Now that Charles has humbled Cory with his AL hitting selections, it's time to pick the statistical leaders in the primary AL Pitching categories. Remember, Charles' selections open the discussion and Cory's responses can be found in italics.
Wins: Wow, seems like no one wanted to win games last year. Do you know the last time prior to 2006 that neither league had a 20 game winner (other than strike/lockout years)? Well, the answer is "never" (OK, its 1871, if you want to count a league in which no team played more than 33 games).
So will the AL see a 20 game winner? Yes, but just 20. And who will it be? Tempting to pick the same guy for everything, but I'll go with Roy Halladay here.
It’s hard to seriously say that Johan Santana has been snakebit, but take this into account. In the last years, he has made exactly 100 starts, averaging a shade under 7IP per. In those 100 starts, he has averaged 2.12 runs per start (oh, and 7.5k’s per, but we’ll get to that). What does he have to show for it? Only 55 wins. I have no historical comparison here, but I think this is the year he gets his second 20 win season and I say he finally gets a little run support and pushes it to 22. For good measure Chien-Ming Wang gets 20 as well.
For the record, if Wang wins 20 I'll….well, I'm not going to commit to doing anything. But I will be surprised.
ERA: Now that Pedro is gone from the AL, and "Dominant Pedro" is gone from everywhere, no one seems to go too low here. I don't see that trend changing -- I'll take a 2.78 ERA from Johan Santana.
Did I mention that 22 would get him 100 wins for his career? Or that I am hoping science finds a way for us to clone Johan once his contract runs out in exactly 19 months? This is his category and the 2.78 is right near the money. Without a World Baseball Classic, I say he grooves it a bit later this season and ends up just slightly higher. Johan – 2.83.
Strikeouts: I'd like to take a flier on King Felix here, but I don't think he'll get the innings. Scott Kazmir scares me with the injury. So I'm left with Santana, again, with 240.
Scott Kazmir? Seriously? I mean he’s a good pitcher, and along with the aforementioned Felix and Johan, makes up a pretty strong trio of strikeout artists in the AL, but you’re talking about a guy (in Santana) who has been Sandy Koufax since 2004. Damn straight Santana wins this again, and going away, with 243. Triple Crown time for Hugo Chavez’ boy!
Whoa, I know this is a Twins site, but let's not get too carried away. Koufax? Maybe if you mean the 1961 version. J Actually, you aren't as far off as it might seem, given that Koufax pitched in the Grand Canyon against punch-and-judy hitters. But even though Santana has been only a tick or two behind in terms of dominance, Koufax pulls ahead with those 300 inning years. Think the Twins would have liked another hundred dominant innings from Santana to knock out some of those Lohse/Baker starts? That's what the Dodgers used to get in the mid-60's.
Saves: Predicting this one is the crappiest of crap shoots -- might as well throw $50 on a horn-high yo bet and hope for the best. So I'll throw the bones and pick Bobby Jenks (though it probably will be K-Rod again) with 46. Remember when 46 saves was a lot (actually, it was the record when Righetti got it back in 1986)? Well, its pretty ho-hum now.
Maybe I’ve stumbled across too many copies of the back page of the New York tabloids, but I just have this sneaking suspicion that, assuming he doesn’t get paid, a certain Hall of Fame closer is going to make it real costly on Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner this season. I don’t think he or anyone else gets 46, but it’s 42 for #42, Mariano Rivera.
Picking Mariano Rivera is the equivalent of going with Duke in your office pool -- how could you possibly root for him to win? Now, I doubt Mo will get cuffed around by VCU, but I think you're gonna lose this one.
Charles is a lawyer in Chevy Chase, Maryland who's unabashedly pleased that Matthew LeCroy no longer plays for the home team.
Cory is also a lawyer in San Diego who once watched a spring training game in Fort Myers with Mrs. Matthew LeCroy and is quite certain the big man has luck in spades.