Quick thoughts: 2010 NL Cy Young Award

There’s really not much to say about Roy Halladay‘s unanimous NL Cy Young Award today. He certainly had the numbers. Good for him.

If there was anything that was surprising, maybe it’s that it was in fact unanimous. When you look at the numbers Halladay put up along with those of Adam Wainwright and Ubaldo Jimenez, who came in second and third, respectively, they were quite similar.

Player CG SHO W L W-L% IP H R ER BB SO ERA HR BF BA OBP SLG OPS Pit Str
Halladay 9 4 21 10 .677 250.2 231 74 68 30 219 2.44 24 993 .245 .271 .373 .645 3568 2441
Wainwright 5 2 20 11 .645 230.1 186 68 62 56 213 2.42 15 910 .224 .274 .330 .604 3356 2166
Jimenez 4 2 19 8 .704 221.2 164 73 71 92 214 2.88 10 894 .209 .299 .311 .610 3600 2176
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/16/2010.

Halladay did have four more complete games than Wainwright and twice as many shutouts as either runner up, and the strikeout difference was negligible. Halladay did pitch 20 more innings than either of the others, which brought his strikeouts up with the others’ but also inflated his hits and homers (as did pitching in Citizens Bank Bandbox).

But then look deeper. Where I think Halladay secured the award was in walks — just 30 in 250 innings, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7:1. And maybe a certain game in Florida in May, but I don’t think you can put too much weight on one game for a season award, particularly when you look at the pitcher who threw a perfect game just a few weeks before — yes, it takes talent to throw one, but a lot of it has to do with luck and good fortune. But as a tiebreaker, a final piece to put him over the top, I can buy that.

In fact, Halladay’s control may be the most impressive stat of the season. Despite so many similar numbers with Wainwright and Jimenez, and despite throwing 20 and 30 more innings than the other two, Halladay was the best one at keeping runners off base — the surest way to victory. The others allowed fewer hits, had lower batting averages and slugging percentages against them, but Halladay bested them in on-base percentage. He faced 83 more batters than Wainwright and 99 more than Jimenez, threw 212 more pitches than Waino and 32 more than Ubaldo, but it was Doc who threw more strikes by a huge margin: 2,441 to 2,166 (Wainwright) and 2,176 (Jimenez). In fact, only Jimenez (who led the NL), Ryan Dempster (3,596) and Randy Wolf (3,575) threw more pitches this season, but Halladay threw 170 more strikes than the runner-up (Matt Cain). And only Ted Lilly — who threw 660 fewer pitches than Halladay — had a better strike percentage, and by one point at that, 69-68 percent.

So if there’s one thing we can be sure about, it’s that Halladay didn’t win it merely because he led the league in wins or was second in strikeouts. When you look deeper, it’s clear just how good he was in 2010, mainly because he kept runners off the bases.

Oh, and those 24 homers Halladay gave up? Nineteen were solo shots … and the other five were two-run jobs.

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