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Here were my top 3 for NL Cy Young

11/19/2009

My NL Cy Young ballot was

1. Tim Lincecum

2. Javier Vazquez

3. Adam Wainwright

Lincecum was a no-brainer, and it's disappointing to see that a majority of voters on the award whiffed on the easiest part of the three-part question. Lincecum led the NL in FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and WAR (Wins Above Replacement), both of which normalize a pitcher's stats to account for the help he received from his defense, and he led both categories by wide margins. He also led the NL in VORP, which adjusts for park but not for defense, by a narrow margin. I understand that many voters are uncomfortable with these advanced stats, but Lincecum also finished second in the NL in (unadjusted) ERA, but threw 36 more innings than the guy in front of him, Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter's innings total was the main reason he ended up off my ballot. He pitched extremely well when on the mound, but not well enough to close the value gap between him and the three pitchers I listed, each of whom threw at least 27 innings more than Carpenter. Both Carpenter and Wainwright received significant help from their defense, while neither Lincecum nor Vazquez could say the same.

As for Vazquez, he ranked ahead of Wainwright in the advanced metrics anyway, but I also gave him extra credit for pitching in the most difficult division in the NL, one in which he had to face two great offenses and only one patsy.

As for the win total of each pitcher: I ignored that, because, as I've said for years, it tells us nothing useful about how well the pitcher performed.