Even though the IBWAA awards really do not amount to much, I take my voting responsibilities seriously. So when it came time to cast my vote for NL Cy Young (although I do not think we are allowed to call it that!), I had to go with my conscience and not place Jacob deGrom at the top.
Back in 2010, I was angry that Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young with a 13-12 record and a league-leading 2.27 ERA. My headline said “ridiculous” — that a pitcher with barely a .500 record would win the top prize over pitchers with more than 20 wins to go along with very respectable ERAs.
It is eight years later and I still feel the same way.
As the season progressed and we could all see what was going to happen, I thought about my eventual vote. And I decided deGrom’s ERA would have to be historic to make up for the poor win-loss record.
Now, Jacob deGrom’s ERA was arguably historic; it was the sixth lowest since the pitching mounds were lowered after that crazy 1968 season. But six other pitchers had ERAs in the 1.7s since then. For me to vote for deGrom, it would have had to be really historic, in the 1.5s preferably. That would have made up for the lack of wins for me.
Ah wins, the unimportant statistic according to the sabermetrics bunch. I get the argument — a pitcher can only control the balls he throws, not the ones his bullpen throws or his offense hits. So if he does his job and his teammates prevent him from getting a win, it shouldn’t matter.
But it does matter, to me. anyway. And while it doesn’t matter to many writers and fans, it does matter to the most important person involved in this — pitchers. You think Cliff Lee was happy with his 2012 season in which he pitched to a solid 3.16 ERA but only went 6-9? He wasn’t. And while I’m sure deGrom is pleased with his miniscule ERA, looking at that record must rankle him.
There is another issue here that no one talks about. If a pitcher really wants to accumulate wins, he needs to stay in the game. Don’t throw six or seven innings and then leave things to your unreliable relievers. While deGrom suffered from lack of offensive support, the Mets bullpen cost him a few wins as well. More durable pitchers tend to get the wins (although deGrom was second in the league with 217 innings pitched, 3.2 behind Max Scherzer). But that pales in comparison with the 300+ innings starters routinely used to throw, which is why wins are down. But I guess the game has changed.
And maybe that undermines my entire argument. If the game has changed, shouldn’t the way we look at stats change? Maybe, but come on, 10-9? Give me 15-10, at least. It doesn’t have to be 20 wins, but give me something to work with here!
I like a pitcher with a strong overall stat line — a good amount of wins and strikeouts and a low ERA. He doesn’t even have to lead the league in any categories as long as he has excellent numbers overall. Both Scherzer and Aaron Nola fit into this category, which is why I placed then both above deGrom. I had Scherzer on top; after all, the guy did strike out 300 batters, an impressive feat indeed.
But before you get mad at me, I know I am a dinosaur. And besides, deGrom will almost certainly win the Cy Young, if only so the writers can make their statement that wins are meaningless. And I won’t be too angry about it; after all, Jacob deGrom is a Met (not to mention the other two guys pitch for the hated Nationals and Phillies). But this is how I view the game, and I will stick by my principles regardless of uniform. Now get off my lawn!