Based on success of others before him, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright’s pace though 113 games may have him on a track to win the Cy Young Award.
Is there any doubt that St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright is a workhorse – and is an extraordinary one at that?
Heading into Friday’s action, the Cardinals had played in 113 games this season. In his 25 starts to date, Wainwright accumulated 17 wins and a 1.99 ERA. Researcher Tom Orf helped me put Wainwright’s pace into a most impressive historical context.
The table below lists all MLB starters over the last half century with 20 or more starts and an ERA under two through their respective teams’ first 113 games.
Since 2000, Wainwright is among only five pitchers to have accomplished this. In addition to Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Chris Young, Florida’s Josh Johnson, who the Cardinals faced last Friday in Miami, is the other. *
(* It should be noted that since this data was pulled, Johnson’s ERA “ballooned” to 2.24 as he yielded six runs in 2 2/3 innings at Cincinnati Friday night. As such, if this list was reflected results through 114 games, Johnson’s name would vanish.)
Others who met these criteria in past decades are also listed.
One has to go all the way back to Dwight Gooden in 1985 to find a pitcher with more wins (18) than Waino and a sub-2.00 ERA at this point of the season. Roger Clemens also had 17 wins in 1997.
The common thread? Both Doc and the Rocket took home the Cy Young Award following those seasons.
This week, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch penned an in-depth article that is definitely worth a read. It looks at Wainwright’s 2010 candidacy from a number of angles. Since the voters have proven to be all over the map in their actual votes, I personally tend to not spend a lot of time trying to guess what they should do, let alone what they might do.
Instead, as a quick-and-dirty measure, I often refer to the ESPN Cy Young Predictor. That tool uses a Rob Neyer/Bill James formula to forecast the top contenders and leaders based on stats of past winners. Wainwright currently has a comfortable lead in the race for the 2010 NL award using this view.
However, before getting too excited, it is appropriate to note that Wainwright also had the highest score in ESPN’s formula last year. We all learned how a few voters who see the world differently than others can dramatically affect a tight competition and toss all the predictions out the window.
Wainwright and his supporters have to hope that he can further distance himself from the pack this time around and make it a one-horse race.
MLB pitchers through 113 games, season, minimum 20 starts and an ERA under 2.00, ordered by ERA within decades, 1960-2010
|Josh Johnson *||TBD||2010||10||4||1.97||23||1||0||155||121||34||5||36||156|
As an interesting sidelight, note that 11 pitchers met these criteria in 1968, The Year of the Pitcher. Seeing a name like Jim Nash alongside greats like Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Denny McLain helps explain why the mound was lowered as a result. It should also be noted that prior to 1967, there was only one annual Cy Young Award encompassing both leagues.
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