2008 Fantasy Cy Young

Today, let’s first take a look at a few candidates who were considered for the Fantasy Cy Young Award, but for various reasons were not quite good enough to qualify as finalists:

Cliff Lee – He tied for the league lead in victories with 22 and certainly was the talk of the town this season, experiencing one of the most extraordinary bounce back seasons ever.  With his 2.54 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, it only helps make his case for this award.  His strikeout total of 170 puts him at twenty-fifth in the majors, certainly hurting his candidacy.  To be the Fantasy Cy Young, you have to not excel in three categories, you have to help your owner in all four unless you blow away the field somewhere along the line.  Lee doesn’t have that anywhere, so he falls into the Top 5, but that’s where his candidacy ends.

Johan Santana – If it weren’t for the lack of W’s, Santana would be a lot more viable candidate here.  It’s unfortunate, because that is something that is very subjective, as the Mets bullpen was pathetic, blowing lead after lead for him in the late innings.  Still, you cannot ignore his 2.53 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 206 K’s.  I know people would have liked to see more strikeouts, especially considering this was his first season in the NL and the first time since 2004 that he failed to reach 235 strikeouts.  Still, he proved that was still among the games elite in the second half, going 8-0 in 15 starts (107.2 innings), posting an ERA of 2.17.  With that type of ERA, he really should’ve won significantly more of his starts, but that’s life.  He is one of the best in the league, proving that by leading the majors in ERA, and should be one of the first starters off the board in 2009, but without the wins he’s not the 2008 Fantasy Cy Young.

CC Sabathia – The league leader in innings pitched, he put the Brewers on his back to get them to the playoffs.  Overall he picked up 17 victories to go along with a 2.70 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 251 strikeouts.  In a normal season, you would think that would have to get him into the final two, and maybe it should this season, but I honestly had to leave him out.  The victories weren’t there and no matter how much I try, I can’t ignore his start to the season, going 1-4 with a 7.76 ERA in five April starts.  I know all that really matters is the bottom line numbers, but at the same time you would like to see some consistency from a pitcher.  Did owners give up on him and sell low early on?  If that’s the case, he certainly could have done a lot of harm to owners who failed to have patience.  The Post All-Star Break numbers are ridiculous, going 9-2 with a 1.56 ERA and 114 K’s in 15 starts.  Still, like I said, there are just things that I can’t ignore, no matter how hard I try.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the two pitchers that I did mark down as my finalists:

Roy Halladay – Him being in the final 2 may surprise people, but in my opinion he certainly deserves it.  I know the strikeouts aren’t as high as some other pitchers, but he did strikeout 206, putting him in a tie for fifth.  It might not be Top 3, but it’s good enough to give you an advantage over a lot of other pitchers in the league.  Plus, when you couple it with 20 wins, a 2.78 ERA and a miniscule 1.05 WHIP, it was a tremendous season for a pitcher who no one expected this much from.  Remember, this is the same pitcher who struck out just 139 in ’07 and 132 in ’06.  In fact, he had only had more then 168 K’s in a season once before, having struck out 204 back in 2003.  You also have to consider that he led the league in WHIP among pitchers who qualified, something that should not be taken lightly.  Considering when you probably got Halladay on draft day, he turned out to be a vital part of any fantasy success you enjoyed this season.

Tim Lincecum – The fact that he’s a finalist is pretty much a no brainer to me.  He led the majors in strikeouts with 265, to go along with 18 W’s, a 2.62 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.  That ERA is great as well, placing him third in the league.  The WHIP was solid, though it put him just outside the Top 10, at thirteenth to be exact.  Everyone expected him to develop into a top-notch type of pitcher, but I’m not sure anyone expected him to grow this far this quickly.  Just consider the fact that in his rookie season, he posted an ERA of 4.00, though he did strikeout more then a batter per inning.  Still, pitching for the Giants, it is hard to believe that he was able to pitch to that good of an ERA while winning that many games. He did it, however, instantly putting his name into the ring with the elite in the game.  He is going to be a great pitcher for a long time, in my opinion, no matter what people say about his mechanics and the problems he is bound to have down the line.  I can’t worry about that, because the truth of the matter is that we just don’t really know if he will or will not be able to hold up.  What I do know is that he put up a monster season and is very deserving of being in the final 2.

So, who is going to take the award?  It really comes down to which advantage is more, Lincecum in strikeouts or Halladay in WHIP, since the ERA and W are close enough.

In the end, I decided to go with the youngster, Lincecum.  To me, that huge discrepancy in strikeouts was just too much for Halladay to overcome.  I don’t want to downplay the type of season that Halladay had.  Still, it is my opinion that Lincecum did more for his fantasy owners and therefore is the player who is taking home the award.

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