Jul 13, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) catches a ball hit by Los Angeles Angels left fielder J.B. Shuck (39) during the 6th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Felix Hernandez is the First Half American League Cy Young

The All-Star break has become the pseudo half way point in the season, and serves as a time to reflect on the first half of the year. And part of what accompanies that is giving out first half awards, or making predictions for who will win the awards at the end of the season.

While the Mariners had a disappointing first half overall, they do have one player who fits the bill for a first half award. That player is King Felix Hernandez, who is the current front runner for the American League Cy Young Award.

Felix has kind of flown under the radar this year, or so it seems. I have not heard much about him outside of Seattle media, and it seems people aren’t taking notice of the fact that he is even better than normal.

In fact, I wrote a post at fansided.com about the AL Cy Young about a month ago, and based the candidates on who was mentioned on MLB Network. And Felix was not even included, much less the leader.

But since then, Felix has continued his surge, while others have either stayed static, or fallen behind. These names include Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Clay Buchholtz and our own Hisashi Iwakuma.

But when you really get into it, Felix has been the best pitcher in the American League to this point. He currently leads the league in ERA (2.53), FIP (2.66), xFIP (2.71) and fWAR (4.1) among qualified starters. That is pretty much the quadruple crown when it comes to sabermetric views of pitching.

If you dig a little deeper, you see that he has a 9.09 K/9, good for 5th in the AL, a 1.69 BB/9, good for 4th in the league, and a 0.71 HR/9, good for 8th in the league.

There is also no signs of him being lucky, as he has a .311 BABIP, and 10.3% HR/FB, both of which are higher than average. So it seems everything he is doing is legitimate and sustainable.

His main competition right now seems to be Max Scherzer, who is just a spot or two behind Felix in a lot of categories. He is second in FIP at 2.68, third in xFIP at 2.88, and second in fWAR at 4.0.

And while those numbers show he is clearly behind the King, voters do still look at Win-Loss record, as lame as it is. And “Mad Max” has the edge right now with thirteen wins and just one loss, while Felix sits at 10-4.

Now, Felix did win the award in 2010 with a 13-12 record, but he also had such a massive lead in ERA that it didn’t matter. People tend to take pitcher wins lighter than they used to, but they still matter in the eyes of some, and that could be a problem for Felix if Max ends up at 20-5.

+Despite that, I think it is safe to say Felix is the AL Cy Young winner of the first half, even without the hype that some of his competition have garnered.

The question that may pop up now is how he compares to his 2010 Cy Young form. Adam Wong at Lookout Landing covered that at the end of June. And while it is slightly outdated, the info is all there, and it is truly a great article. For a more in depth look, check the article out.

Speaking in terms of straight, basic statistical comparison, he has been even better. Below is a comparison of Felix’s 2010 and so far in 2013.

K% BB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR ERA-
2010 23.2% 7.0% 2.53 2.66 2.71 5.5 59
2013 25.6% 4.7% 2.27 3.04 3.14 4.1 62

In a side by side comparison, it is easy to see that Felix has been just as good, if not better than he was in 2010 when he overcame a mediocre record to earn his first Cy Young.

And for some context, if you extrapolate that 4.1 WAR out to the 249.2 innings he threw in 2010 (not that he will throw that many this year, it is just for comparison) you get 7.4 wins above replacement, almost two full wins above what he did in 2010.

Seeing all that, I think it is safe to say that Felix is — or at least should be — the front runner for the AL Cy Young in 2013. That would be an exciting occurrence in what has been — and may continue to be — a disappointing year so far

 

 

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