November 14th, 2013

The rationale behind the Anibal Sanchez Cy Young vote

Nobody should’ve expected Max Scherzer to be a unanimous selection for Cy Young. For me, even getting 28 out of 30 votes was a surprise. The bigger surprise to me, though, was the amount of statistical work that some voters put into selecting many of these guys. While some strong supporters of sabermetric rail against the value of the win, I think some on that side have pushed to put too much weight on one or two advanced metrics, such as Fielding Independent Pitching.

Mike Berardino, for instance, considered 13 different statistical categories for his Cy Young vote, from wins to ERA, from FIP to xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching). And he came to the surprising but respectable conclusion that Anibal Sanchez was his first choice. Scherzer received his second-place vote.

It was an excruciating call, but in the end I went with Sanchez because of his clear edge over Scherzer in ERA, FIP and xFIP as well as in the “luck” categories. Sanchez’s BABIP, for instance, was .307, slightly above league average, while Scherzer (.259) had the second-lowest BABIP of the seven. Scherzer also received this group’s best run support on his way to those 21 wins.

I could go on and risk boring you further, but believe me when I tell you I put a significant amount of time and thought into this process.

Chris Iott of MLive did something similar, putting together a spreadsheet on paper. Go from market to market, and I think you’ll find more examples.

So if people want to further the movement to discredit the win as a statistic, that’s certainly their right. I think it’s becoming less and less of a weighty stat, for what it’s worth. But the suggestion that Scherzer won because voters didn’t consider an advanced metric enough is just being melodramatic.