September 14, 2000
The Daily Prospectus
Beating the Horse
Who's the best Cy Young candidate on the Braves?
ERA GS CG ShO IP W-L Tom Glavine 3.62 31 3 1 214.0 19-7 Greg Maddux 3.09 32 6 3 230.1 17-8
As I write this, I don't have updated Support-Neutral or VORP data. Suffice to say Greg Maddux has extended his lead over Tom Glavine since the last time we had this discussion, and is still the best pitcher on the Braves' staff. The only thing Glavine has over him is wins, a statistic that reflects run support and bullpen support as much as it does pitcher performance.
I confess, I am not just an impartial analyst in this matter. Greg Maddux is my favorite pitcher; I love watching him, and I often reconfigure my schedule to watch him pitch. I know he's not the best pitcher in the league this season--Randy Johnson is--but if we're giving away Cy Young Awards to undeserving pitchers, can we at least get the right one?
The BBWAA got it right in 1999, picking the better pitcher over the one with more wins. They got it wrong as recently as 1996, though, when John Smoltz won instead of Kevin Brown, who was the best pitcher in the NL by a fair amount. There's a very real chance they're going to get it wrong again this year. Here's hoping they don't.
Speaking of pitchers who were really, really good in 1992, check out this performance since a disabled-list trip in June:
ERA GS IP W-L 2.41 15 97.0 9-0
This Roger Clemens guy can pitch a little. Clemens has allowed just two runs in his last four starts and, if not for that Pedro guy, would be the favorite to win his sixth Cy Young Award. He'll be the Yankees' #1 starter in the playoffs, setting up the possibility that he and Martinez could reprise their May 28 duel in October.
Among analysts, Clemens's greatness is taken for granted. He's one of the ten best pitchers ever, a first-ballot, inner-circle Hall of Famer. I can't help but think that he's never really gotten his full due from fans or the media, though. Perhaps it's because he didn't have a run, like Maddux from 1992 to 1995, that gave his career a discernable peak. Clemens won five Cy Young Awards over a 13-year period, but never more than two in a row (a feat he accomplished twice). His best seasons follow a similar pattern.
I'd like to see Clemens continue his phenomenal performance into the 2000 postseason. He doesn't need the accolades, but if he were to have a four start stretch like he's just had with everyone paying attention, it might finally seal his image in everyone's mind.
Joe Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com.