There are many elite pitchers in the American League, and this year is no exception. Verlander, Price, Sale, and King Felix Hernandez, or “Fe-Fe” as Brendan Ryan calls him. A case can be made for any of those four. They all bring something to the table that maybe the others do not. However, I don’t think you can make as strong of a case for “the others” as you can for Felix.
I say that for two reasons.
For one, he has the stats to back him up. In 27 starts this year he has a 2.43 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 3.31 xFIP line, along with 8.42 K/9, 2.11 BB/9, and 0.50 HR/9. All that adds up and gives him a 5.2 WAR.
Of the four candidates I mentioned, Felix is best in ERA, FIP, BB/9, and HR/9, and is second in WAR. Those are some of the more important statistics. The only category he is last of the four in is strikeouts, and those aren’t nearly as important when you are getting people out anyway, and have the best defense in the league behind you.
The best part of it is that while some of the other candidates are starting to flatten out, Felix is surging. He has been at him best over his last 14 starts, as he is 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA, 100 Ks, 17 walks and a perfect game against the Rays. Felix had his rough patch at the beginning of the year, while some his competition is either in theirs, or look to be entering it.
If all that isn’t enough, there are five things (foreshadowing, foreshadowing) that stats won’t show. Those being his 5 complete game shutouts on the year, the most in the AL since 1988. What’s even more impressive is that the 5 shutouts came against the Rays, Twins, Yankees, Rangers and Red Sox. Three of those teams will be in the playoffs, two of them division winners with offenses that are at or near the top of the league. On top of that, he has two more 8 innings shutouts against the Twins and Indians.
Felix is having his best season since he won the Cy Young in 2009. By the looks of it, this year could end up being even better than ’09. One thing we know for sure is that Felix is going to be one of the best pitchers in the league year in and year out. Lock him up Jack Z. He is the face of the franchise, and worth more than anything you could get in a possible trade.
Felix Hernandez should be the Cy Young in the American League in 2012. Lets just hope the voters see that as well.
*Check http://www.fangraphs.com/library/ if you are unfamiliar with any of the stats I mentioned.