Sports by the Numbers MLB Stat of the Week
7 The number of complete games (7) for C.C. Sabathia. He led the N.L. in complete games and shutouts, despite making only 17 starts for the Brewers. Sabathia only made it to 17 starts because for his last three he took the mound on only three days' rest.
9 The number of times (9) Tim Lincecum struck out ten or more batters in a single game. San Francisco's sophomore phenom struck out 265 batters in 227 innings for the highest total and the best ratio (10.51) per nine innings in baseball. Lincecum beat the Dodgers on Sunday to improve his record to 18-5, tying a career high with 13 strikeouts, including the first nine outs of the game.
41 The number of saves (41) for Brad Lidge. He struck out 92 batters in 69-plus innings, and he truly was "Lights Out" Lidge once again. He gave up only 50 hits and 15 earned runs, but of greater significance is the fact he did not blow a single save.
296 The earned run average (2.96) for Ryan Dempster. That puts him fourth in the league, but behind only two other contenders: Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum. Dempster tied for third with 17 wins, was fourth in winning percentage, and third in fewest hits per nine innings.
759 The winning percentage (.759) for Brandon Webb. Arizona's ace led the league with a 22-7 record. Webb was fourth in innings, tied for third in complete games, and third in winning percentage.
Other contenders: Johan Santana led the league with a 2.53 earned run average and 234-plus innings. He was 9-0 in his final 16 starts, during which time the Mets were 13-3. Jose Valverde led the league after saving 44 games for the Astros. He led the league with 47 saves for the Diamondbacks last season, but only placed sixth in Cy Young balloting. Santana should be on a lot of ballots, but Valverde will probably get no more support than he did last year. Ted Lilly, Roy Oswalt, and Edinson Volquez all tied Ryan Dempster for the third highest total in the league with 17 wins.
Two of my top five contenders are out of the playoff picture - Webb and Lincecum.
Webb is a former Cy Young recipient, but check out what he did against teams in his own division - the N.L. Worst. Webb was a combined 9-1 vs. Colorado, San Francisco, and San Diego, but he was only 1-2 vs. the team he had to beat out West, the Dodgers - including two horrific starts where he gave up 13 earned runs in nine innings, losing to LA twice in a week during the stretch run. Arizona won 82 games, LA just 84.
Tim Lincecum was the best pitcher in the league. I know sometimes we tend to get overly excited by high strikeout totals, but this guy was 18-5 for a team that hit only 94 home runs all season. Look it up, the Giants offense was really that bad. The Giants outscored the Padres by three runs or they would have been the lowest scoring team in baseball.
San Francisco was 72-90, which makes me believe that if Lincecum had been pitching for the Mets that, well, they still would have found a way to miss the postseason - but Lincecum would have won 20 games easily, for the Mets, Marlins, Astros, Diamondbacks, any of those teams that had a glimmer of hope for the postseason when September came around.
What about the other guys?
Dempster deserves some votes, but not the award. There is no question in my mind that Brad Lidge was a huge reason the Phillies won the East by three games - but not a Cy Young deserving reason.
Which brings us to the really big question, should we even consider Sabathia?
What about his performance on Sunday that got the Brewers into the postseason? You know, the one where he told his manager to give him the ball on short rest again, that he would win the game - and then he did.
Well, it was way cool.
The Cy Young, however, is for a season - not a moment.
I have no doubt that Milwaukee would have missed the playoffs if Sabathia was traded somewhere else, but Tim Lincecum was the best pitcher in the N.L. for the past six months - and that is who my fictitious vote is for.