If anyone keeps up with this blog, they may notice that I have not posted anything about Tim Lincecum winning the Cy Young. Why haven't I written anything about it? A couple reasons, really. First, I have just been genuinely busy. The semester is wrapping up and I had things to do. Second, everyone else was covering, and I was not sure what exactly I could say about the subject. Finally, I wasn't really sure what the victory meant. I was shocked, to be honest.
After thinking about it for a while, Tim Lincecum deserved to win the Cy Young. Many around the baseball world are confused and angry about the subject. One St. Louis writer (and a blatant homer) cried about how Lincecum won the Cy Young over Carpenter and Wainwright with having only 15 wins. What? How can that be? Clearly, five years ago there was no way in heck that Lincecum could win the Cy Young with only 15 wins. In fact, Lincecum is the fist NL pitcher to do so with only so few wins.
So why does Lincy deserve the award?
Simply put, wins mean nothing when determining the value of a pitcher. Baseball fans, and especially baseball writers, need to learn this very basic fact. Wins reflect more of how a specific pitcher performs on a specific team. Let's imagine you had two pitchers of equal talent. Pitcher A plays on a team with a great offense. Pitcher B plays on a team with an anemic offense. Pitcher A would have more wins than Pitcher B. Yet, the pitchers are of the same quality. Why, therefore, is it so ingrained in MLB-lore that we use win/loss as an indicator of a pitcher's worth?
Moving away from problematic statistics like wins, ERA, and RBI and focusing on more advanced statistics like FIP, K/9, K/BB, UZR and so on allow us to better evaluate a pitcher's value on his own rather than as a pitcher on a specific team. If Lincecum played on the Los Angeles Dodgers (a terrible thought, I know) he undoubtedly would have more in the wins column.
Let's compare Lincecum, Adam Wainwright, and Chris Carpenter, the latter two who were also in the race for the Cy Young.
Tim Lincecum 15-7, 2.48 ERA, 261 SO, 1.05 WHIP, 4 CG, 225 IP, 10 K/9, 3 B/9, and 2.34 FIP.
Adam Wainright 19-8, 2.63 ERA, 212 SO, 1.21 WHIP, 1 CG, 233 IP, 8 K/9, 2 B/9, and 3.11 FIP.
Chris Carpenter 17-4, 2.24 ERA, 144 SO, 1.01 WHIP, 3 CG, 192.2 IP, 6.73 K/9, 1.78 B/9, and 2.78 FIP.
I am very happy to see baseball writers move in this direction. The way we evaluate baseball players has significantly changed, for the better, over the past ten years. It is good to see the professionals actually in the industry catching on to what baseball fans have known for decades.