No. 229 C.C. Sabathia (Number 53 Pitcher)

In 2007, C.C. Sabathia won the Cy Young over Josh Beckett by a comfortable margin, but not a run away. If someone was writing an article about who should have won the Cy Young, just using WAR they would mark this as a mistake as Sabathia had 6.3 WAR and Beckett had 6.5 WAR. However, we are just talking about 2 runs and even proponents can tell you that WAR is not this accurate. Actually if you were giving it a grade you could say that Beckett only saved 2 of 65 runs which is well over 90 percent which is an A. Actually, Sabathia and Beckett both saved 66 runs over replacement level. However, Beckett pitched fewer innings, so more of his runs saved are above average. Down below I will discuss total runs saved which will make the race even closer.

Two other pitchers pitched well enough to win the award, John Lackey and Roberto Hernandez. Here is the four pitchers old fashion statistical stats:

                C.C. Sabathia             19-7 3.21

                Josh Beckett              20-7 3.27

                John Lackey               19-9  3.01

                Roberto Hernandez 19-8 3.06

The stats are won-loss record with earned run average (ERA) It is pretty close. Lackey had 6.3 WAR the same as Sabathia and Hernandez had only a 6.2 WAR. They were the four best pitchers according to WAR and they finished as the top four pitchers in the Cy Young voting. So basically, the writers agreed with WAR. Now WAR basically calculates runs saved above average by taking the league runs scored average and subtracting runs allowed by the pitcher. However, there are adjustments based on how difficult the pitchers offenses he faces were, how difficult the parks he pitched in were to pitch, how good his defense was and whether he was a reliever or starter. These four were all starters.

There are other things you can look at like Lackey led the league in earn run average. More importantly C.C. Sabathia led the league in strikeouts to walks ratio, which gives him more of an edge to me. However, Josh Becketr was an undefeated pitcher by my calculations of his WAR won-loss record. Actually, he had .01 losses, but that is still pretty good.

Another thing it got me thinking when doing this was how many runs each pitcher saved in total for the year. Baseball Reference gives the number of runs saved over average and the number of runs saved over replacement. This got me to think how many runs were saved in total. I finally figured out how to get a good estimate.

To do this I just had to take the number runs over replacement, but not over average. For Sabathia this number is 28. So, after playing with the numbers I found an easy way to calculate the formula. Since, the replacement level winning percentage is .294, then the percentage from replacement to average is .204. So, what I had to do is divide the replacement by .206 which was 28/.206. Then take that number and multiply it by .294. Doing this for Sabathia I got 40 runs rounded to the nearest who number.

So, I did it for the four pitchers and I found the following:

Runs Saved                                                                         Sabathia               Beckett                Lackey  Hernandez

Above Average                                                                 38                           43                           39           39

Below Average Above Replacement                        28                           23                           26           25

Below Replacement                                                        40                           33                           37           36

Total                                                                                  106                         99                           102         100

Just those pure numbers shows Sabathia had another good argument for the Cy Young Award. He did lead the league in innings pitched. However, according to the formula Beckett saved runs at a better rate making him a little better then Sabathia. How accurate this is depends on how much you depend on all the conclusions made when developing the formula. I have a little trouble with that and it is one reason I combine formulas.

These four pitchers pitched very well, but to me none of the seasons were great. I decided to see how many runs Dwight Gooden saved in 1985, the season I think is the greatest pitched season of all time.

Baseball reference has him saving 76 runs above average and 101 above replacement. That means he saved 36 runs before replacement for a total of 137 runs. That means in 35 starts it is only 3 runs short of 4 runs a game. Wow.

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