top five candidates in 20111.

























































With apologies to Hamels, any of the top four would be worthy selections for the NL Cy Young Award this year. In most pundits’ minds, the choice comes down to Halladay and Kershaw.

Reviewing the numbers, it is hard to see why Halladay (who may well still be MLB’s mythical best starter) would get the nod over Kershaw this year.

Durability: Halladay once again topped his league in complete games, and had an eight to five advantage over Kershaw here. On the other hand, Kershaw had two shutouts to Doc’s one, and they pitched the same amount of innings, give or take one out. Call this a draw.

Control:  Doc had a ratio of 220/35 (6.29 k/bb) compared to Kershaw’s 248/54 (4.59 k/bb). If one is just looking at ratio, Doc runs away with it. But, if you look at it another way, Kershaw’s differential of strikeouts to walks was 194; Halladay’s was 185. Whose line would you take? Call this a wash.

WHIP and Batting Average Against: Kershaw rates a big edge over Halladay in BAA (.207 to .239). Doc’s better control mitigates this slightly, but Kershaw still gives up fewer hits and walks per innings pitched (0.98 to 1.04) than Doc.

Win/Loss and ERA: Again, this goes to Kershaw (21-5, 2.26 to Halladay’s 19-6, 2,35). And while neither stat is the be-all and end-all for pitchers, one would be a fool to discount either completely. To me, this is still the starting point for pitchers before examining other stats. (And yes, I supported Felix Hernandez for the AL CYA last year, despite his pedestrian 13-12 record),

Doc’s supporters—and trust me, I am a huge fan of the guy—may point to the fact that the Phillies were 24-8 in games that he started, and the Dodgers were 23-10 when Kershaw toed the rubber. Point well taken, but consider this.

When Halladay did not start, the Phillies still were 78-52 (.600). When Kershaw did not start, the Dodgers were 59-69 (.460).

Taking everything into consideration, as terrific as Doc was, Kershaw was clearly a notch above.

If Doc wins the award, it will be a chance for Phillies Nation to celebrate and once again salute a great pitcher who is the ultimate stand-up guy.

The Phillies fan in me will applaud the selection; the baseball fan in me will applaud even louder if Kershaw brings home the hardware.

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