By any measure, it's been a pathetic season for the Seattle Mariners.
Manager fired; front office turmoil; angry anti-media email from the CEO leaked to the press; 3,452 losses in a 162 game season. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Out of this filth and squalor one pitcher has managed to be consistently dominant, consistently mesmerizing throughout the Seattle Mariners 2010 Major League Baseball season. That man, of course, is Mariners ace King Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez has rightfully found his name inserted into the American League Cy Young conversation and his case, despite an ugly won/loss record, is strong.
Johnette Howard lays it out in a special piece for ESPN.com in stunning detail.
Because what King Felix's advocates have to persuade voters to do is ignore wins more than ever and value things like this: After Sunday's win, Hernandez ranked first in the AL in innings pitched (219.1), strikeouts (209) and quality starts (27) and he was tied for first in number of starts (30). He was second in ERA (2.30) and third in opponents' batting average (.219). Still not impressed? The more advanced argument is Hernandez either leads or sits at the top among AL starters in every meaningful sabermetric pitching stat too: first in WAR for pitchers (5.7), first in +WPA (16.67), first in Adjusted Pitching Wins (4.3), first in opponent OPS (.597), second in Adjusted ERA+ (176), third in FIP (2.96), third in xFIP (3.25), third in WHIP (1.09).
The Mariners, by far the worst offensive team in the league, are averaging 3.32 runs per game for Hernandez, the second-worst support any AL starter has gotten. In his 10 losses, they've scored just 10 runs. Sabathia, on the other hand, has had 24 starts in which the Yankees scored four or more runs, and 18 of his 19 wins came in those games, plus one loss and five no decisions.
But there's also this: The 24-year-old Hernandez wins many people's very unscientific eyeball test too. After watching Hernandez shut down the Yankees last September, Sabathia himself said he turned to Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte and said, "If I had a vote, I would vote for Hernandez. That's the best pitcher in the league to me."
The USA Today wrote at the time that the dominant performance, which lasted 7 innings, only added to Hernandez's case.
It's your move, gentlemen.
That could very well be what Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is thinking after taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning of last night's game against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers. Hernandez has built a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award, despite a record of just 12-11.
Win No. 12 was rather impressive though as Hernandez cruised through the Rangers lineup before allowing a leadoff homer toNelson Cruz in the top of the eighth. In the process, he lowered high major league-leading ERA to 2.35 and raised his season strikeout total to a major league-leading 222.
Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan writes that one of the strongest arguments for Hernandez, ironically, is just how pathetic all of his teammates are.
He is the victim of, as Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus put it, "among the hundred worst offenses of all time, the 40 worst offenses of the postwar period, and the 10 worst offenses of the last 20 years." The Mariners are historically bad at supporting their pitchers, and for all the stress Sabathia encounters pitching in a pennant race, imagine going onto the mound knowing that allowing one run might cost your team the game. In six of Hernandez's last 11 starts, the Mariners haven't scored for him.
Even if he wins his last four starts, Hernandez won't reach the magic number for Cy Young victors: 16.
For every Felix Hernandez number you could possibly want or need, Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune has you covered.
It's not just stat geeks and dorks that are Pro-Felix, however. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated writes that Major League Baseball executives are on Team Felix too.
In an SI.com survey of baseball executives that may surprise some, a clear majority interviewed suggested they would ignore Seattle wunderkind Felix Hernandez's historically low win total for a top Cy Young candidate and still make him the winner of the top pitching award.
Six out of nine top baseball execs sided with Hernandez over anyone else, including CC Sabathia and David Price, who have far more wins than Hernandez while pitching for better teams in a pennant race but possess other stats that, while very good, don't stack up to those of King Felix. Eight of the execs contacted were from the American League; six of those voted for King Felix, while Sabathia and Price got one vote apiece. The National League exec went with Sabathia.
For now, we'll give the closing word to Boston.com's Peter Abraham, who says the Cy Young simply isn't good enough for Hernandez, given how well he's pitched this year.
Forget the Cy Young, they should rename the Space Needle after him.