You know how I feel? I feel like you do when you see someone knock a glass of grape juice off of a table and it’s going to hit the carpet and you can see it
but you know that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to react in time to do anything about it. You know that feeling? Well, that’s how the Cardinals make me feel right now. As they slowly crawl their way to mathematical elimination by the Reds, that is exactly how I feel. Like I can see it happening, but I can’t do one thing about it. Anybody else know what I’m talking about? No? Just me? Ok, then.
Oh and for the record, how in the world have 28% people voted for Ubaldo Jimenez for the NL Cy Young on mlb.com’s poll. Are you kidding me? I mean….seriously, are you kidding me? You want to vote for Halladay, fine. I can respect that. But Jimenez? 19 game winner. Great. Decent ERA and decent strikeouts. But that’s it. Decent. Not great. At least not as great as the other two horses in this race. This is 100% a toss-up between Halladay and Wainwright and it’s going to come down until probably the last day of the season, depending how many more times LaRussa struts Wainwright out to the mound.
So if you voted for Jimenez, please tell me why, ’cause I know I can’t figure it out.
19 wins doesn’t make you Cy Young,
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have given up hope on the season and have begun to look at the Cardinals chances in the big 3 individual awards. I already covered MVP and now will look at Cy Young.
The contender here for the Redbirds is Adam Wainwright. Many feel he was robbed in 2009 from the award and he definitely is putting up Cy Young caliber numbers this year. The problem is that the NL is STACKED with pitching in a year that many have called, “The Year of the Pitcher.” This is a year that has been filled with no-no’s galore, perfect games, (that’s right, plural) and all kinds of crazy pitching feats.
I personally believe that the only real competition for Wainwright is Roy Halladay. But let’s go ahead and look at a few of the dark horses that could garner some 1st or 2nd place votes. They are: Tim Hudson, Mat Latos and Ubaldo Jimenez.
First, we will compare where they stand in the traditional triple crown pitching categories.
Triple Crown Pitching
Wainwright 2.50 ERA (4th), 18 wins (1st), 199 K (4th)
Halladay 2.44 ERA (3rd), 18 wins (1st), 201 K (2nd)
Hudson 2.62 ERA (5th), 15 wins (4th), 122 K (34th)
Latos 2.43 ERA (2nd), 14 wins (7th), 174 K (11th)
Jimenez 2.75 ERA (7th), 18 wins (1st), 186 K (6th)
Wainwright and Halladay are the only two pitchers in the top 5 of all of these categories, which will probably go a long way with voters. And for those who are still obsessed with wins (I am not one of them), if one of these current 18 game winners (Waino, Halladay and Jimenez) gets to 20 wins, that might appeal to some of the voters.
Then, there are other factors that we have to look at when discussing the best pitcher this year. There’s the often-debated WHIP stat.
Wainwright 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Halladay 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Hudson 1.13 WHIP (11th)
Latos 0.99 WHIP (1st)
Jimenez 1.15 WHIP (14th)
But I think more importantly are these 3 stats. Complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. A guy that can eat up a lot of innings, while maintaining a low ERA is invaluable to a club. And this is where the five guys stack up. I call these the ‘endurance and domination categories.’
Endurance and Domination
Wainwright 5 CG, 2 SHO, 216.1 IP (2nd)
Halladay 8 CG, 3 SHO, 228.2 IP (1st)
Hudson 1 CG, 0 SHO, 203.0 IP (5th)
Latos 1 CG, 1 SHO, 166.2 IP (35th)
Jimenez 4 CG, 2 SHO, 196.1 IP (9th)
As I said before, it could come down to which guy gets to 20 wins. It’s
up for grabs. Any of these guys could have already been there and
several of them will have a few more chances to hit that mark before the
season end. I don’t think 20 wins is the end-all, be-all, but Wainwright and Halladay are ridiculous close this year. Some voters might seek to right a wrong from last year by giving Wainwright the award this year, that he finished 3rd for last year. Other votes might look at Halladay’s career and say that Doc deserves the award. It can be hard to predict.
As it stands right now, I give Halladay the award by a smidge. Right now, Halladay edges out Wainwright in ERA and strikeouts (both by the slimmest of margins) and they are tied in wins. He has pitched more innings, throwing an incredible 8 complete games, 3 of them shutouts. Thought it shouldn’t be a factor, he has also thrown a perfect game this year. Don’t think that his perfecto won’t be on the minds of some voters, when comparing two guys who are literally a hair’s breadth apart.
But that’s if the season ended today. If Wainwright could string a couple of good starts together, he could inch ahead in the race. Here’s hoping for that.
Looking for Wainwright to finish strong,
This is it. This is Adam Wainwright’s chance to show the world why he deserves the Cy Young award. His offense couldn’t back him up in his last start and so blew his chance at a league leading 18 wins. However, Jimenez also didn’t win his start, so both guys are still stuck at 17. There is no question that Wainwright is better than Jimenez, but some people are obsessed with wins, so Adam really needs to get that extra win to lead the pack by himself.
Not to mention that Roy Halladay is hot on his trail. The guy blazes through innings like it’s nothing. Every game you think he’s going to go the distance and he often does. His ERA is just behind Wainwright’s and he’s sneaking up on wins too. The only thing Halladay has on Wainwright is strikeouts. He leads there by 15. Wainwright should put a dent in that today, but let’s be realistic: he’s not striking out 15……even if it is the Pirates. How fun would that be to watch though?
A couple nights ago I watched the Rocket’s game where he struck out 20 for the 2nd time. 20 batters in a game. Wow. That’s more impressive than a no-hitter really. Yeah, for a pitcher to have a no-hitter he’s going to have to have his best stuff working, but come on….not all pitchers who have gotten a no-no really have no-hit stuff most of the time. There’s quite a bit of luck involved too. The right fielder in the right place at the right time. One blooper and it’s done. Not to take away from the accomplishment because it definitely is one. But 20 Ks? That’s all pitching right there. That’s having a slider or curve so nasty that guys aren’t even swinging. That’s having a fastball so blazing fast combined with setting hitters off balance with your changeup. And the fact that you can strike out 20 guys and still not get a no-hitter? Well, that just shows you how awesome and unpredictable baseball is. And why it’s the best game there is.
I’m getting off topic though. I’m supposed to be talking about Wainwright. If a guy was going to get 20 Ks or a no-hitter though, Wainwright would have a chance. I love watching him pitch. As long as I live, I will never forget Carlos Beltran’s knees buckle, as he failed to pull the trigger for the final out in game 7 of the NLCS to leave the bases loaded. Every Cardinal fan knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about and probably could detail where they were and how they felt when that happened.
And now that Wainwright is starting, I still get that feeling when he pitches. That he’s going to be great. Every time. That even if a runner is on 3rd with less than 2 outs, there’s a good chance he may not score. That we’re going to be in the ballgame until the very end, even when the bats are unproductive. And tonight it is set up for Adam to take home win #18. He’s pitching against a struggling Pirates offense where the Cardinals historically have done very well. He’s pitching in a week when the offense has really been clicking on all cylinders, including Albert Pujols. Pujols vs. the Pirates in the month of August? Forget about it. It’s almost not even fair.
Most importantly, the Cardinals are on a roll right now. They got incredible performances from Carp and Garcia and then a decent start out of Loshe. Nobody wants to be the guy to end that. It would also be great to see the Reds lose again. Yeah, they’ve lost a couple recently, but make no mistake; we are still 2 1/2 games behind the Reds. Yeah, it’s better than 5, but the Reds aren’t going to lay down either. At this point, every game matters.
Nothing more beautiful than a Wainwright curve,
It’s probably obvious that I love baseball. Why do I love it so much? Oh, a lot of reasons, but one reason you may not know is this: I love stats. If you read my blog long enough, you will learn this. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite baseball movie, (though Mark Newman would disagree with me….we should resurrect this debate at some point) is when Kevin Costner’s character says, “We count everything in baseball. That’s all we do” in response to his date’s surprise that he knows the exact number of times he’s lost.
But it’s a fact that baseball and numbers go hand in hand. And I love numbers when it comes to baseball. (Yet, I hate math. Ironic?) I love double situational splits and knowing who is the most productive leadoff hitter on the team. I love knowing a certain guy dominates left handed hitters or that some guys just see the ball better in the day.
But what I really love is that stats back up my gut. For instance, in my gut, I know that Wainwright is the leading candidate for Cy Young. But how do I prove it to you? You might like Roy Halladay. (If you like anybody else for the Cy Young, read this post because you are wrong.) I show you his stats. And if you’re going to disagree with me, you better come back with stats. And more stats than the fact that Ubaldo’s has 17 wins.
I also like delving into the game more with stats because it gives us something else to talk about. You can get a recap of the game anywhere, so I like to go beyond that. So if you have any ideas of things to discuss, stats-wise, just let me know.
So in my previous post, I was criticizing Holliday’s lack of production behind Albert. Most of all, his lack of production when Albert walks ahead of him. I had no idea what the numbers are, but I watch enough Cardinal games to know that when Pujols is getting walked, most of the time Holliday is making an out. But to be 100% sure, I need to go to the stats. That’s how I convince you and double check that my gut instinct is right.
So here are the numbers.
Albert Pujols has been walked 83 times this season, good enough for the second most in the NL. 28 of them have been intentional passes. 50 of his walks have been when Matt Holliday was hitting directly behind him. Of those 50 free passes, Holliday has made an out 39 times. Of the 39 outs, 23 ended the inning, 2 ended the game and only one was a productive out….an RBI sac fly.
So what did he do in his other 11 plate appearances? He singled four times, doubled once, hit 3 home runs, walked twice and was hit by a pitch once. Ironically, all 3 of those home runs were 3-run homers. Maybe the key is just getting two people on ahead of Holliday??
All this means is that when Albert gets walked directly in front of Matt, Matt’s hitting an abysmal .174. I mean, seriously? .174??? I didn’t bother looking up what other guys are hitting after Albert in those other 25 walks, but I have to believe that anything is better than .174. Personally, I would love to see Holliday hitting in front of Albert again. He gets better pitches and there’s a good chance if he can get on, at least Pujols will drive him in more times than not. Yes, taking Holliday out of the cleanup spot would mean that Pujols would get walked a little more, but is that all bad? As long as you have someone that is getting the job done from time to time, we will still get runs, not to mention Pujols RBI total going up as well.
What floors me is that LaRussa has to know this. And he is a stats guy to the extreme. If one guy hits better at 7:34 than 7:33, he won’t hesitate to pinch hit. He brings in pitchers only to face one batter. But yet he continues to let Holliday into out after out.
As I said previously, where this will really hurt us is in the playoffs. Some teams won’t hesitate to walk Pujols 4 times in the game, if they know that Holliday will make the last out. Something has to be done.
But what do you think, Cardinal fans? Am I crazy? Would it be a mistake to hit Holiday 2nd again? Or are you with me on this one? If he would hit 2nd, who should clean up? Rasmus? Yadi? Feliz? Someone else?
Trying my hand at managing,
Hey Phillips, how’s that broom taste? Victory is sweet indeed. And even sweeter when it comes on the heels of some idiotic comments by the Reds second baseman. Man, I love baseball.
Well, today’s an off-day. Normally, I hate off-days. I love watching Cardinal baseball. But today is good timing for one because I can continue to play catch up with my blog and talk about something that is driving me crazy as I read various message boards or articles that are out there.
I’m hearing a lot of people saying that Josh Johnson is the best Cy Young award candidate right now. Really? Come on. I know that wins aren’t everything (which is why Jimenez is gone from contention, in my opinion, despite the 17 wins), but Johnson with his 10 wins is only leading in ERA and it’s not by much.
In my opinion, if the award was to be handed out today, you have to go with Wainwright. Maybe I’m biased and feel free to tell me if I am, but I don’t see how you can’t make a case for Wainwright as the number 1 candidate. And honestly, number 2? Not Johnson. I would pick Roy Halladay, who is also surprisingly getting not much attention. And then Johnson would be third.
I mean what else does the guy have to do? If he didn’t have you convinced before, he’s trying everything he can now. In his last 3 starts, he has pitched 23 innings (including a complete game), gave up 1 (yes, ONE) earned run and struck out 16. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s called DOMINATION. If it wasn’t for that blasted rain delay, he’d probably have another compete game, shutout and a few more Ks.
But, it’s a year long award (as the one-hit wonder Ubaldo is finding out), not a 3 game long award. And there is more baseball left to play. Things could change over the next month and a half, but handing it out today, it’s Wainwright’s to lose. As a Cardinal fan, I love knowing that Wainwright is taking the ball. Just like I loved knowing he was closing it out in 2006. I trust him the way I have very few Cardinal pitchers in my lifetime. You just know he’s going to get the job done. Of course I will admit, that is all very subjective. I have rarely seen Johnson pitch and my observance of Halladay has been sparse as well and I see Wainwright pitch all the time. I know how he buckles knees with that big sweeping curve and gets Major Leaguers to look like little leaguers as they swing at balls in the dirt. It’s beautiful. So I have to go on stats and stats alone. And still Wainwright gets my vote.
Let’s break it down.
First, the famous “triple crown” categories for each of the contenders.
W ERA K
Jiminez 17 2.55 143
Wainwright 17 1.99 158
Halladay 14 2.34 168
Johnson 10 1.97 156
Looking at these numbers, Ubaldo Jimenez is immediately out of it. All he has going for him is his wins, most of which he got the first half of the season when he was better than he is now. His ERA and strikeouts, while good in any other context, are laughable for a Cy Young winner, when you look at the other 3 pitchers stats. Still, I include him because some people just LOVE wins and if he starts tearing up and the other 3 have a meltdown, I suppose he could have a chance.
So now you have 3 pitchers, all with very good stats. Wainwright leads in wins, Johnson with ERA and Halladay with strikeouts. When you put it like that, it looks to be a close race. But how about looking at it like this?
- Wainwright is 1st in wins, 2nd in ERA and 3rd in strikeouts
- Halladay is 3rd in wins, 4th in ERA and 1st in strikeouts
- Johnson is 14th in wins,1st in ERA and 4th in strikeouts
In my opinion, this eliminates Johnson and gives Wainwright a slight edge of Halladay. I will admit it’s close. Halladay is right there with Wainwright. Looking at other non conventional stats, such as WHIP, we see the numbers break down like this:
- Wainwright has a WHIP of 0.97 (1st in the league)
- Halladay has a WHIP of 1.03 (still good, but edged out again by Waino)
And then the numbers that very few are talking about. And if Halladay would get voted in over Wainwright, this is the only reason I could see why.
IP CG SHO
Wainwright 176.1 5 2
Halladay 185 8 3
Roy Halladay is clearly an innings eater monster, throwing 8 complete games. That’s the kind of thing that keeps your team in it for the season, saves a bullpen, etc. etc. Wainwright’s doesn’t look too shabby though. 5 complete games is nothing to sneeze at. Nobody else is even in the discussion here. If it wasn’t for LaRuss’a crazy love for the “right matchup” Wainwright probably would have a few more.
But the shutout stat is basically dead even, with a slight edge to Halladay. But combining these numbers with the previous, Wainwright gets my vote at this point in the season, not to mention when you look at things like Wainwright is undefeated when given 4 or more runs.
The question is what will happen the rest of the way. Johnson starts tomorrow and Halladay on Saturday. Let’s talk again after those starts and see where we stand.
Feel free to comment if you agree / disagree. I’d love to hear who you think I missed or overlooked. Hudson? Latos? Which boy on your team is not getting the media love?
Hoping Phillips is using his offday to realize that he’s a tool,