The baseball writers who don't live in parental basements have spoken, and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers is the unanimous choice for AL Cy Young. This is not very surprising to anyone, as Verlander dominated a multitude of stats, friendly to both the old-school and the new-school. He was the nearly unanimous choice of SBN bloggers, including yours truly, as well.
While mostly all can agree on Verlander, when you look farther down the ballot, the bloggers and the mainstream don't quite agree. As a reminder, the top 5 for the bloggers went: Verlander, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver, James Shields, C.J. Wilson. Now, here's the Baseball Writers Association of America's voting members on this ballot:
|Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers||28||196|
|Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels||17||8||2||1||97|
|James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays||5||9||8||3||66|
|CC Sabathia, New York Yankees||5||7||9||4||63|
|Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers||1||3||6||3||28|
|C.J. Wilson, Texas Rangers||1||7||9|
|Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels||1||1||2||7|
|Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees||4||4|
|Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox||3||3|
|Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays||1||2|
|David Robertson, New York Yankees||1||1
Jew and gentile alike go for Verlander, but after that, the order is shuffled. It's probably not a coincidence that the BBWAA ballot's top 3 line up in order of ERA. Bloggers liked Sabathia in 2nd, most likely because he has the lowest FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) out of any of these guys, including Verlander. With a 3.00 ERA and so many sub-3.00 guys, he only got 4th in the mainstream voting, though.
After that, we see a lot of... wait, what in the hell? Jose Valverde is in 5th place? Valverde received absolutely no votes at all on 24 ballots in the SBN voting, most likely because he has nothing to recommend him except for save totals, and here he is on 13 out of 28 ballots of the BBWAA, with a vote as high as second and a handful of the rest.
Of course, it's the trendy blogger thing to do to make fun of the BBWAA voting, but I do find it incredible that 13 people who presumably have the daily job of covering baseball would think that Valverde was one of the five best pitchers in the American League. The 2.25 ERA wasn't even the best for a relief pitcher! Others like Mariano Rivera (1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) and David Robertson (1.08 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) were better, if not extremely lucky to have the perfect save total. Valverde lived on the edge with a 1.19 WHIP, if not quite as much as, say, Kevin Gregg lives on the edge.
Past that, handfuls of votes in lower positions for starting pitchers with low ERAs, except for some reason nobody loves Doug Fister. That reason is probably his 11-13 record. Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young last year with a 13-12 record, which was a sign that the worm was turning a bit, but good God, you can't just go expecting these BBWAA guys to hand out votes to a pitcher with a sub-.500 record. That would be rank madness.
In the end, much as I think there were some silly votes here, nobody will remember who came in 3rd or 4th or 5th. Actually, I shouldn't say nobody will remember, because the St. Petersburg Times reports that James Shields will get a salary increase of $500,000 in 2012 for placing in 3rd in the voting. So Shields and his agent will remember. Otherwise, Verlander was unanimous, and nearly all of us can agree about that.