Tag: Cy Young

MLB Power Rankings: The Modern Era’s 25 Best Pitching Workhorses

Can you feel that?

After months of waiting through the cold winter months and listening to nothing but trade rumors and free agent signings, the regular season is finally upon us. With some of today’s greatest starting pitchers taking the mound for the first game of their respective team’s season on Opening Day, you hear some impressive stats surrounding some of these guys.

Roy Halladay, for example, is set to make his 11th consecutive Opening Day start. The guy is more than arguably the game’s best pitcher—he’s also a workhorse.

What is a “workhorse,” you ask? Well that’s simple. It’s one of those baseball terms that get tossed around loosely and has come to mean many things over the years. Generally, when a person talks about a “workhorse,” they’re talking about a durable starting pitcher with a rubber arm and the ability to rack up innings like it’s nobody’s business.

With that in mind, I wanted to come up with a list of some of the greatest “workhorses” to ever play the game, but with any list covering a broad term and a bevy of stats, creating this type of list isn’t simple. For example, the word “workhorse” has described relievers that can make back-to-back appearances with frequency, but ranking them among the game’s elite starting pitchers just isn’t fair.

In composing the list, I had to debate a few slots and positions with myself. When you rank the greatest workhorses of all time, is it more important that these pitchers accumulated innings or had above-average success? In the end, I put a lot of emphasis on innings pitched—in both a single season and over the course of a career—and used success as more of a “tie-breaker.”

Now, let’s set up some parameters for a pitcher’s eligibility in this ranking. In the title, you’ll noticed that I’ve limited the pitchers to the “modern era.” That means that I used the year 1900 as a sharp cut-off date for the ranking. If a pitcher threw innings before 1900, he wasn’t eligible. In order to provide a sense of accomplishment for those on the list, I also cut off eligibility at 3,000 career innings pitched.

Of course, that leaves us with history’s elite pitchers. It’s hard to consider this list a “ranking,” per se, as all of these men have reserved their spot in baseball history. With that in mind, consider these 25 men as the greatest “innings eaters” to have ever played the game.

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Roy Halladay Set To Receive Some Well-Deserved Hardware

Major League Baseball begins handing out its postseason awards today with the Cy Young winners being announced on November 16.

Roy Halladay is the favorite to win the award, but could face some competition from Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and Josh Johnson of the Marlins.

Halladay was the most consistent pitcher in the National League this season, averaging 7.6 innings per start with a WHIP of just 1.04. 

However, Halladay did trail Johnson and Wainwright in ERA.


Halladay 2.44
Wainwright 2.42
Johnson 2.30


Halladay also had less strikeouts per nine innings pitched than Wainwright and Johnson, but was dominant in walks per nine innings.


  K/9 BB/9
Halladay 7.9 1.1
Wainwright 8.3 2.2
Johnson 9.1 2.4


Other interesting aspects to Halladay’s case include his perfect game.  Halladay tossed the only perfect game in the National League this season.  Ironically, the opposing pitcher that game was Josh Johnson. 

Halladay also threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in game one of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.

Halladay’s 21 wins, 250.2 innings pitched, nine complete games and four shutouts all also led the league.  He was also the only candidate from a playoff team. 

Halladay’s statistics put him in the front-running to win the award, but fans have seen some crazy things happen in years past, such as C.C. Sabathia earning the award over Johan Santana in ’05. 

All other things aside, expect Halladay to win the Cy Young the beginning of next week. 

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Roy Halladay: Is Philadelphia’s Ace the National League’s Best Pitcher?

The remaining regular season schedule is set up to allow Phillies right hander Roy Halladay at least two more starts before the Phils  begin their post season push; however , its more than likely  that tonights start against Washington will be Roy’s last before the play-offs. 

There is no question that Harry Leroy Halladay has been a work horse for Philadelphia Skipper Charlie Manuel this season, as he currently leads the National League with 241.2 innings pitched to go along with a league leading 8 complete games, so resting that arm would help to do a body good.

Tonight’s start against the Nationals could also go a long way in solidifying what should be the Phillies seventh Cy Young Award in team history; Steve Carlton, 1972, 1977, 1980 & 1982, John Denny 1983 and Steve Bedrosian 1987.

Imagine, Halladay has a chance to clinch the NL East Pennant, his 21st win of the season and perhaps seal the envelope on the Cy Young Voting.

Yes, I said it Cy Young, the award given annually to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) best pitchers, one each in the National League (NL) and American League (AL).  

Each league’s award is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, with two representatives from each team, which means 28 ballots are cast for the American League winner, and 32 ballots cast for the National League. Each voter places a vote for first, second, and third place among the pitchers of each league. The formula used to calculate the final scores is a weighted sum of the votes.  The pitcher with the highest score in each league wins the award.  If two pitchers receive the same number of votes, the award is shared. 

You would think that Halladay’s numbers would speak for themselves. A win tomorrow would give him  a league leading 21 wins, one more than Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright who by the way will also have another chance this week to win his twenty-first.

Wainwright’s  2.43 earned run average (ERA) is a scant better than Halladays  2.53, and as I write this blog both pitchers are tied for the league lead with 213 strikeouts.

Yes it’s that close.

So why should Roy win the Cy?  For Starters eight complete games verses five for Wainwright, and to date Halladay has walked only 30 batters verses Wainwrights 56.

(Insert drum roll here please) Oh yes and did I fail to mention that on a mild Miami night back on May 29, the six-foot-six, 230 pound Halladay struck out 11 Florida Marlins while on his way to recording just the 20th perfect game in MLB history.

Think about it, 135 years of baseball and only 20 perfect games. The Phillies by the way are just the fifth team to boast two perfect game pitchers in team history. Jim Bunning threw Philadelphia’s other one on June 21, 1964 vs. the Mets.

So there you have it, I have stated my case for Roy Halladay as the 2010 National League Cy Young award winner, besides that trophy would look really nice next to Halladays 2003 AL Cy Young award.

By the way if Halladay does win this year’s  award, he would join Roger Clemens, Gaylord Perry, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martínez   as the only pitchers to win the award in both leagues.

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CC Sabathia, Adam Wainwright and Cy Young

Can we really look through the historical legacy of Major League Baseball and say that out of all of the great arms that have stymied hitters for the past century that Cy Young was the greatest of them all? I, personally, don’t think so. That is completely up to debate, as is almost all things baseball, and especially the Cy Young award and how it has evolved into the most prestigious pitching award given away in the Major Leagues.

Cy Young had the most wins of any pitcher to have ever played professional baseball in the United States of America. That total would reach a gargantuan, never to be duplicated nor approached, 511. Cy Young also had the most losses of any pitcher to have ever played professional baseball in the United States of America. However, as this year’s Cy Young award is heating up to a serious debate, deservedly so, let’s look at this a little bit further. 

The pitcher with lowest career ERA in baseball’s history is Ed Walsh who posted a ridiculous 1.82 career average. To his discredit, he only won 195 games over his 14 seasons – 13 of those played with the White Sox. Addie Joss is second with a 1.88 career ERA that he posted over 9 seasons playing in Cleveland. He only won 160 games. 

Now if we were to take this debate a bit further and look at only those pitchers that won 300 plus games and looked at their statistical careers in comparison to that of Cy Young’s, we might consider changing the name of the award. 

The top 3 positions in wins are Cy Young, Walter Johnson (417), Pete Alexander (373) and Christy Mathewson (373). Before I go further, I am in no way trying to diminish what Cy Young did as a pitcher because it is truly a remarkable thing, and … I’m biased toward guys who played for Cleveland, anyway. (wink, wink). 

However, if we look into this a bit, we find that Cy Young had a career 2.63 ERA. Great by any standard that you can produce because that’s still giving up less than 3 runs per game and even some of our contemporary greats were not as brilliant. For instance, Greg Madduxs’ career ERA is 3.16; Roger Clemens, 3.12; Tom Glavine, 3.54; Randy Johnson, 3.29. Each of these men, as you know, one over 300 games. So, Cy Young’s 2.63 career earned run average is still statistically superior than most. 

But, his career ERA is not statistically superior to either Walter Johnson (2.17), Christy Mathewson (2.13), or Pete Alexander (2.54). How about career walk/hits per innings pitched? Cy Young posted a career WHIP of 1.13, higher than Johnson (1.06), Mathewson (1.06) and Alexander (1.12). 

Strikeouts? Walter leads all four of these gentlemen with a very respectable 3509, with Cy Young a distant second with 2803. I say a “distant second” because Cy Young pitched 149 more games than Johnson. 

Another stat that I think is pretty telling is that Walter Johnson also holds the record for the most career shutouts with 110, directly ahead of Alexander (90), Mathewson (79) and Young (76). Conversely, Walter had the lowest winning percentage of the four (.599), while Mathewson had the highest (.665)

King Felix Hernandez deserves the Cy Young award solely on what he was able to do with limited run support on a Seattle Mariners team that was supposed to be much better than they showed this year. However, let’s be clear. Using the criteria that I stated above, the Cy Young award is clearly about winning. Because outside of innings pitched, batters faced, games started and complete games … Cy Young was statistically inferior to the other aforementioned greats. 

We could go throughout history and find many times when pitchers had statistically superior years to pitchers and lost because they did not have as many wins. However, if it is called the  Cy Young award then it is clearly about winning because that was the area of his superiority. 

This is why CC Sabathia deserves the award. But, not only does he deserve the award because he has the most wins, and good statistics, but he has clearly been the ace and anchor of a pitching staff that has been suspect most of the year in New York. Furthermore, he has pitched in high pressure games in a tight pennant race the entire season, whereas Seattle has just been … well … playing. 

It does not need to be pointed out that Felix leads in all other categories besides runs, but, the fact remains … he plays for a really bad team that has not scored runs and it would seem ridiculous to give the award to a guy who may win 13-14 games, instead of a guy who may end up with 21-22 wins, that has pitched well all season. 

Also, moving onto the National League, why is Adam Wainwright considered a dark horse candidate to Roy Halladay, when they both have 20 wins, plus very close statistics. Do I sense a little Roy Halladay favoritism? Let’s take a look. 

Wainwright’s statistics: 20-11, 2.42 ERA, 230 innings, 1.05 WHIP, 230 strikeouts, .224 BAA, 5 complete games and 2 shutouts.

Roy Halladay? 20-10, 2.53 ERA, 241.2 innings, 1.07 WHIP, 213 strikeouts, .250 BAA, 8 complete games and 3 shutouts. 

I’d say that they are pretty even, but Roy has the one-up on Wainwright in the fact that he threw one of 2 perfect games this season. 

Why is all of this important? CC had the most wins in the American League last season, as did Wainwright in the National League. Not only did they have the most wins, they went to the post-season and had solid statistical seasons. But, they lost out to two guys who had better numbers, and less wins (Greinke had 16, while Lincecum had 15). 

I like statistics as much as the next guy. I can look at www.baseball-reference.com all day long and get lost in looking at the history of the game and the men that made it great.

But, the fact still remains when it comes to the Cy Young award; it’s about winning … plain and simple.

It is not the Christy Mathewson award, although you could argue for it. It is not the Walter Johnson award, although I would be the guy arguing for that. It is the Cy Young Award, named after the pitcher with the most wins in baseball’s lustrous history.

It would be a shame for a 20+ game winner to lose to a guy with less than 15 wins because he had better numbers. 

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Felix Hernandez Should NOT Win the 2010 Cy Young, but Neither Should CC Sabathia

A lot of noise has been made in the sabermetrics community stating that Felix Hernandez should win the 2010 Cy Young Award.

While most of the arguments are rational and valid, they tend to be shortsighted, comparing King Felix to only CC Sabathia.

Advanced metrics and statistical analysis show that while Felix has won only 12 games while losing 11, he’s actually pitched much better than Sabathia this season.

Felix boasts strikeout rates, walk rates, home run rates, ground ball rates, and accumulated Wins Above Replacement (WAR) that are all superior to that of Sabathia.

Each has been a dependable workhorse, pitching well over 200 innings this season. However, writer perception, combined with a Zack Greinke victory in award voting last year, which he won out from under Felix Hernandez, has spawned a pretty heated debate, where perhaps some people who were chanting Felix’s name last year are now again in his corner, but for completely opposite reasons.

However, the season that Greinke had last year was very special by all measures. His nine WAR were the best by a pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s 10.1 WAR season in 2000, a season often considered to be the most impressive by any pitcher ever considering the hitting environment in which it was pitched.

Greinke posted a FIP of 2.33 and an ERA of 2.16 on a Royals team that played pretty bad defense. He won 16 games while losing only eight and led the league in strikeouts. So while the league eschewed three wins for each of Hernandez, Justin Verlander, and Sabathia, they didn’t completely diverge from accumulation statistics or conventional metrics.

The reality is that while once again Felix has been impressive, even more impressive than his amazing 2009 season, he still falls to second-best in terms of peripheral statistics, especially when combined with conventional measures.

R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs wrote about the guy that should truly win, Francisco Liriano.

Liriano is 14-7 with a 3.28 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 178.1 innings. While Felix tops all of those numbers in terms of total count, Liriano has the King beat in most rate stats. Liriano has more strikeouts per nine innings pitched, a lower FIP, a higher ground-ball rate, and has given up only four home runs this season, good for 0.20 per nine innings.

Most impressively, however, is that Liriano has managed to accumulate 6.3 WAR in about 55 fewer innings than it has taken Hernandez to accumulate 6.1. Liriano has four less starts and is averaging close to an inning less per start, but when he’s been on the mound, he’s been significantly more effective.

That’s not to take away from Hernandez, who has had yet another tremendous year, but if he’s given the Cy Young Award, it will truly be a multi-year award, as once again Felix has been the second-best pitcher in the American League by most contemporary measures, as well as the most traditional.

As much as Sabathia’s 20 wins (and counting) will help his case with the most dusty, closed-minded voters, Liriano may be hurt by not reaching a similar plateau. David Cone is the only starting pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award without pitching at least 200 innings, which he did in the strike-shortened 1994 season.

The lowest inning count for a full-season starting pitcher American League Cy Young Award winner was 213.1, done by Pedro Martinez in 1999. He also won the award with 217 innings in 2000. Each of those seasons he won the award unanimously after posting two of the best modern-era pitching seasons ever.

ZiPS projects that Liriano will receive two more starts (and a relief appearance) before the end of the season for only 15 innings. That would put him at 193 innings for the season, a full 20 innings behind Pedro Martinez’s 1999 mark.

But while a low inning count may hurt Liriano, it seems like a much easier argument to make. While several closers have won the award, there have been a couple of National League winners to win the award, even pre-sabermetrics, without 200 innings or a recorded save.

In 1981, another strike-shortened season, Fernando Valenzuela won the Cy Young Award with 192.1 innings pitched in a season where the Dodgers played only 110 games.

1984 may be the best argument, however, for Liriano’s candidacy in 2010. In a full season, Rick Sutcliffe pitched only 20 games for 150.1 innings. He won the award unanimously but also boasted a 16-1 record. Sutcliffe benefitted from an ERA before advanced statistical analysis, as his 10th-place ranking in WAR that season (3.7 WAR) would hardly fly in 2010.

Either way, the reality is that Sabathia will probably win, but if he doesn’t, Liriano should be the guy, as he better fulfills the combined criteria of both traditional and contemporary metrics.


Check out more articles about Seattle sports at North and South of Royal Brougham.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking Perfection: Top Five Perfect Game Pitchers of All-Time

In light of Roy Halladay’s recent perfect game, I decided it would be interesting to rank the top five pitchers of all time. The catch: they must have breathed in the rarified air of the perfect game.

So Nolan Ryan out…uh, Dallas Braden in?

There have only been 20 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball. This does limit my options for these rankings somewhat, but also should be an indication of how incredibly difficult it is to throw nine innings of perfection.

By definition, it is impossible to compare perfect items. Keep in mind that this is a ranking of the best pitchers of all time who pitched a perfect game, not a ranking of the best perfect games.

If I were attempting that, Braden’s “Stick It, A-Rod”” game may have made it. Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series would have easily topped the list.

Disclaimers: Credit goes to www.baseball-reference.com for the pitcher stats and www.wikipedia.com for the list of perfect game pitchers and backstories.

All photos used on this slideshow that weren’t directly made available by Bleacher Report are not, to the best of my knowledge, subject to copyright restrictions.

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