Gut vs. Numbers Debate: Roy Halladay a no brainer for NL Cy Young

With the regular season at its end and the playoffs now upon us, The Nats Blog begins a series that will highlight its selections for each of the leagues major awards, but there will be a twist. We have recruited the Yoder brothers (no relation) from Randall Simon’s Sausages to provide the “Gut Prospective” while we look at the numbers. Throughout baseball today there is a rift between those who give the sport the “eye” test, and those who investigate the numbers. Here we’ll try to see both sides.

Numbers View on the National League Cy Young:

The National League Cy Young race was a largely tumultuous affair. Throughout the 2010 season, a number of different hurlers appeared destined to take home the coveted award. As pitchers came and went, various leaders rose and fell, and Stephen Strasburg burst onto and subsequently departed the scene with all the magnificence of a phoenix aflame, it was the typically stoic, steadfast, and unwavering dominance of Roy Halladay that won out.

The early season favorite was an easy selection. Colorado Rockies’ ace Ubaldo Jimenez threw a no-hitter in mid-April, had a sub-1.00 ERA through June 10, and boasted a record of 17-2 on August 9. While many speculated that Jimenez had the potential to become the first 30 game winner since Denny McLain went 31-6 in 1968; however, the right-hander from the Dominican Republic fizzled down the stretch, finishing the year with a 19-8 record, 2.88 ERA, and 214 strikeouts in 221.2 innings.

In addition to Jimenez’s tremendous season, a few other outstanding pitchers separated themselves from the rest of the league. Adam Wainwright was one of the few bright spots for a Cardinals squad that succumbed to the upstart Cincinnati Reds. In 33 starts, Wainwright was 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 213 strikeouts in 230.1 innings. Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins was another standout starter, 11-6 with a 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 9.11 strikeouts per nine innings before his season ended prematurely with shoulder and back pain as he was shut down by the team on September 13. And, somewhat under the radar, Atlanta’s Tim Hudson finished the year an impressive 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA.

In the end, the clear favorite and our choice for the 2010 NL Cy Young is Halladay. The Phillies’ ace led the league in wins, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, and strikeout to walk ratio while finishing second in WHIP and third in ERA. His numbers speak for themselves: 21 wins, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 219 Ks, and 250.2 innings pitched, all with less run support per game than everyone else on this list save for Johnson. In addition, Halladay had a tremendously accurate year – ‘Doc’ walked just 30 batters in 33 starts. His fantastic statistics, coupled with the fact that not only he led his team to the best record in all of baseball but also threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history. In what has widely been declared the year of the pitcher, Halladay stands alone.

Final Rankings

1.     Roy Halladay, Philadelphia

2.     Adam Wainwright, St. Louis

3.     Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado

4.     Josh Johnson, Florida

5.     Tim Hudson, Atlanta

Honorable Mention: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Mat Latos, San Diego

“Gut” View on the National League Cy Young by Randall Simon’s Sausages

Will asked me to take this gut perspective for the MLB awards, and I have to say I feel like the visiting team here. While I get a kick out of arguing with him about the overuse of stats in baseball and mocking VORPies and VORPettes that live in their parent’s basements, I am something of a numbers guy. Hey, I was a math major in college after all! However, I’ve always enjoyed baseball from the Ken Burns perspective and not the MIT supercomputer one, even though it’s en vogue these days. I’ve walked into this Chamber of Horrors, so I might as well go all out.

Any argument against Roy Halladay for NL Cy Young will lose. You can use your gut instinct, statistics, Ouija boards, drawing lots, guesstimation, or whatever method you will like – Roy Halladay is the right answer. In his first season in Philly, Halladay was simply awesome. 1st in the NL in Wins, 1st in IP, 2nd in Ks, and 3rd in ERA. Oh, and he pitched a perfect game this year! Halladay is the most consistently dominating pitcher in the NL and in baseball. His stuff is electric, his control is impeccable, and his tenacity is off the charts. He’s like David Eckstein with talent! (Hey, I had to throw in the Eck at some point in this series for some cheap laughs) Halladay is the one guy that you want on the mound with your life on the line. In fact, he may be the best pitcher of this generation – we just didn’t know it because he played in Toronto for so many years.

Yes, other pitchers had good statistical seasons. Ubaldo Jimenez captivated us for the first half, Josh Johnson had a great season playing in front of 300 fans every night, Tim Lincecum had another strong year, and Adam Wainwright has evolved into an elite pitcher in the last few seasons. However, none of these great pitchers can even touch Roy Halladay. Heck, Philly traded away the reigning AL Cy Young winner (Cliff Lee) in order to acquire Halladay! This is the easiest choice of the postseason awards, but I still feel like I’m missing something… hmmm… oh yea…

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Philadelphia 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 4 5 0