Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Webb of Lies

Since it's November and, you know, they have to, Major League Baseball decided to hand out the National League Cy Young Award today.

Your winner? Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks, he of the 16-8 record and 3.10 ERA. Oh, and that also means that the D-backs can lay claim to 5 Cy Young Awards in their 9 years of existence.

In a down year for, well, pretty much the entire senior circuit, the Sinkerball-slingin' Southerner beat out Trevor Hoffman, Chris Carpenter and Roy Oswalt.

While the San Diego Padres have never had a no-hitter, they do boast three Cy Young winners in their illustrious - umm, dubious? - history, including the most losses ever for a Cy Young winner*:

Randy Jones in 1976 (22-14*, 2.74 ERA)
Gaylord Perry in 1978 (21-6, 2.73 ERA)
Mark Davis in 1989 (44 sv, 1.85 ERA)

Should Hoffman have been the fourth?

While the debate centering on the importance of a starter vs. a reliever is one that many, many baseball geeks have indulged in (yes, I'm guilty), it appears that the trend of using more relievers is being reflected in the winners of the Cy Young. And you can't blame the relievers - the Cy Young should go to the best pitcher, not the people that have thrown the most innings. When the fabric of the game takes you in a certain direction, you need to reward those who do their jobs.

Mike Marshall was the first reliever to win it in 1974 (NL); then Sparky Lyle in 1977 (AL); Bruce Sutter in 1979 (NL); Rollie Fingers in 1981 (AL); Willie Hernandez in 1984 (AL - plus the MVP award); Steve Bedrosian in 1987 (NL); Davis in '89 (NL); Dennis Eckersley in 1992 (AL); and Eric Gagne in 2003 (NL).

Although there was a decade-long gap from 1992 to 2003, for a while it was a lock that every two or three years, a reliever (OK, a closer) would win the Cy Young. They gave the first one out in 1956, and they didn't start giving one out for each league until 1967. Still, a starter won the first 25 awards (only counting the Cuellar/McClain tie in 1969 once). Then, for roughly the next 20 years, a reliever would win one out of every five or six.

Basically, a reliever was due. And that reliever was Trevor Hoffman.

Everybody will remember the blown save in the All-Star game. But look how much that mattered - the Tigers didn't even get home for Game 6, let alone Game 7.

Remarkably, Hoffy had a better K/9 ratio than Webb (7.14 to 6.82). He also had: a better WHIP (.97 to 1.13); a better K/BB ratio (3.85 to 3.56); a far better OPS allowed (.566 to .647); and a better ERA (2.14 to 3.10).

Cancelling out October, in which they both did terribly (albeit in limited action - not counting the playoffs, where Hoffman got a save in his - ugh - only appearance), Webb had two pretty bad months: June and August, where he was a combined 2-4 with an ERA over five. Hoffman, on the other hand, only struggled in July, where his ERA was near six and he blew 3 of his 5 saves.

And did I mention that the Padres won the division over - ahem - Arizona?

Yeah, Hoffman's monster 1998 season was better (53 saves, one blown, 1.48 ERA), but the Padres were a much better team that year (98 wins and NL champs before being steamrolled by the Yankees, one of the greatest teams of all-time). And Tom Glavine had a pretty solid year in '98, too. For all his accomplishments, including breaking Lee Smith's record for most career saves, it seems like Hoffy should've been rewarded at some point for his outstanding consistency.

This year should've been that year.


Anonymous said...

Trevor Hoffman, second in Cy Young voting: 0-2, 2.14 ERA, 63 IP, 50 K (7.14 K/9), 13 BB (1.86 BB/9), 6 HR (.85 HR/9), 46 saves.

Takashi Saito, reciever of one third place vote: 6-2, 2.07 ERA, 78.3 IP, 107 K (12.29 K/9), 23 BB (2.64 BB/9), 3 HR (.34 HR/9), 24 saves.

Anonymous said...

Why Hoffman and not Billy Wagner. I dont have the stats in front of me, but they had pretty similar years

Chris said...

And he pitched about 170 less innings than Webb.

Anonymous said...

Nope, can't agree w/ Hoffman. He only pitched 63 innings, and the Cy Young to a reliever should be reserved for those years where there's a Gagne type performance from a few years back. Oswalt, I felt, should have gotten it.

PL said...


Hoffman never deserved any votes, again the voters are way off base....*sigh*

The best NL relievers, in order:
1. T. Saito
2. C. Meredith
3. G. Geary
4. J. Broxton
5. B. Wagner
6. D. Wheeler
7. T. Hoffman.

Anonymous said...

Judging by the numbers, I'd say it was a shame that Hoffman received even a single third-place vote. He was nowhere close to being one of the best three pitchers in the league, starter or reliever. His high finish only served to skew the results among the deserving candidates.