Midseason Awards: National League Cy Young
While the mathematics don’t always add up perfectly, the All Star Break is generally accepted as the mid-way point to the season. As such this seems like the opportune time to take a look at what we’ve soon so far. To begin, the obvious (and perhaps most logical) choice would be to choose our midseason awards. So let’s begin with the National League midseason Cy Young Award winner.
Gut reaction here leads most of us right to Colorado Rockies’ pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. He’s easily been the most talked about pitcher in the league since throwing a perfect game at Atlanta in his third start of the season. Today, he sits at or near the top of most leader boards. But he is not the only name who seems to consistently appear on these lists so can we really give him the award without considering anyone else?
There are four additional names that stand out for me. Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins, Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike Pelfrey of the New York Mets, and Mat Latos of the San Diego Padres.
Certainly Jimenez’s place on this list is warranted considering his overall performance aside from the perfect game. He’s been dominant against most opponents and brought about two month’s worth of comparisons to Bob Gibson’s 1968 Cy Young and MVP award winning season. Gibson set the single season record that year for ERA, finishing the season at a mere 1.12 to go along with a 22-9 record in 304.2 innings over 34 starts – 28 of which he would finish, 13 without allowing a single run. Jimenez held his ERA around 1.15 right up until mid-June before a string of three consecutive starts of 4+ earned runs against the likes of Boston, San Diego, and San Francisco caused things to balloon closer to the mean at 2.20. Meanwhile, over the same stretch of time Johnson has been equally as dominant for the Marlins as he’s lowered his now MLB leading ERA to 1.70. Dating back to mid-May Johnson now has a streak of 11 consecutive starts of at least 6.0 innings while allowing 2 or fewer runs. That includes five scoreless appearances.
Fanfare aside, the statistics are telling. Ultimately this award is being considered in the context of most valuable pitcher in the league. So the player’s importance to their team naturally must be a factor in order to determine our definition of valuable. Colorado is fighting to keep up with San Diego despite losing for Jorge de la Rosa and Huston Street for much of the first half and Troy Tulowitski for the remainder of the summer months. San Diego has quietly had the top pitching staff and bullpen in the league. Latos, just 22 years old, has emerged as an ace for the team. Wainwright has been the consistent starter that he has developed into and has helped lead a strong rotation along with Chris Carpenter and rookie Jaime Garcia. Johnson was award with a contract extension prior to the start of the season and has successfully proven that he wants to earn his way as his performance has proven to be worth more than the team-friendly extension he agreed to which put him under team control for the next four seasons. The team around him has underperformed, he’s pitched just fine.
After all is said and done, the nod goes to Jimenez. He’s leading the league in wins, has become the ace scouts have hoped to see for years, and will likely be starting the All Star Game on Tuesday.