With pitchers such as Justin Verlander, Jared Weaver, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer in the AL, it was hard to choose just two players to be part of this debate. There are many great pitchers in the AL, but Felix Hernandez and David Price are better then all of them. But who’s the better of the two? Read below to find out.
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[one_half] By: Phil Watson
This is a fairly easy case to make for Hernandez. Whereas the Most Valuable Player award is often contingent upon how well a player’s team does during the season, the Cy Young Award carries no such caveat; instead, it is to be awarded to the best pitcher in the league. Period.
King Felix has been very good for a mediocre Mariner team … again. His ERA is 2.85 (fifth best in the American League). His WHIP of 1.10 is fourth behind Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, Chris Sale of the White Sox and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels. He’s fourth in the AL in strikeouts, as well, trailing only Max Scherzer of the Tigers, Verlander and Yu Darvish. Opponents are hitting just .229 against Hernandez this year, the sixth best mark in the league.
His five shutouts are the most in the American League and the most in the AL this century. The last time an AL pitcher recorded as many as five shutouts in a single season was 1998, when David Wells of the New York Yankees turned the trick.
Since the All-Star break, Hernandez has been nearly unhittable. Besides authoring the first perfect game in Mariners’ history on Aug. 15, Hernandez has a 2.01 ERA since the All-Star game with a microscopic 0.86 WHIP while holding opposing hitters to a paltry .197 average.
In 85 innings post-break, Hernandez has issued just 14 walks while fanning 67 and pitched four shutouts in a span of just 11 starts while going 7-2.
Yes, this is the first time I’ve mentioned wins in this piece because wins, for years, have been vastly overrated while evaluating modern pitchers. When starters were completing 25-30 starts a year a couple of generations ago, wins were a slightly better metric but even so were very dependent upon how a pitcher’s team performed.
There are other candidates in 2012 with more wins. Price, for instance, is 17-5 with the Rays. But given that Tampa Bay is in a pennant race and the Mariners are below .500, doesn’t it make sense that Price would have more wins? The same could be said for most of the other pitchers ahead of Hernandez’ 13 wins.
That would be Weaver, Texas Rangers lefty Matt Harrison, Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox, Scherzer, Phil Hughes of the New York Yankees and Yu Darvish of the Rangers.
Are you really going to try to convince me that Darvish, with his 1.37 WHIP and 4.29 ERA, has been a better pitcher in 2012 than Hernandez? Or that Hughes is, with the 33 home runs he’s given up this season?
For the record, 54 pitchers in the American League have surrendered more gopher balls than Hernandez’ 12, including nine with less than 100 innings pitched. While Safeco Field is not a home run haven, the AL is chock full of launching pads, including Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, U.S. Cellular Field and the Ballpark in Arlington.
It’s also worth pointing out, however, that Hernandez has had significant value to the Mariners’ resurgence since the All-Star break. While King Felix has been amazing since the break, the Mariners are 31-21 since the Midsummer Classic.
While it’s too late for Seattle to climb back into contention this season, that shouldn’t penalize Hernandez. He’s fit the very definition of a Cy Young winner. He’s been the best pitcher in the American League in 2012.
[one_half_last] By: Jake Dal Porto
There are few southpaws who are better than David Price. On a larger scale, there are few pitchers better than Price. After enduring a down year last season (12-13, 3.49 ERA), he has established himself as a Cy Young contender this year.
Here’s why he should win the A.L Cy Young award:
Price has all the Cy Young attributes. He has the strikeouts, he has the wins, and he has the ERA. The voters don’t delve much deeper than those three basic categories. So, if the stats aren’t lying, Price should win the honor.
The hard-throwing left hander owns an American League leading 2.54 ERA. Also, he leads the A.L in wins, and is seventh in the K/9 department with a shattering 8.72/9 average. Without out all the fluff, he has assembled a very good portfolio.
However, he isn’t the only one competing in the race for the hardware, obviously. But his case only gets better as you stack him up with the other worthy candidates.
Justin Verlander, the current favorite, only boasts two edges over Price. The first one being is the fact that he’s pitched nearly 30 more innings than Tampa Bay’s ace. Granted, it’s a good edge to have, but in retrospect, it’s definitely not a deal breaker.
Secondly, Verlander has racked more than 30 strikeouts than Price, good enough for a 9.0K/9 rate. On the surface he has outwork Price. But you have to take into account that he’s also made two more starts than his fellow competitor. So you would have to think that they would be about even in the innings pitched department and strikeouts department if they had each started 29 games.
The other competitor resides in Seattle. And of course, it’s King Felix, or more formally known as Felix Hernandez. Unlike Price and Verlander, Hernandez can pad his Cy Young case with a sparkly perfect game. It just makes his portfolio look that much better, though one great game doesn’t automatically earn him the coveted award.
However, King Felix has much more to his name than just a perfect game.
He leads the majors with five shutouts. Only 20 other players have accomplished that feat before. Naturally, this puts him amongst the leaders in innings pitched with 208.2. His strikeout numbers aren’t as gaudy as Prices, as he owns an 8.41/9 rate. Considering that Price has made two less starts than Hernandez as well, gives him the edge in this situation too.
Price and his average 95.6 MPH fastball, yes that leads the A.L too, deserves the Cy Young award. Sometimes, people see the separation in innings between him and Verlander, and assume that he’s not an innings eater. Dive deeper and that’s far from the truth.
He has the wins, he has the shiny ERA, and he has the strikeout rate, the only thing that he doesn’t own is the actual Cy Young award.
That should be changing soon enough.
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