Saturday, November 20, 2010

MARINERS: Felix awarded AL Cy Young

Written by Mathew Carlson

After the end of the miserable 2010 season we all want to stop talking about, one of the positive aspects of this postseason is that the Mariners “brought home the hardware” so to speak. Ichiro joined an elite class of outfielders including Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Junior by winning his 10th gold glove, and Franklin Gutierrez deservedly received the first gold glove in his young career, in part by not having an error all year. Now, to put the cherry on top of all these awards and achievements, Felix Hernandez has won the American League Cy Young Award, the goal of every pitcher, which recognizes the recipient as the top pitcher in their league. He joins Randy Johnson (1995) as only the 2nd Mariner in history to receive the award.

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Hernandez, who finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting to Zack Greinke in 2009, beat out Tampa Bay’s David Price (2nd place) and C.C. Sabathia of the mighty Yankees (3rd place), nabbing the award despite just 13 victories. Sabathia, who had 21 wins, was viewed as the chief competition for Felix, and the award was judged as a battle between the player with the most wins and the player with the better overall stats. With no disrespect to Sabathia, the award went to the pitcher who deserved it the most, the player with the better stats, our own Felix Hernandez.

Let me explain something, Sabathia plays for the iconic New York Yankees. He has offensive weapons like Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada, and the infamous Alex Rodriguez. These are players that will give you plenty of runs (unless they’re facing Cliff Lee ha-ha), allowing the starting pitcher to cruise to victory as C.C. did over 20 times. In all, he could afford to make mistakes.

But Hernandez had to get all his wins the hard way.

Felix had to be almost perfect to get most of his 13 victories, by pitching deep into games, sometimes not having the luxury to even allow one run, and basically carrying the paltry offense on his shoulders. It wasn’t the King’s fault that he had just 13 wins, a total that was surpassed by 17 other pitchers, as his ballclub broke the record for the fewest runs scored in the post DH era.

If Felix Hernandez had pitched for almost any other club (except those curious Pittsburgh Pirates of course) he would have had at least 18 wins. And if he was a Yankee, which I hope never happens, he would probably have 21 or so wins. I would even go as far to say that the Yanks would have won the World Series with him toeing the rubber.

The stats speak for themselves: Felix Hernandez was the best pitcher in the Major Leagues. He was dominant as he led the majors with a 2.27 ERA that kept getting lower and lower as the season progressed. He also led in innings pitched (249.2), WHIP (1.06), and started 34 games. He had 6 complete games and a shutout, and finished second by one K for the AL Strikeout lead as well. He also became the 3rd youngest player in history to record his 1,000th strikeout. To say he finished off the year strong is a gross understatement: He had a 0.96 ERA and 80 strikeouts over his last ten starts of 2010, but still managed just a 6-3 record.

When he was first interviewed from Venezuela about him winning the award on Thursday, Hernandez said:

“I don’t have any words to explain how it feels.” and added “When I first heard [the news], my mind was like, ‘Really, really… Did I just win the Cy Young?’ And then I started crying and jumping around the house. It was a great, great, great, great, amazing thing.”

Well Mr. Hernandez, you certainly deserve it. Thank you for still providing the fans of the Seattle Mariners with your dominance and performances throughout the year, even if it was a lost cause come last July.

Reach Nathan Parsons at