Monday, August 20, 2007

Johan Throws Down the Gauntlet

Can enough be said about Johan's masterful performance against the Rangers? I mean, really--how often does a player, in any sport, dominant in the way he did? Out of 26 batters he faced, he got 24 out and he struck out 17. And he did something else--he let it be known that he would not let his Cy Young Award go quietly into that good night--no, he is going to rage, rage against Danny Haren, Eric Bedard and the dying of the light.

Right now, Johan Santana's record is at 13-9, with a 2.88 ERA, 175.0 IP, 191 K, 39 BB and a 1.01 WHIP. He seems to have six main competitors right now; Danny Haren, Kelvim Escobar, Erik Bedard, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and C.C. Sabathia. Here's where they each stand:

Danny Haren: 13-4, 2.54 ERA, 173.3 IP, 138 K, 1.13 WHIP
Kelvim Escobar: 13-6, 2.68 ERA, 158.0, 124 K, 1.18 WHIP
Erik Bedard: 12-4, 2.98 ERA, 169.0 IP, 207 K, 1.08 WHIP
Josh Beckett: 15-5, 3.15 ERA, 154.3 IP, 148 K, 1.10 WHIP
John Lackey: 15-7, 3.32 ERA, 165.3 IP, 129 K, 1.28 WHIP
C.C. Sabathia: 14-6, 3.43 ERA, 189 IP, 168 K, 1.17 WHIP

Only Haren and Escobar have better ERAs, while only Bedard has more strikeouts. No AL pitcher has a better WHIP and Beckett, Lackey and Sabathia all trail Johan in every category except W-L. When it comes to VORP, Haren leads with 52.9, but Johan and Bedard trail by only .4 with both pitchers having VORP of 52.5. Escobar is the only other AL pitcher with a VORP over 45, with 50.8.

Each pitcher has around 8 starts left, more than enough to break away from the pack. And sadly, one of the determining factors will be the pitcher's win loss-record. As we saw in 2005, a pitcher with 20 wins is the favorite, especially if they are the only starter to get that many. That doesn't bode well for Johan's chances. Nor does the fact that he has the most losses of the group, with 9. Realistically, it would seem that he has to get to at least 18 wins (no AL starting pitcher has won the Cy Young without winning 18 games and the two NL winners were special cases). He also has to make a run at Erik Bedard and Dan Haren for the strikeout and ERA lead and that's not going to be easy for Johan either--his next start is against Baltimore, an average offensive team (8th in the AL) that doesn't strike out a lot (4th fewest in the AL, 5th fewest in MLB) and it looks like he face Cleveland and Detroit twice and Chicago, Texas and Boston. Finally, the Twins have to score him enough runs to prevent him from picking up more than one more loss. Pat Hentgen, Jack McDowell and Roger Clemens have all won the Cy Young since 1990 in the AL with 10 losses, but the last AL pitcher to do so with more than 10 losses was Jim Palmer in 1976.

So can Johan pitch well enough to win the Cy Young award for the second consecutive year? Of course he can--he's Johan Santana. Whether the Twins can score him enough runs, however, is a whole 'nother story.

1 comment:

John Sharkey, Esq. said...

That was easily the best game I've seen him pitch. If Oakland were in contention I'd think Haren would have a good shot at this, but as it stands I wouldn't be surprised to see the award go to whoever gets to 20 wins first. (Beckett?)