Cy Young

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I have no idea why, but many baseball people think the most important statistic in determining who is the best pitcher. Winning is a function of a team effort, and alone is a poor determinant of best picher.

Case in point: in 1990, Bob Welch got 27 wins for the Oakland A's, an absurd amount of wins. He had a great year all around. But the reason he got 27 wins was not because he had a great year; he had a great year because he was, statistically speaking, the third luckiest pitcher since WWII. By that, I mean that he won because his relief pitchers and hitters won the games for him. If you give him a league average bullpen and batters, his .816 winning percentage would have been .589.

Contrast to Roger Clemens that year, who was better than Welch in every major category: fewer hits, earned runs, home runs, walks per inning pitched, and more strikeouts. In fact, his 1.93 ERA (vs. Welch's 2.95 -- yes, more than one run per 9 inning game difference) was the best of Clemens' storied career. The only thing Welch had better was the wins (27-6 vs. 21-6).

There is simply no doubt that Clemens was the best pitcher in the American League that year. But Welch won, because he had more wins, which he had because his team was better than Clemens' team, not because he was a better pitcher.

And now we are seeing similar injustice. Pedro Martinez has a 14-4 record, compared to frontrunner Roy Halladay's 21-7. Pedro has a better winning percentage (unlike Clemens vs. Welch) -- second best in the league -- and leads the league down the line in terms of hits, ERA, strikeouts, and strikeouts per walk. But Pedro has suffered from a terrible bullpen, the worst in Boston in many years. He has 10 no decisions -- unheard of for him -- which includes 3 blown saves, and 3 with no run support (where he gave up only 1 run through 7 or more innings).

Halladay has not been the victim of any blown saves, and has only once had a no decision in a game where he gave up only one run through 7 or more innings: when he took a 1-run tie with the Red Sox into the ninth.

If you give those pitchers those wins, now Pedro is 20-4 and Halladay is 22-7, and Pedro is the frontrunner.

Of course, you can't just do that, you can't just give a pitcher wins. But the point is that pitchers do not determine wins, teams do. This is a team sport. But the purpose of the Cy Young award is to find the best pitcher. In 1990, that was clearly Roger Clemens. This year, it is clearly Pedro Martinez.

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