Time to Rename the Cy Young Award?


In 1956, the Cy Young Award was introduced by MLB Commissioner Ford Frick to honor the single best pitcher in the game (both leagues since 1967).  The tribute posthumously honored the death of the legendary pitcher best known for winning an unthinkable 511 games.

Denton True Young compiled ninety-four wins (22.5%) more than Walter Johnson from 1890-1911.  This is the safest record in the history of baseball.  However, is it time to rename the award to reflect the current state of the game?

With the advent of statistical analysis (sabermetrics), win totals have lost their cachet in evaluating overall pitching greatness.  The right-hander holds the MLB record of 7356 IP, 815 GS, and 749 CG over his 22-year career.  The cumulative totals are otherworldly but is Young the ultimate compiler with a catchy name (“Cy” named after cyclone for speed of his fastball)?

These statistics measure a pitchers performance more accurately than relying on uncontrollable team factors such as relief pitching, fielding, and runs support.

*Based on minimum 1000+ IP  

 BB/9: 1.49 (23rd)

SO/9: 3.42 (879th)

HR/9: .16 (117th)

ERA+: 138 (17th)

WAR: 162.3 (1st)

According to the ratios, Young possessed excellent control while allowing league average H/9 (8.7).  However, the right-hander pitched in an era of three man rotations, complete games, high batting averages, low strikeout totals, and most importantly, the dead ball era.  The 138 ERA+ and 162.3 WAR rank amongst the best of all-time.

Who are the other renaming options?

Satchel Paige.  If not for segregation, “Ol’ Satch” might have been the greatest MLB pitcher of all-time.  Unfortunately, the Negro Leagues star did not debut until Age 42.

Walter Johnson won 417 games, 3509 strikeouts, and holds the MLB record of 110 shutouts.  “The Big Train” might have the strongest case to rename the award.

Pedro Martinez is the sabermetrics king but his career innings pitched totals are too low.  154 ERA+ (2nd); 1.054 WHIP (5th); 10.04 K/9 (3rd); 82.6 WAR (16th)

Other potential renaming candidates are Greg Maddux, Christy Mathewson, Grover Alexander, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Lefty Grove and others make a strong case but Cy Young is in a class all by himself.

As a result, Young is still the most suitable candidate to name the pitching award after despite compiling enormous wins totals.  Think about this, Young pitched 1400+ IP more than anyone else while completing more than 100 games than any other hurler in history.  Not only was he the most durable pitcher ever, Cy truly pitched like a young gun.

At least it is not called the Denton True Young Award.

By qualcomm98
Tuesday, 18 Sep 2012


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