“Who Should Have Won?” – The 2005 AL Cy Young

It’s a rare case when the baseball writers vote unanimously to give one player the Cy Young or MVP awards. An example of this happened in 2011 when Justin Verlander deservedly received all 28 first place votes for the AL Cy Young. However most years the writers split their first place votes; and while most times the majority makes the correct pick, sometimes they don’t. This is one of those times.

For years there has been a debate about whether the MVP Award should go to the best player in the league or the most “valuable” player on a post-season reaching team. That debate rarely applies to the Cy Young Award though.  Almost always the award goes to the best pitcher that season regardless of his teams overall success. 2005 seemed to be different though when Bartolo Colon (17 first place votes) won the award over Johan Santana (3 firsts).

During the ’05 season the Twins were never in the division race and finished 16 games behind the eventual World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. The Angels on the other hand were in a tight race all year before finally pulling away from the Oakland Athletics and winning the AL West. It was this sprint to the finish and Bartolo Colon’s key role in that finish that probably won him the award.  Over his final 14 starts, Colon was 10-2. The award shouldn’t be given for a third of a season’s performance though. Especially when that performance wasn’t as dominating as people think.

First let’s look at those final 14 starts. Yes Colon was 10-2, but his ERA was 3.26 and he only pitched more than 7 innings 3 times during that stretch. In fact, Colon only pitched 5 innings in four of his last five starts. The credit for Colon’s great season ending run should probably go to the Angels offense. During those last 14 games Bartolo was supported by 88 runs, that’s 6.29 per game.

You can’t just take the award away from one pitcher however, another has to win it, and Johan Santana did.

Here are each pitchers season totals.

Pitcher        G       Record          ERA          Inn         K        WHiP        ERA+

Colon          33       21-8            3.48         222.2    157       1.159       122

Santana     33       16-7            2.87         231.2    238       0.971       155

Santana easily beats Colon in each stat other than wins. Colon picked up 21 wins in his 33 starts and had 29 decisions overall. Santana on the other hand had “just” 16 wins and 23 decisions.  So what happened in the other 10 games?  The Twins were 8-2 in those games. Santana threw 71 innings (7.1/gm) with a 3.04 era. Clearly Santana was keeping his team in these games, but for one reason or another he just didn’t collect the win. In four of his 7 loses, the Twins scored 2 runs or less.

It seems to me that the writers were blinded by Colon’s 21 wins, which did lead the league, and his “great” stretch run. The real winner though should have been Johan Santana.

So Congratulations Johan Santana! You are……

Wrigley Regulars 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner

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