First-third awards – NL Cy Young

Leave a comment

With Johan Santana coming back to the pack lately, the NL currently has nine starters with ERA between 2.00 and 2.70.

1. Johan Santana – 2.00 ERA in 72 IP
2. Wandy Rodriguez – 2.26 ERA in 67 2/3 IP
3. Matt Cain – 2.31 ERA in 66 1/3 IP
4. Dan Haren – 2.42 ERA in 78 IP
5. Johnny Cueto – 2.43 ERA in 74 IP
6. Jair Jurrjens – 2.59 ERA in 66 IP
7. Chad Billingsley – 2.59 ERA in 80 IP
8. Zach Duke – 2.62 ERA in 79 IP
9. Josh Johnson – 2.66 ERA in 74 1/3 IP

No one else is under 3.00 and there aren’t any relievers on pace for 60
saves, so let’s label the above as the nine legitimate candidates.

First off, I like looking at unearned runs and defense. Santana and
Rodriguez have both given up seven unearned runs apiece, while no one
else on the list had allowed more than two. Haren is the only one in
the group yet to give up an earned run.

On to the gloves. Duke is being helped out by the game’s second most efficient defense to date.
Billingsley’s defense is third, while Cueto’s is ranked fifth. On the
other side, the Mets are 19th, the Astros 25th, the Giants 18th and the
Diamondbacks 22nd.

With additional factors, such as bullpen support and ballpark, being weighed, VORP still has an identical top nine NL starters, but ranks them in a vastly different order.

1. Dan Haren – 29.0
2. Johnny Cueto – 26.4
3. Chad Billingsley – 25.4
4. Zach Duke – 24.6
5. Matt Cain – 24.3
6. Josh Johnson – 23.1
7. Johan Santana – 22.4
8. Jair Jurrjens – 21.8
9. Wandy Rodriguez – 19.1

I’m not a big fan of VORP, but I think it comes up with a very good
list here. Santana was the NL’s best pitcher for six weeks and he’d
probably be my Cy Young pick for the rest of the season, but he doesn’t
deserve the top spot right now.

First third NL Cy Young

1. Haren
2. Billingsley
3. Cueto

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
1 Comment

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.