Sports by the Numbers MLB Stat of the Week
62 The number of saves (62) for Frankie Rodriguez. K-Rod set a new standard for closers as the Angels ran away with their division. He struck out 77 batters in 68-plus innings, allowing 54 hits and 17 earned runs.
687 The ratio (6.87) of hits per nine innings for Daisuke Matsuzaka. He was Boston's ace, posting the best ratio in the league. Dice-K gave up only 128 hits in 167-plus innings. He also led the Red Sox in earned run average (2.90) and wins (18), and he was second in the league in winning percentage (.857).
880 The winning percentage (.880) for Cliff Lee. The Indians' ace led the league with the 12th best winning percentage in baseball history after posting a 22-3 record for a team that was only 81-81. Lee also led the league in earned run average (2.54), wins, and lowest ratio of walks per nine innings (1.37).
Other contenders: Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina both won 20 games, and Halladay led the league with nine complete games. A.J. Burnett won 18 games and led the league with 231 strikeouts. Ervin Santana won 16 games and was second with 214 strikeouts.
What kind of support did they get?
Boston scored five or more runs in 19 of 29 starts for Dice-K, while Cleveland scored five or more runs in only 15 of 31 starts for Cliff Lee. Boston's offense was the second highest scoring in the league, compared to Cleveland (fifth), New York (sixth), LA Angels (ninth), and Toronto (tenth).
Toronto's pitching staff was the best in the league, but the LA Angels' staff was third best, ensuring that K-Rod got a lot of opportunities to close out games.
Who gets the nod?
I like playoff bound guys, and I prefer starters over closers, and guys who make a big impact for their team. Cliff Lee was a much better pitcher than Dice-K this year, no question - but he's on vacation as of today, as are the guys for New York and Toronto, meanwhile Boston and the Angels are gearing up for October.
I bet the actual voting comes down to Cliff Lee vs. K-Rod, but here I have it down to Dice-K vs. K-Rod.
Boston won the Wild Card, while the Angels won their division by 21 games. I guess there are a couple of ways to look at K-Rod then - either his team could have won their division with anybody closing, or the reason they won by so many games is at least in part due to their closer.
Boston won the Wild Card by six games, but lost their division by two. I'm almost swayed to give Dice-K the nod because Boston won seven of his starts consecutively at a crucial time, beginning on August 3.
I really do not like seeing the Cy Young go to a closer, but in this case, the best starter in the league missed the playoffs while the best closer in the league won his division by a large margin. If the choice is between the best playoff bound starter and the best playoff bound closer, then I'm reluctantly going to give my fictitious vote to K-Rod.