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Looking Back At The 2003 AL Cy Young Race

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Being a White Sox fan, it always bothered me that Roy Halladay won the 2003 AL Cy Young award so handily.  I'm not saying he wasn't a deserving recipient, just that I feel Esteban Loazia could have won it just as easily.  Using this train of thought and the free time an off day provides, I decided to delve a little deeper into this and actually use stats to see if the voting was as egregious as the 15-year old version of myself believed it to be.  We'll focus mainly on the pitchers that received the top five amount of votes.

Rank Name Team Vote Pts. 1st Place Share
1 Roy Halladay TOR 136 26 97
2 Esteban Loazia CHW 63 2 45
3 Pedro Martinez BOS 20 0 14
4 Tim Hudson OAK 15 0 11
5 Jamie Moyer SEA 12 0 9

 

I've decided to judge the results by eight categories, assigning players points based on their respective rankings.  The player with the lowest amount of points will be the player that perhaps should have won.  One semi-interesting thing (at least to me) to notice before we actually get started is that none of these five pitchers are in the AL anymore, with Loaiza being done and Pedro potentially coming back to the Phillies mid-season.

The first thing I decided to look at was how each players' team finished in the standings, as this tends to be something the sportswriters seem to place value in.  Only Tim Hudson's team actually won their division, but the other four teams all finished above .500 with the Toronto Blue Jays finishing the furthest from the playoffs due to being in the AL East.  In that same vein, the next category will be wins.  I know this is something not valued by most of us, but once again I am trying to combine our mindset with that of those who actually get to vote.  Halladay comes in first with 22, Moyer and Loazia tied for second with 21 each, Hudson finished fourth with 16, and Pedro's lack of innings hurt him by making him finish with only 14.  The final category in this part is ERA.  Moyer posted the worst with a 3.27, then Halladay (3.25), Loazia (2.90), Hudson (2.70), and Pedro (2.22!).  The American League would have to wait until 2008 and 2009 before three starting pitchers would again finish with ERAs belows 3.  I decided to include innings pitched, because I believe that durability adds a good chunk of value (look at Carlos Zambrano, durability is pretty much the only reason other than his ridiculous contract to keep him as a starting pitcher).  This is the only spot other than wins where Pedro didn't excel.  Halladay pitched a ridiculous 266 innings, Hudson 240, Loazia 226.1, Moyer 215, and Martinez 186.2.

Now we get to the four categories I prefer more.  I view ERA+ and WAR as incredibly easy ways to rank how the pitchers compared that season.  Moyer managed to get the same ranking in both, dead last by a bit of a long shot (132 and 3.6).  Halladay finished fourth in ERA+ (145), but first in WAR (8).  Hudson almost managed to do the opposite, ranking second in ERA+ (165) and fourth in WAR (6.3).  Loazia finished in the middle of the pack for both (159 and 7.2).  Martinez absolutely dominated ERA+ (211!) and only lost the WAR crown to Halladay by .1 (7.9) despite pitching 80 less innings.  I went with K/9 instead of just going with strikeouts, because I felt the plain total was misleading.  Loaiza led the league with 207, but Martinez finished second with 206 in 40 less innings.  Which is more impressive?  Unsurprisingly, Pedro and Esteban ranked first and second with K/9s of 9.9 and 8.2 respectively.  Roy came in third with 6.9, Tim took fourth with 6.1, and Jamie finished last again with 5.4.  The final category I picked was WHIP, as an attempt to judge how much control the pitcher had that season.  Martinez finished in first (1.039), followed by Halladay (1.071), Hudson (1.075), Loazia (1.113), and Moyer (1.233).  I feel like this has started to become an exercise in dumping on Jamie Moyer.  He had a good season that year, it just wasn't really in the range of the other four pitchers' 2003.

Here's a nice table for those playing along at home:

Pitcher Team Record Wins ERA IP ERA+ K/9 WHIP WAR
Halladay 4 1 4 1 4 3 2 1
Loazia 4 2 3 3 3 2 4 3
Martinez 2 5 1 5 1 1 1 2
Hudson 1 4 2 2 2 4 3 4
Moyer 3 2 5 4 5 5 5 5

 

My "scientific" method resulted in the following point totals (keep in mind, a lower score is better):

1. Pedro Martinez- 18

2. Roy Halladay- 20

3. Tim Hudson- 22

4. Esteban Loazia-24

5. Jamie Moyer- 34

This...is not what I expected, but not really that surprising.  Pedro Martinez dominated the American League like no other pitcher when he joined up with the Red Sox, posting of at least 190 in 5 of his 7 seasons.  It comes as no shock that 2003 happened to be one of those seasons.  The bigger surprise to me was well Tim Hudson fared in this exercise, though I realize he got quite the boost from my inclusion of team records.  Sorry Esteban, it looks like you were overvalued if anything.