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Ryan Craig

Greinke should win AL Cy Young

Posted September 23, 2009

Every year around this time we begin to discuss the candidacies of several Cy Young and MVP contenders, and this season is no different.

The NL MVP was wrapped up by Albert Pujols before Easter, and the engraver for the AL version should already be double-checking the spelling of the word “Mauer.”

As for the Cy Young awards, that’s a different story.

With guys like Tim Lincecum, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter all on contending teams in the National League, the race is tighter than a Drew Brees spiral. In the AL, there is a guy on a non-contending team that in my opinion is lapping the field.

That man is Zack Greinke.

Greinke likely won’t end up with the league lead in wins and he most certainly won’t lead his team to the World Series, the playoffs, or even a .500 record.

Instead, he is putting together one of the best pitching seasons nobody will ever remember.

At 15-8, his win total seems modest - after all, 20 wins has been and will continue to be the benchmark for pitching greatness in any one year.

But when it comes to pitching, wins can actually be one of the game's most misleading statistics.

Pitchers that play for high powered offenses can often still win games even when they aren’t throwing their best simply because their team can outscore its opponent.

C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees – one of Greinke’s main competitors for this year award - for instance, has won six games in which he gave up three earned runs or more. Greinke, on the other hand, has lost three games in which he gave up two runs or less.

Greinke has eight no decisions this year – his ERA in those contests? Less than 2.00.

If he’s on the Yankees or Red Sox, chances are he wins at least three-quarters of those games - add six to his current total, and he’s already at 21 with two starts left to add to the total.

Sure, he won’t be able to say he led his team to the postseason, but it’s not like Greinke didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Against the teams that will likely make the playoffs in the AL this year - the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Angels – the former sixth-overall pick in the 2002 draft has allowed a ridiculous five earned runs in 58 innings.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander leads the league in ERA, WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched), shutouts, and home runs per nine innings, and he’s second in the AL in strikeouts and complete games.

The sixth-year pro is consistent, durable, and most importantly, equipped with nasty stuff.

He’s an ace, so he goes against every other team’s number one, and he does it every five days knowing that no matter what he does, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Starting pitchers on contending teams have a fan base, coaching staff and dugout full of players keeping them psyched for the possibility of a World Championship.

It’s harder to go out to the mound from mid-June on knowing there is nothing to play for other than pride and a paycheck, and yet there Greinke is, as reliable as his face looks young.

Felix Hernandez, the player with the league's second-best pitching resume, has ERA and WHIP numbers that are at least in the same realm as Greinke (though both are worse), but he’s walked 24 more batters while striking out 28 less.

Greinke and his team have already lost 88 times this year - this is one contest he should win.


 

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