Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 29, 2003
BASEBALL: Don't Cy For Me

Now, long-time readers know that I'm a big fan of San Pedro de Fenway here, but even though he was baseball's most effective starting pitcher this season, and at the risk of contradicting what I just said below about Maddux, I just can't see giving Pedro another Cy Young Award this season:

1. He only won 14 games.
2. He only threw 186.2 innings.
3. These two facts are not coincidental.

Not only did Pedro not pitch for nearly a month, but in Pedro's 11 no decisions, he threw less than 7 innings five times. He also left after 7 five others. Now, 7 innings should get you a decision in today's baseball, so including those in the case against Pedro may not be fair; let's take a look at those five starts:

March 31 (Opening Day) in Tampa: Martinez leaves with a 4-1 lead after throwing 91 pitches, having allowed a run in the seventh. Hard to fault him here; it was Opening Day, he had a comfortable lead against a rotten team, and Alan Embree and Chad Fox imploded in the ninth inning to lose the game 6-4.

April 27 at Anaheim: Again, Martinez is lifted after allowing a run in the seventh; he leaves with a 4-2 lead after throwing 101 pitches. A lot of pitchers might have been pulled at that point, so it's unfair to give him all the blame for the fact that Brandon Lyon and Chad Fox each allowed runs (in the 8th and 9th) and the Sox had to go 14 innings to reclaim victory.

June 21 at Philadelphia: Martinez throws 92 pitches, leaves with a 2-1 lead. This one really looks like a game where you'd want your ace pitcher to go 8 with a shaky bullpen. Mike Timlin lets Jim Thome go deep in the 8th to tie it; in the absence of a lefthander, you'd rather have seen Pedro pitch to Thome than a famously gopher-prone righthander. Jason Shiell lets Thome go deep in the 12th, and he and Rudy Seanez blow the game in the 13th.

July 7 at Yankee Stadium: The most notorious of the bunch; the Hated Yankees tie the game 1-1 in the sixth, and Martinez leaves after 7 having thrown 115 pitches. Byun-Hyung Kim blows it in the 9th. Verdict: pitching the 8th might not have made a difference, and Martinez had thrown plenty of pitches here.

July 12 at Detroit: Martinez throws 105 pitches, Red Sox take a 2-1 lead in the top of the 8th, the 24-66 Tigers tie it up in the bottom of the 8th off Embree and the game goes 11. This one's really not Martinez' fault so much as the bullpen's.

Interesting that each of these games was on the road, and all were before the All-Star Break. Even if you exonerate Martinez in each of these five games, the team's overall 4-7 record in his no-decisions, combined with his starting only 29 games in the first place, really has to lead you to conclude that Martinez just wasn't a big enough factor to win the award. That leaves the field to Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson and Esteban Loaiza. (Note that the A's were 10-1 in Hudson's no decisions). I think I'd give the award to Hudson, myself; he carried a heavier innings load (240) than Loaiza (219), but had a considerably better ERA (2.70) than the other two (2.96 for Loaiza and 3.25 for Halladay).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:53 AM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

crank-

By giving the award to hudson are you saying that if pedro had pitched 50 more innings, gone 2-3, and had an era of about 4 in those starts he would then be deserving of the award? Because that's how poorly he would have to pitch to equal hudson's numbers. I think you've got to go Halladay, and if not him, there's no way its not pedro.

Posted by: Darren Madigan at September 30, 2003 8:23 AM

I think the Red Sox should be commended for the way they have handled Pedro. Clearly, Pedro has a tendency to break down after heavy use, especially late in his career, and the Red Sox have been very smart to keep his innings low, saving him for late in the season when it matters most. The games Carnk cited are perfect examples of games where most managers (Dusty Baker comes to mind) would be most tempted to keep a star pitcher in the game, but I think that Grady did the right thing by resisting that temptation.

The fact that the Red Sox have used Pedro so carefully, however, should count against him in the Cy Young balloting. Pedro may have been the best pitcher in the AL when he was pitching, but if he's out there for 50-60 innings less than Halladay or Loaiza, then he may not have been the best pitcher in the AL over the course of the season. A dominating pitcher that can only go seven innings may be less valuable than a somewhat less dominant starter who can go eight or nine.

I don't think Crank disagrees with the foregoing. I think he's just pointing out that the Red Sox approach with Pedro limits his value from game to game and maybe over the course of the season but maximizes his value at the end of the season and for next year and the year after.

Great site, by the way, Crank. I've enjoyed your stuff since the halcyon days of the BSG.

Posted by: Andrew at September 30, 2003 9:42 AM

I'd agree that it's not a criticism of Pedro or his handling, but that handling has its costs. He's just not as valuable as a guy who's strong enough to throw an extra 50 innings.

Darren: that's 53.1 innings with a 4.38 ERA. The Sox team ERA was 4.48. Considering that the missed starts and early exits game extra innings to, among others, Ramiro Mendoza (6.75 ERA), Casey Fossum (5.47 ERA), and Chad Fox (4.50 ERA with the Sox), I'd say they'd have taken that. More innings from their #1 starter would have relieved Boston's problems with pitching depth.

Remember, the A's were 26-8 in Hudson's starts, the Sox were 18-11 in Pedro's with a much better offense. That's not all Pedro's fault, but those missing 50 innings left too much in the hands of incompetent replacements.

Posted by: The Crank at September 30, 2003 8:56 PM
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