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What if we ignore Scherzer's 19-1?

Duane Burleson

Maybe you don't care about such ephemeral things as BBWAA-sponsored baseball awards.

If so, you've got my admiration. They are silly things, really. But I do care, largely because the history of these things is both extensive and illuminating. And most of us, I think, do want to see deserving candidates win the awards. "Deserving" by our lights, that is.

So who deserves the American League Cy Young Award this season? Well, it's tricky, as Tango points out:

Felix and Scherzer have very similar stat lines except for the hits allowed. Felix has given up 42 more hits. And in spite of that, they’ve been given up the same number of runs.


Does it matter that Felix had to work harder to get to the same end result as Scherzer?

First one to say "W/L" gets an automatic one week ban.

Which led to this:

Yes, except the runs are the same. I mean, literally the same; both pitchers have given up 54 earned runs. Oh, but what about the RUNS? Because unearned runs count too!

Well, those are virtually the same: four unearned runs for the King, two for the Max.

Hernández does have the slightly better earned-run average, because he's pitched about six more innings than Scherzer. And that'll actually be something like a 13-inning edge Wednesday afternoon, when Hernández pitches against the Rangers ... until Scherzer pitches Thursday against the Athletics.

Tango points out that the only obvious difference -- W/L aside, that is -- between Hernández and Scherzer is that Hernández has given up a lot more hits than Scherzer. But you can't really hold that against him, because a) the difference between their hits allowed is due largely to luck, and b) all those hits obviously haven't hurt Hernández, who's actually got the slightly lower ERA.

So how does one choose between them, if one has to choose between them? Yes, the voters are going to choose Scherzer because of the wins (a ton) and the losses (nearly zero). Which makes this whole thing completely academic, because only a complete collapse will keep Scherzer from winning the award.

Academically, though ... who gets your vote? Well, we can look at quality of opponents. Hernández wins that one, because the hitters he's faced have combined for a 750 OPS, Scherzer just 730. Is that a significant difference? Maybe not, but we're just looking for tiebreakers here. And the ballparks ... If Hernández wins the ballparks, he'll have two tiebreakers and suddenly this start's looking pretty easy, right?

He doesn't win the ballparks. Even with the left-field fence pulled in this season, Safeco Field is still playing like a pitcher's park. Meanwhile Comerica Park is playing like a hitter's park. This tiebreaker goes to Scherzer and it doesn't seem real close.

What am I missing? I don't really know. Once we've got walks and strikeouts and home runs and runs allowed and park effects and quality of competition, what's left? Does Hernández's clutch pitching trump Scherzer's hit-limiting? Neither of which are actual abilities, as far as we know? Do we give Scherzer just a tiny smidgeon of extra credit for pitching for a team that's fighting for a division title? Do we give Scherzer a bit of extra credit for pitching with (probably) the lesser defense behind him?

It seems to me that it's basically a tie, but that most of the tiebreakers do fall in Scherzer's column. I think we can reasonably vote for him even without looking at W/L at all. Which, if he keeps pitching like he's been pitching, means we get to write a lot fewer columns in November ripping the voters.

For this award, anyway.