NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
I know there are voters who don’t think they can vote for a pitcher who’s 17-5, when Brandon Webb has spun a terrific 22-7, 3.24 season off his acehood assembly line. But I’d like all those voters to do me a favor: Ignore the wins column.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Consider this: Tim Lincecum has cranked out a stat line of his own that is not only more spectacular than Webb’s (wins notwithstanding), but is historic: a 2.66 ERA (barely second to Johan Santana), 252 strikeouts (most in the NL), a .223 opponent batting average (first in the league) and 10.31 strikeouts per 9 innings (also first). So how many right-handed pitchers can match Lincecum’s wins, winning percentage and all those other numbers in any season in history? How about one: Pedro Martinez, in 1999. So forget that win gap. Lincecum has had five saves blown for him. Webb has had one. Lincecum has had five starts in which he gave up no more than one earned run and didn’t win. Webb has had one. Lincecum pitched for a team that was 28 games under .500 when he didn’t pitch. Webb pitched for a team that led its division most of the year. We live in an age in which we ought to be able to use tools more incisive than “wins” to evaluate who has pitched the best. Don’t you think? Well, let’s use those tools. “Best stuff in baseball,” says Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur. And best year in the National League. Which is what Cy Youngs are made of.