When I started writing Rounding Third and Heading Home, my goal was to express my view of sports in a straight forward, intelligent fashion. I didn't want to be a an overly emotional blogger that constantly rambled and complained. But I am going to deviate from that style today because of something I read about the 2008 NL Cy Young Award. San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum was the runaway winner of the award, being listed first on 23 of the 32 of the ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks was second in the voting and Johan Santana of the New York Mets was third. Arguments can be made that either Webb or Santana were the best pitcher in the NL but there is no argument that Lincecum, Webb, and Santana were the three best pitchers in the National League in 2008. (I don't include CC Sabathia because he was not in the NL for the full season).
This brings us to Chicago Sun-Times writer Chris De Luca who didn't put Lincecum anywhere on his ballot. He listed Brandon Webb first, Brad Lidge second, and Johan Santana third. As I said earlier, a case can be made for Webb but it is beyond understanding how De Luca could leave Lincecum completely off his ballot. In an interview with San Francisco Chronicle writer John Shay, De Luca defended his ballot by saying:
"I thought Webb's victories (22) stood out to me more than anything, and Lincecum didn't have the victories. Twenty victories was a big deal. We had a stretch there where no one was hitting 20."
Saying that Webb deserved the award over Lincecum because he was the winning pitcher in more games shows that De Luca has absolutely no clue on how to evaluate the performance of a baseball player. In the same number of innings pitched as Webb, Lincecum allowed fewer homeruns, had more strikeouts, and had a lower ERA and WHIP. The only reson Webb won 22 games to Lincecum's 18 is because the Diamondbacks were a significantly better team than the Giants. I can't imagine any baseball writer not understanding the win statistic alone is not a meaningful tool in evaluating a pitcher's ability or accomplishments. But Chris De Luca demonstrated that understanding the game of baseball is not a requirement for being a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.