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Who Wins the Cy and Where Will Cahill Land in the Voting?

From the A's Twitter: #Athletics exercise club options on Mark Ellis and Coco Crisp. A's do not exercise option on Eric Chavez, making him a free agent.

Whether he makes the Top 10 or manages to crack the Top 5, it is still wildly impressive that an A's pitcher--who didn't even make the club out of Spring Training--will be included in the top pitchers of the AL this season. Unfortunately, Cahill's last starts of the season, including a high-profile one in New York, will take him out of the Cy Young race, but I think every A's fan can agree that he exceeded everyone's expectations with his 30 start season.

Cahill finished with a record of 18-8 (no small feat with the A's offense!), an ERA just under three, and an eye-popping WHIP of 1.11 (good enough for 4th best in the league).

But as impressive as Cahill was this season, there were several pitchers who had better years. If I had to pick a top three, it would be New York's CC Sabathia, Tampa Bay's David Price and Seattle's Felix Hernandez. (Other candidates include Lester and Buchholz, and if a closer were to win, probably Soriano or Feliz.)

I fully expect to learn (and hope to explore) new statistics and metrics through this thread that might take the guesswork out of the "real" Cy voting, but if I had to go with what the voters will likely use, I'd say that CC Sabathia will win the AL Cy Young.

Let's first look at Felix Hernandez, in what is a dark-horse pick due to the millstone around his neck; his 13-12 W/L record. Despite progress in the last few years between the stat community and the baseball traditionalists, I don't think there is much of a chance in 2010 that a pitcher with 13 wins will win the Cy Young over a pitcher with 19 or 21 (Price and Sabathia, respectively). And we can all discuss how meaningless wins are (and they are, for the most part), but this is a huge discrepancy for voters to overlook.

That being said, it's one that can probably be explained fairly easily. Sabathia and Hernandez play for teams at the exact opposite ends of the offensive spectrum. That is to say; the Yankees led the entire league in runs scored at 859. If you guessed that Seattle scored the fewest number of runs of any team (100 less than Baltimore, the runner-up), you'd be right, at 513. The Yankees scored 346 more runs than Seattle; I'm not surprised that a Yankees' pitcher has more wins than a Seattle pitcher. If you want exact rankings, Sabathia is ranked #15 in run support, Price is #23, and Felix is #92.That explains a lot about the W/L records.

In addition, Felix's ERA is considerably lower than CC's; 2.27 to 3.18; same with WHIP; 1.06 (second only to Cliff Lee) to 1.19. Hernandez has 35 more strikeouts and even pitched more innings than the workhorse Sabathia (they came in first and second in the league). At first blush, it may seem crazy to match up these two pitchers considering the win discrepancy, but assuming all else is equal, the edge actually goes to Felix Hernandez. And it's not really close; based on raw numbers, Hernandez was the better pitcher.

However, even though I don't give a rat's hindquarter about wins, I still think there might be some factors that may make Sabathia a legitimate choice. One example could be the 2010 Park Factor.

Despite Rob Neyer's article at the beginning of the year, where he labels the new Yankee Stadium as a "homerun park", but not necessarily a "hitter's park" (based on this and similar data last year, ESPN would later rank the park 10th in "hitter friendly" parks), I think the 2010 data shows an increased run total. The 2010 MLB Park Factor has Yankee Stadium at the top of the American League in runs, second only in MLB to Coors' Field. CC Sabathia put up his numbers in the most hitter-friendly park in the league. And Hernandez? You guessed it. Safeco Field ranks second-to-last in the AL; it was the second-most pitcher-friendly park in the whole league this season. Hernandez put up a 2.06 ERA at home this season (2.46 on the road), while CC put up a 3.00 ERA at home (3.34 on the road).

And of course, the Mariners played in a league with the 2010 A's and Angels; the Yankees battled the Rays, the Jays, and the Red Sox. Enough to make a difference?

Enter David Price, who is also a good choice for the award. Matching CC's 1.19 WHIP, Price posted a 2.72 ERA and just missed the elusive 20-win season. However, if we consider the above-mentioned park factor, the only more pitcher-friendly park than Safeco this year was Tropicana. He certainly benefited from his home park; Price posted a 3.64 ERA on the road and a 1.96 ERA at home. His team was also third in the league in runs scored at 802. But like Sabathia, Price plays in a division with the Yankees, Jays and Red Sox; does that matter?

I've looked at the games line by line; CC earned his wins; there's only one game he gave up more than 3 earned runs and still got the win. However, Felix certainly suffered his share of low-scoring no-decisions and losses. And if wins is the factor, why not David Price, who had the numbers and the wins?

Who do you think will win the Cy Young? Why do you think should win the Cy Young? What is your measure of the "best" pitcher in the league? What do you think the voters will consider? And where does Cahill fall on the pitching scale?