Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is Cliff Lee The Worst?



Allow me to introduce myself: I am what one might call a "pot-stirrer". I'm constantly surrounded by fans of Ohio sports teams yet I hate all of them (except for my Cavs, Mo Williams = championship?). Thus, I am forced to listen to the mindless drivel regarding "next year is our year" and "we've got some real talent in the minors" and "I root for Ohio State, do you want to fight me and my ten friends". This baseball season, though, has been a nice change of pace. The Reds and Indians are arguably the two worst teams in their respective leagues and their fans have long since begun talking only of football. But there is one turd that has risen above the punchbowl this season and that man is Cliff Lee.

Barring some catastrophic misfortune the likes of which have never been seen before, Lee is going to win the Cy Young award in the American League. The only real competition, in my opinion, was squashed Tuesday night by Mariano Rivera blowing his first save of the year (the competition being Mike Mussina, who was also left for dead this offseason much like Lee, and not Mo). So let's all agree that Clifton Lee is going to win this award. And I really hate to admit that, too, because I've always felt that he sucks. The guy was pitching in Buffalo last year for God's sake! The point of today's post is to determine if Lee would be the worst recipient of the Cy Young Award since my birth in 1980. The contenders:

1981 Fernando Valenzuela (Dodgers), 13-7, 2.48
How did they let this happen? Obviously, I was only 1 during this season, but how can a pitcher with only 13 wins be named the best? Was the National League just as shitty then as it is now? Valenzuela was a fairly solid pitcher over the course of his career but I think he ate himself out of the league. But that's what happens when you smother yourself in guacamole before you take the bump every 5 days.



2003 Eric Gagne (Dodgers), 55 saves, 1.20
Don't get me wrong, this was a season of complete DOMINATION for the French Canadian. But knowing now about what he did to himself back then, it puts a massive red flag on annointing Gagne's 2003 season as immortal as far as closers go. Even setting aside the fact that he did copious amounts of performance-enhancing drugs, it's been less than 5 years and he's now one of the worst relievers in the sport. At least we always knew that Bobby Thigpen was incredibly lucky, Gagne had us fooled back then.

1993 Jack McDowell (White Sox), 22-10, 3.37
I actually kind of liked McDowell but I can pinpoint exactly when he lost his confidence as a pitcher. When he was with the Yankees and gave up the hit in the '95 ALDS to Edgar Martinez to lose the series...ugh, that was the last time that a sporting event made me cry. I'm serious, it broke my heart. Anyway, he is also known for flipping off the Yankee faithful after getting his ass boo'ed off the field after one dreadful start. As far as his Cy Young season, any time you have double digit losses, you shouldn't get the award. I like the name "Jack McDowell" though; kind of makes him sound like an Irish assassin or some other cool job.



1996 Pat Hentgen (Blue Jays), 20-10, 3.22
I've been sitting at my desk for the last 15 minutes trying to figure out how Pat Hentgen won a Cy Young award. I mean, just on face value, the numbers are pretty good. But how could anyone devalue their vote by saying "Yep, Hentgen is the best pitcher in the league this season". I don't even think that the Jays were good that season (I will absolutely not research stats of the '96 Blue Jays). This is about as bad as Pat Listach winning Rookie of the Year as far as the "some random guy coming out of nowhere" scenario goes.

2002 Barry Zito (A's), 23-5, 2.75
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I am old enough to remember when Zito was actually a frontline starting pitcher in baseball. I'm not joking, kids, it's true. Now you young punks only know him as the worst starter in baseball over the past two years, but it happened. Zito had great numbers that season but has managed to get worse and worse with each dollar he makes. It's bizarre. No, not that he sucks, but that his agent conned some stupid GM into giving his client 126 million.



2005 Bartolo Colon (Angels), 21-8, 3.48
This fat fuck should have never won it in the first place. If Colon was the best option that the AL had, they should have just abstained from giving out the award that year. The guy has always been in worse physical shape than David Wells. He pitched in goddamn Pawtucket for a stretch this year and he's about as durable as one-ply toilet paper. Like I said, they should have just sat on the award that year and given two awards to Johan Santana in 2006. You know, like a Cy Young Skins game. That would have made more sense than honoring baseball's version of country virtuoso, Roy Clark.

So where does Clifton from Benton, Arkansas stack up amongst these titans? I actually have to eat some crow here because looking at Lee's numbers over his entire career, he really isn't that bad. I think he's something like 30 games over .500 which absolutely blew my mind. Now he is absolutely not a great pitcher and definitely hasn't earned the right to have his career validated with this award, but looking at some of the wastes that have won this before, he definitely isn't the worst. I guess if I had to rank these 7 from not deserving to a complete fucking embarrassment to the game, I would go:

McDowell, Valenzuela, Lee, Hentgen, Gagne, Zito, and The Dominican Michelin Man, Colon

So there you go, Tribe fans. This is me throwing you a bone. I am admitting that Cliff Lee is not nearly as bad as I thought he was. There have been much, much worse. Now you can all sit back and enjoy this post for the next 11 months before the next fire sale that GM Mark Shapiro throws.

24 comments:

Scott @ WFNY said...

I'm not sure how he's "bad." He may not be a huge name, but he won 114+ in three straight years. Was fourth in the Cy Young voting in '05 (an 18-win season). If not for an ab injury last year - the reason for Buffalo - his numbers are right where they should be. Perhaps the ERA is a bit lower than BABIP would reflect, but to say he's one of the worst?

scott @ wfny said...

that should be "won 14+"

J Beanie said...

I'm so proud of you G$. You swallowed your pride (a bit of a change of pace from what you are used to swallowing) and actually made a somewhat logical comment. Cliff Lee is the best pitcher in baseball this year. Remember how he started the year 8-0 and didn't give up an earned run for something like 38 innings? That's pretty special. However, Lee doesn't deserve to be even mentioned as one worst Cy Young winners of all time. Like Scott @ wfny said, he as been a very consistent pitcher for a long time. I think he was the winningest pitcher in MLB from 04-06.

Mac G said...

Nice List. What about SD reliever Mark Davis winning the CY in 1989? Who? Exactly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Davis_(baseball)

Matt said...

When Francisco Rodriguez wins it after breaking the saves record, will you amend this post, replacing all mentions of Lee with "K-Rod"?

Tony B. said...

I hate Gagne winning the '03 Cy Young. I know he had a dominant season, but let us remember the All-Star game where he gave up a homer to Hank Blaylock costing the NL the game and home-field advantage. On the biggest stage that he was going to pitch on that year, he folded up.

Jason Schmidt (17-5, 2.34 ERA, 208 Ks) should've won that year (followed closely by Mark Prior- 18-6, 2.43 ERA, 245 Ks.)

GMoney said...

I don't think K-Rod will win it. How can you deny a guy who is going to win 21-22 games with maybe only 3 losses and leads the league in ERA? AND he pitches for the worst team in the league.

In my genius mind, Cliff Lee will always be bad though. But only 5th worst in the last 20+ years.

Anonymous said...

FYI: 1981 was a strike shortened season.

rstiles said...

Vote for Mo Rivera instead

Anonymous said...

Mark Davis (44 saves, 1.85 ERA) had a better Cy Young season in 1989 than Steve Bedrosian did (40 saves, 2.83 ERA) in his Cy Young year of 1987.

GMoney said...

Now come on guys, let's not start a war over Mark Davis and Steve Bedrosian here. Cooler heads must prevail.

Anonymous said...

Cliffy is having a great season and should be rewarded for having to play with this dreadful team all year.

From the "guys that came out of nowhere category" how about Bob Hamelin winning AL MVP in 1994? Manny came in second. I am pretty sure Hamelin never had another at bat in the majors.

-Damman

James said...

This post is poorly researched.

If you dive deeper into the numbers (besides just W-L record, which, as any educated baseball fan knows is more worthless than the save statistic), you'd find that Hentgen, Gagne, Zito, and eventually Lee are all pretty deserving of the award.

Valenzuela won because he played on a winning team and had a funny leg kick - Nolan Ryan shoulda won it that year.

McDowell won because he won 20 games - Randy Johnson shoulda won that year.

Bartolo Colon beating Santana for the Cy in 2005 might be THE worst mistake of all time by the voters.

James said...

Damman, I think you mean ROY, not MVP.

Dustin said...

At least Lee wasted his career season when the Indians were one of the worst teams in the AL...even though they'll probably pass the Tigers before the season ends.

Dustin said...

BTW- "Dustin" is Dut

GMoney said...

Yeah, dumbass, Bob "The Hammer" Hamelin was ROY, not MVP. But that doesn't make it right.

Anonymous said...

You're right, my bad. The Hammer should have been MVP, though.

Welcome, Dustin

-Damman

Warning Track Power said...

"I know he had a dominant season, but let us remember the All-Star game where he gave up a homer to Hank Blaylock costing the NL the game and home-field advantage."

This was still when the AS game didn't matter.

White Hammer said...

Indeed, Anon12:34...Losing fifty games to a strike in the 1981 season cost 'Nando ten to twelve starts...Complaining about the low win total shows ignorance of baseball history...

What's next? The 1994 Montreal Expos sucked because they failed to win the World Series?

Tony B. said...

@ Warning Track Power - No it wasn't. Yankees got home-field over the Marlins that year due to the All-Star game. It started that year after the 2002 tie.

Anonymous said...

I knew I saw something similar to this post somewhere else.

jessegscott said...

What about Dontrelle Willis??? anyone?? Terrible he can't get Single A batters out!. I agree Lee is not the Best pitcher in Baseball that answer is Brandon Webb. Hands DOWN. Is Lee deserving of it? Yes.. will he win it?? Yes, most likely. Im voting for KRod if he smashes the saves record.

Anonymous said...

learn to research.

bartolo colon used to be pretty fit. you know, back when he played for the indians. your assertion that he has "always been in worse physical shape than david wells" is a load of bull.

it's funny how similar you are to most ohio sports fans. you do the same things they do, only difference is that you only like the cavs.