Felix Hernandez brings home Cy Young Award to Seattle. ‘A very emotional day for me’
Feliz Hernandez (Photo by Mike Tigas courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Felix Hernandez won barely more games than he lost in 2010 as part of the Mariners’ 101-loss season.
But even at 13-12, the Mariners’ right-hander wound up as the big winner in the American League, coming home Thursday with the Cy Young Award as voted by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
“It is a very emotional day for me,’’ Hernandez, at home in Venezuela, said in a statement released by the Mariners. “I’m very proud that I was able to accomplish this not only for myself, but for my family, my country and my team. I don’t have the words to describe the way I feel.’’
For the Mariners, this was the first Cy Young win since 1995 when Randy Johnson became the first Seattle winner. Two left-handers, David Price of Tampa Bay and C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees, finished second and third in the BBWAA voting.
“We are all proud of Felix for achieving this tremendous honor,’’ general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “He is the ultimate competitor and a great teammate, I know I speak for our entire organization, our fans and the entire Northwest when I say that this is honor that is well deserved.’’
The question this year more than in any other year was whether someone like Hernandez, who had dominant statistics across the board, could get more voting support than someone like the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia (21-7) or the Rays’ David Price (19-6) who had played for better teams and had run up quite a few more wins.
In the American League in 2010, we have one of the best have vs. have-not matchups ever.
Sabathia already had one Cy Young in his trophy case, and his statistics this time around were certainly worthy of another.
But he pitched for a team that scored a ton of runs for him; Hernandez pitched for a team that didn’t score for anybody. It’s possible that no pitcher has pitched so well for a team so incapable of taking advantage of it.
Hernandez, 24, led the league in innings pitched (249.2), earned run average (2.27), quality starts (30) and opponents’ batting average (.212).
On the other hand, the Seattle offense was dead last in the AL in virtually every important hitting statistic, including average, runs, RBIs, hits, doubles, triples, homers, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
That meant that Hernandez took the mound every fifth day knowing that to give up one run was to risk a loss, to give up two runs was to invite a loss and to give up three or more runs was to virtually guarantee a loss.
He responded the best way a pitcher can – by being a dominant pitcher. In 15 of his 34 starts, Hernandez pitched at least seven innings and allowed either one or zero runs. That was amazing, but it didn’t always translate into victories.
Sabathia was buoyed by 7.31 runs worth of support and Price by 7.03. On the other hand, Hernandez got just 3.10 runs per start. That’s no way to rack up wins.
In Hernandez’s 12 losses, the Mariners scored just seven runs when Hernandez was in the game. In 10 of his 34 starts they scored either one or zero runs, and 15 times it was two runs or less.
Winning wasn’t what Hernandez did best.
But as Thursday’s vote showed, pitching was.