Whicker: Justifying the lonely Cy Young ballot for Hyun-Jin Ryu

first_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco At that point, the Dodgers’ left-hander had an ERA of 1.45, ridiculously low in this day and time. He had given up no home runs in July. Not only that, he had a lead in the ERA race that would have been the largest in modern baseball history had he maintained it.He had become a southpaw Greg Maddux, outfoxing the hitters with an endless pitch mix and drone-caliber location. He was not a strikeout generator like deGrom, with 163 for the season, but his strikeout/walk ratio was 6.79, ahead of deGrom’s 5.80 and behind leader Scherzer’s 7.31.By then the Dodgers were deep into the recreational phase of their season. On Aug. 17, they were 18-1/2 games ahead in the NL West. They had already conducted an experiment with Joc Pederson at first base. The burning question was whether, or when, rookie Gavin Lux was going to make it to Dodger Stadium.So Ryu had four tough starts. He didn’t make it through the sixth inning in any of them and had a 9.93 ERA. That only inflated his season ERA to 2.45.Then he gave up three runs in his final three starts of the year, going seven innings in each, and wound up winning the ERA title. One was a classic matchup with deGrom in which Ryu shut out the Mets through seven, but the Dodgers lost 3-0.Had the voting happened in mid-August, Ryu not only would have been the only real contender for the Cy Young but probably would have deserved Most Valuable Player as well. After all, he had been the ultimate outlier, bulletproof in a year of record offense.So to deprive Ryu of the Cy Young because of four games that meant approximately as much as a G-League exhibition seemed a little silly.Related Articles How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Flaherty enjoyed one of the best second halves in the history of pitching and ranked first in WHIP and batting average-against. Strasburg led the league in innings, or in recording outs. Scherzer led the NL in quality-starts percentage, keeping the Nationals in a position to win 79 percent of the time.DeGrom led the league with 255 strikeouts and ranked second in ERA (to Ryu) and in WHIP (to Flaherty). He also led the NL in lowest OPS-against and on-base-percentage against.After July, deGrom had 15 starts and got 21 outs in 13 of them. His ERA dipped from 3.32 to 2.43 and he was 7-1 in that stretch. He alone couldn’t get the Mets into the postseason, but this is not the Most Valuable Pitcher award.So why Ryu?Go back to Aug. 11. And, yeah, Ryu was 14-5. Win-loss records aren’t everything. They’re not nothing. To pitch 29 times as a starter and get the loss only five times is worth something.Baseball is a slave to numbers, of course, but there’s no reason its evaluators have to be. When you’re comparing a pitcher with a 0.910 WHIP to one with a 0.927, is that a distinction without a difference. Are we dealing with one extra baserunner over a three-game stretch?Ryu was 13th in innings pitched, which was a function of that August vacation as well as the Dodgers’ cautionary approach. He hadn’t pitched 150 since 2014. And he walked 24 batters all season.As one might imagine, a Twitter riot burst out from Queens on Thursday when the voting came out. Accusations of homerism came my way, which must have amused those who were just as savage in 2012 when I voted Miguel Cabrera over Mike Trout for AL Most Valuable Player.Whether a baseball award should trigger the same intensity as a death-penalty debate is a question for another day. In the end, the Dodgers would have popped champagne if you’d told them in March that Ryu would be a Cy Young runner-up. And they did. Once, anyway.center_img There were six deserving candidates for the 2019 National League Cy Young Award. Maybe at some point they’ll go to Hall of Fame rules and give out six awards, for meritorious service.Until that dreaded day arrives, only one man wins.Jacob deGrom of the Mets got 29 of 30 first-place votes to take the Cy for the second consecutive year. Hyun-Jin Ryu got the 30th vote, from yours truly.Stephen Strasburg, Jack Flaherty, Max Scherzer and Kirby Yates had cases to state. It was notable, for instance, that Yates gave up two home runs all season, as San Diego’s closer, in the year of the souvenir. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Read More →