Who would you rather:
Pitcher A: 64 G, 70.2 IP, 41 H, 6 BB, 77 K, 1.40 ERA, 0.665 WHIP, .165/.190/.233
Pitcher B: 76 G, 68.1 IP, 54 H, 34 BB, 77 K, 2.24 ERA, 1.288 WHIP, .216/.314/.316
Now, it’s hard to deny that both pitchers had some pretty impressive numbers in 2008. Pitcher B walked a few too many guys, and Pitcher A was pretty much lights out across the board. Would you believe me if I told you that Pitcher B garnered 32 Cy Young votes and a third-place finish in the balloting while Pitcher A received just three third-place votes?
Of course, Pitcher A saved “only” 39 games this year while Pitcher B set a new MLB record with 62 saves. For what it’s worth, those fancy statisticians over at Baseball Prospectus figure that Pitcher A, Mariano Rivera, was the top reliever in baseball this year while Pitcher B, Francisco Rodriguez, is far down the list. K-Rod was good this year, but he’s no Rivera.
With 62 saves staring at them in the face, the writers were once again misled by a largely meaningless counting stat. Yet again, the voters show that the post-season awards are purely symbolic. Cliff Lee won — and deserved — his Cy Young, but after that, the voters are just pulling names out of thing air.
Postscript: Mike Mussina received just two third-place votes for his 20-win season. While Cy Young votes for Moose would be largely symbolic, I expected him to do slightly better than that. I guess the writers would rather let saves instead of emotions get the best of them.