CYA Elections – 2017 AL

Dr. Doom here (via Doug) again with an awards-voting post. We’re switching leagues (and awards), as we vote for the Cy Young in the AL. I don’t think I’ve ever written a Cy Young post before, so here we go.

There are two clear frontrunners for the award. Let’s look first at Chris Sale. Sale paced the AL in strikeouts with 308. (When was the last time someone had 308 strikeouts in a season? It was in 2002 – a little fella named Randy Johnson.) Sale also led the league in strikeout rate – 12.9 per 9 innings, the third-highest rate in history, and placed second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.16). Sale’s 2.90 ERA and 157 ERA+ were also second ranked, while his 2.45 FIP and 214.1 IP paced the junior circuit. And, oh yeah, those traditional numbers? Sale also won 17 games, only one off the league lead.

The other strong candidate in the AL is Corey Kluber. Kluber posted an unbelievably low .869 WHIP – second lowest (behind Pedro‘s .737 in 2000) in the AL in the DH era, and a healthy .046 better than Felix Hernandez (2014) in third place. Kluber pretty much finished first or second in the league in everything: K:BB (7.36, 1st); FIP (2.50, 2nd); WHIP (.970, 2nd); walks (1.6/9, 1st); strikeouts (265, 2nd); ERA (2.25, 1st); and wins (18, first).

Of course, while there are two really strong candidates, we all have five-man ballots to fill out, so who else has an interesting case?

  • Justin Verlander split his time between two teams, but was third in the league in innings and pitched lights out down the stretch for Houston. He also led the league in starts at 34.
  • Luis Severino was third in the league in a lot of things: ERA (2.98), ERA+ (3rd), FIP (3.08), and WHIP (1.040).
  • Ervin Santana started incredibly hot and managed the league’s third-best win total (16) and 4th best ERA (3.09).
  • Carlos Carrasco tied for the league lead in wins with 18, pitched 200 innings, and ranked third in K:BB (4.91).

There are other candidates – plenty of ’em. So enjoy, and good luck sorting out who’s going where on your ballot!

DIRECTIONS: Please list 5 players on your Cy Young ballot in a NEW comment below (ballots with fewer than 5 candidates will be thrown out; I ask for a new comment because it’s easy to lose one if it’s in a reply, especially since we got rid of numbered comments). Ballots will be scored as per BBWAA scoring (7-4-3-2-1). Strategic voting is discouraged, though that’s unenforceable, so please just don’t do it, as the goal here is to (somewhat) mimic the BBWAA process. The post will be live for about a week; I will comment shortly after the post goes live to tell you when ballots are due. Please discuss and vote whenever you’d like, but there will be NO vote changes, so don’t vote until you’re sure you’re ready!

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54 Comments on "CYA Elections – 2017 AL"

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Dr. Doom
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Let’s keep this open through Monday night, 11:59. Can’t wait to read your thoughts and votes! Also, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Hartvig
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Do we vote for 3 or…?

Hartvig
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Just saw it- 5-man ballots.

ThickieDon
Guest

1. Kluber
2. Sale
3. Carrasco
4. Severino
5. Verlander

ThickieDon
Guest

Almost went with Sale because he had two more starts and more IP, but Kluber was more effective overall with 5 CGs and 3 ShOs. Kluber had more innings per start, a higher average Game Score (70 vs. 67 for Sale) and was dominant down the stretch.

e pluribus munu
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I always find seasons without 20-game winners disappointing. They are far more common than they used to be, of course, due to pitchers being pulled earlier in games. One thing I think needs to be discussed is the way Ks affect Wins in the pitch-count era. We all know high Ks mean high pitch counts. Guys like Unit and Rocket would throw up to 150 pitches in some of their starts, and they continued a high-K/high-W tradition that marked the ’60s and ’70s. But if you put a strikeout pitcher on a pitch count diet, you’re going to get a… Read more »
no statistician but
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epm: It used to be—in my mind, at least—a sign of a good starter on a good team that the team’s W/L record in his no decisions wasn’t too far off from his personal W/L record. If he was pulled in the late innings of a tied or a close game, his teammates had the firepower to take that situation as an advantage for a late inning win. In 2017, at least, this was not the case with Corey Kluber and the Tribe. Kluber’s no decisions ended up 2-5, not quite the reverse of his 18-4 record, but I’m wondering… Read more »
Doug
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Slavish adherence to pitch counts does seem a little silly when a pitcher is still seemingly in command. But, changing that approach can only happen gradually as pitchers today are conditioned to expect to be removed, so would probably not perform well if managers suddenly started leaving them in games in the late innings, much less doing so if they got into a jamb in those innings. The other factor is that managers are second-guessed to death if they leave a pitcher in too long, yet somehow escape that treatment for going to a reliever and then regretting doing so.… Read more »
Doug
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On WAR and WAA, I’ll go with Kluber as the easy winner.

1. Kluber – 8.0, 6.2
2. Verlander – 6.4, 4.5
3. Sale – 6.0, 4.1
4. Stroman – 5.8, 4.0
5. Severino – 5.3, 3.6

Carrasco (5.4, 3.6) was a virtual tie with Severino, but I’ll give the nod to the Yankee ace, with less help in the rotation and, thus, more pressure to perform.

no statistician but
Guest
Some comments on contenders: Corey Kluber looks the obvious best pitcher, but some chinks in his armor exist. He was 1.02 better in ERA at home. Only 8 of his 29 starts were vs winning teams. His stats with RISP aren’t as good of those of several contenders for the CY. Chris Sale: he was obviously held back some as far as pitching in Fenway is concerned, only 13 of 32 starts came at home. Only 9 of 32 starts vs winning teams, record 2-4. Aug/September 4-4 record with ERA over 4.00. Justin Verlander was 7-6 with a 4.16 ERA… Read more »
e pluribus munu
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I’m going to pick at a few of these points, simply because I think the issues raised are interesting ones. NSB has dug deeper to try and refine and enrich our view of these pitchers, which is precisely what a project like Doom’s invites us to do (if we can find the time and energy). My interest is in looking for cases where the added data may look different if you dig yet one level deeper still. (It’s part of a theme for me: looking at the different perspectives provided by aggregate stats and the data from game logs, play-by-play,… Read more »
no statistician but
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epm:

Did you by chance read the Bill James article on Altuve and Judge that was referenced in the thread? If there’s a starting point to any discussion here on interpreting stats it should be this article:

https://www.billjamesonline.com/judge_and_altuve/

I have never been able to get links to work at HHS, unfortunately.

no statistician but
Guest

By golly, this one worked.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I’m reading James’ article, and there is a statistical point he makes about WAR to which he infers but does not explain. He bops Judge’s WAR down from 8.1 to 6.8 because of the Yanx’ crappy pythagorean.
He says that because they won 91 instead of the expected 102, Judge’s WAR has to be docked at least 11 percent.
My question: is a team’s pythagorean a factor in how WAR is calculated, or is James taking liberties because he is James?

e pluribus munu
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As I read James, Voomo, and as I understand WAR, the pythagorean factor does not figure into WAR, but WAR calculations will correlate to the pythagorean projection, rather than to actual wins, something very different from James’s Win Shares formula.

Richard Chester
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Maybe I am missing something here but according to what Voomo said in the comment immediately above the team’s pythagorean does figure into the WAR calculation.

Dr. Doom
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Yes and no; at no point in the WAR calculation is the “Pythagorean theorem” actually calculated. Rather, the formula attempts to account for things at the level of RUNS, rather than WINS; since the Pythagorean formula and WAR are both gathering their data from runs, they correspond much more closely to one another than they do to wins at a team level. So, in a way, those who are saying the PT is used are correct, as are those who are saying that it isn’t. Your mileage may vary on how you’d prefer to think about it.

e pluribus munu
Guest
Voomo, I want to try to be a little clearer — although my lack of understanding may make that an illusion. The unique feature of James’s Win Shares system, as I recall it (and I just re-read the intro to his 15 year-old book), is that after every hitter’s batting win shares, every pitcher’s pitching win shares, and every fielder’s fielding win shares have been calculated, the figures are adjusted so that the total for all individual players on a team match the actual totals of team wins (times three, but that’s just a constant of convenience). So, most basically,… Read more »
David P
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Hi all – Haven’t had time to participate here for a while but wanted to add my thoughts to this discussion: 1) Seems to me that WAR and Win Shares are trying to answer two different questions. WAR is trying to answer the question: “How much better was Player X than a replacement level player?”, whereas Win Shares is trying to answer the question “What portion of a team’s wins was Player X responsible for?”. Part of the problem may be nomenclature. WAR might be better recast as PAR – Performance Above Replacement. 2) Win Shares has the potential to… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
David P: Wondered what happened to you, since several threads you missed here have been just your meat. What you’re saying is basically what I was planning on saying in response to epm two comments below, that not only does context supply meaning, but that in a baseball game—and in life outside baseball—every action (possibly every thought or emotion as well, but that’s a side issue here) has potential repercussions moving forward. You can’t isolate the leadoff homer from the game winning homer in the ninth, nor from what happens in between. Nor, as you argue, from what happens the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
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nsb, I don’t actually see any important divergence in our ways of thinking, so I have a hard time finding a focus of disagreement to analyze. Both of us seem to me to be pointing to the importance of sustaining awareness of the individual qualitative factors that bear on the human exercise of skill in concrete situations, which lie behind the elements that are homogenized to produce the abstract quantitative reductions we rely on for comparative assessments over the course of a 162-game season or 20-year career. I guess maybe the narrower point I’m trying to make is that while… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
This is turning into a real discussion! These are great observations, David. Let me comment on them one by one. 1) This seems to me exactly right: WAR does not actually seem to be about wins, but about deviations from norms of performance. The formula derives wins from runs, and it may be more appropriate to link the unit to runs directly (RAR). 2) As you note in (1), Win Shares is trying to do something different from WAR: it is not measuring player quality directly, it is measuring player contributions to actual winning outcomes. So the situation you envision… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Regarding the value of hitting well in blowouts vs close games, sure, those late & close numbers certainly favor Altuve, and make Judge look like a rattled rookie. But to illustrate the point made by David P above, here’s an example of Judge hitting his 2nd homer of a game, a three-run shot with the Yanx ahead 8-4: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA201705020.shtml After that, NYY used the back end of it’s pen to close it out (Layne/Holder). And the following day, after coming back from 6-0, Chapman was fresh to polish off an 8-6 win. There are too many psychological and strategic variables… Read more »
Richard Chester
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Good point Voomo.

e pluribus munu
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I agree: it is a good point, reinforcing David’s. But once we move into the way a blowout changes the calculus by shifting value from today’s game to tomorrow’s, we can’t restrict that to one team. In the case Voomo cites, while Girardi’s first thought may have been that the Yankee bullpen A-team can rest up for tomorrow, Gibbons’ first thought may have been the same for the Blue Jay bullpen, so Loup comes in instead of, say, Leone, and the net “tomorrow” value becomes the difference in predicted performance quality by a better rested Yankee bullpen A-team vs. the… Read more »
Paul E
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Voom,
To his credit, when asked what he would do if confronted with a statistic that measured everything about a player’s value, James supposedly responded, “Come up with another statistic”.

no statistician but
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epm: Re your commentary on my commentary: The remarks on Kluber were merely by way of pointing out some areas of his performance that were less that spotless, since he was so damn good generally. I do think that home/road splits are meaningful, insofar as the closer a good player comes to performing at a high level in all venues, the more admirable he is. Players whose home park is outrageously skewed one way or the other, of course, should get a partial pass in this regard. As far as the .500± comments are concerned, yeah, there were far more… Read more »
e pluribus munu
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nsb, Thanks for keeping me honest and sending me to the James link; I had not actually gone there — I read the Tangotiger Blog after visiting family went to bed over the holiday, and I couldn’t risk staying up later by checking out James. But the James post is a really important one that raises a terrific issue I’ve been wondering about for years. I read “Win Shares” when James published it and thought it was great, and I’ve never been clear on the relation between WAR and Win Shares, or why Win Shares seems no longer to be… Read more »
Mike L
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I like long arguments. Perhaps some content here just teeing up an area of controversy (along with regular postings) might add more traffic and substance?

MikeD
Guest

I thought the BBWAA got the top three correct.

Kluber
Sale
Severino
Verlander
Carrasco

no statistician but
Guest

My vote:

1) Kluber—head shoulders above the rest.
2) Severino—pitched well generally, but especially down the stretch in the chase after Boston.
3) Verlander—on the basis of his September in Houston.
4) Carrasco—went from 10-5, 4.06, to 18-6, 3.29, from Aug 11 onward. On August 10 the tribe’s lead was only 3.5 games.
5) Sale—Flashy strikeout total aside, in Aug-Sept he went 4-4 with an ERA that rose from 2.37 to 2.90.

So, yeah, I’m sort of making a case for the CY as a pitching MVP by dropping Sale so low.

e pluribus munu
Guest
I can’t see any challenge to Kluber on the top spot, and my thoughts are mostly like others’, but I’m going to be a little contrarian on Ervin Santana. I think Santana may be failing to attract support because his contributions were frontloaded in the season. I don’t think that’s a good approach. Minnesota may have fallen short in the end because Santana ran out of gas, but they wouldn’t have been in wild-card contention late in the season if he hadn’t contributed such a terrific start. The net contribution was the same as if all those shutouts and complete… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

I totally agree with your points about Santana. I watched two games where I thought he was pulled early this year. While hee did certainly frontload his season, it was awfully good. I’m not sure I’ll have space for him, but I think your points are absolutely spot-on.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I appreciate your saying so, Doom.

Richard Chester
Guest

1. Kluber
2. Sale
3. Severino
4. Carrasco
5. Verlander

Dr. Doom
Guest
1. Corey Kluber – An outstanding year. 2. Chris Sale – Actually posted a better fWAR than Kluber. It’s easy to dismiss him because of his performance down the stretch, but I could see myself being persuaded into putting him in the top spot. 3. Justin Verlander – It’s hard to pretend I don’t know how the playoffs turned out. I admit that probably has some influence on Verlander this high; still, it was a nice comeback season. I’m rooting for a HOF career for Verlander, and I fear it will take another few seasons like this one. Here’s hoping!… Read more »
Dr. Doom
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I would like to add some thoughts to the WAR-Win Shares discussion above, but I want to do so outside the parameters of the discussion itself, because they’re really side-issues dealing with calculations, and not at the heart of the discussion. In no particular order: 1.) WAR does have a nomenclature problem. I feel confident that if you took ’21 Ruth, ’01 Bonds, ’12 Trout, ’80 Brett, ’91 Ripken, ’24 Hornsby, ’31 Gehrig, and ’72 Bench, then add in ’01 Randy Johnson, ’72 Carlton, ’85 Gooden, ’97 Clemens, and ’68 Gibson, you end up with a team with more than… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Great comment, Doom. I spent so long bloviating on my comment below that I didn’t see it till after posting. I appreciate your pointing us to Sean Foreman’s response to James. By the way, I’m the one who wondered whatever happened to Win Shares — after all the effort of reading James’s original book on the subject, I felt distressed that I never got to show off that I’d done it. I do think that there are deep structural strengths and flaws in both Win Shares and WAR (or RAR), and that they are not likely to be reconcilable. If… Read more »
Hartvig
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Wow. Some really interesting and informative discussions happening. I may not be any smarter than I was before but my ignorance and confusion has reached a higher level than ever before. This is how I see it: 1) Kluber- as others have said before me, there’s just too much here to come to any other conclusion 2) Verlander- I have to admit that because of personal prejudice I tried to come up with a logical reason to make him my top pick. 3) Sale- again, just too much to overlook. He also deserved serious consideration for the #1 spot. 4)… Read more »
Dr. Doom
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You’ll still have your chance, Hartvig! The NL Cy Young is next, but then we get the AL MVP!

Voomo Zanzibar
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Agreed. Great last 48 hours on this site.
I even learned a fantastic new word: bloviate

e pluribus munu
Guest
I’m picking up the set of exchanges about WAR vs. Win Shares, Altuve s. Judge, etc., that appears midway on this string and began this comment hoping to make it easier to continue that discussion by adding to it with a new bottom-of-the-page comment here. Unfortunately, I may be squelching discussion by adding a comment that’s simply too long. But anyway . . . A lot of the discussion in the earlier exchanges was prompted by the Tangotiger Blog and Bill James online blog. I wanted to note that the Tango blog also includes a link to a post on… Read more »
Richard Chester
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epm: I am so impressed with your comments that I have created a Word document for them for my future perusal. I have a ways to go until I fully understand WAR. I have also included comments by some of the other commenters.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Wow — Richard — thanks! I have at least as far to go on WAR as you, and I’m beginning to think it’s time I invested the effort to work through to the details.

no statistician but
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epm: Two points: 1) Should we start referring to this site as HHE—High Heat Existentialism—from now on? 2) Do you think anyone over at the Tango site or the Posnanski site, Bill James, or even John Autin, are following this thread? The whole discussion, anyway—from the cited James article to your comment above— is good in that it at least has had the effect of pointing out a basic flaw in WAR, something I began arguing years ago and gave up on in frustration, that WAR is mis-titled. If the people who titled it don’t even understand their own use… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
nsb, I thought I was an existentialist in the 60s, and took a college course on it, which I recall mostly for two things: (a) my embrace of the existentialist zeitgeist and the freedom it said I was condemned to, skipping virtually every class; (b) the D on my transcript. I don’t suppose Posnanski and James have time for HHS, but John, if you’re lurking in silence (and anyone could understand why you’d treat HHS as though it were the object of a 12-step program), we miss you! I think you’re right, nsb: most of us ultimately take WAR on… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest

You and your 34 mph fastball and the ball lands 1 yard outside of the outfielders reach?

I was not aware there were any ballparks where the outfield fences were 700 feet;)

e pluribus munu
Guest

Hartvig, If you’re in total control, why settle for a timeworn cliche when you can make the ball do circus tricks?

Mike L
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ThickieDon
Guest

Who won?

Dr. Doom
Guest
Here are your 2017 AL Cy Young Results: There were 8 ballots cast. 7 points for first place, then 4-3-2-1 for the remaining five. Points listed after the name, first place votes in parentheses. 1. Corey Kluber, 56 (8) 2. Chris Sale, 27 3. Justin Verlander, 21 4. Luis Severino, 16 5. Carlos Carrasco, 11 6. Marcus Stroman, 4 7. Ervin Santana, 1 A clean sweep for Kluber! Five people had all of the top five on their ballot, but no one had them in order. Only one voter had the top four in order (that was e pluribus munu),… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

For those interested in the WAR discussion, Tango has a WONDERFUL post about Judge right now:

http://tangotiger.com/index.php/site/comments/so-what-is-all-the-hulabaloo-about-war

e pluribus munu
Guest
I agree that it’s a good analysis, Doom. Tango is absolutely right that if we clarify our question we will be better able to discern what metics answer it and what don’t, and not get caught up trying to make the wrong metric fit our question. On the other hand, it’s also possible to claim that questions are not all of equal interest and significance. (It’s a lot like the discussion we’re having about FIP on the next thread. You can say that FIP is better for measuring pitcher stuff and control and ERA is better for measuring pitcher game… Read more »
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