Marlins 2011 Cy Young: Anibal SanchezBy
The opening of a new stadium and a new city are certainly going to usher in a different era of baseball in Florida. However, before anyone can forget the 2011 Marlins, it’s worthwhile to award the team’s end-of-season trophies to the deserving players. Last week we examined the Marlins MVP for this past season. The winner, which should come as no surprise, was Mike Stanton. Now, it’s time to recognize the most valuable pitchers from the team in 2011 by handing out the ‘Cy Young’ award. Note: These awards are not part of the BBWAA, they are solely my opinion.
The Winner: Anibal Sanchez 3.67 ERA 3.35 FIP 3.8 fWAR
Sanchez, a 27-year old righty, has taken some big steps forward this year. Although his ERA and fWAR were slightly better last year, the 2011 version of Sanchez was very much improved. He struck out almost exactly two more batters per nine innings this year (9.26 vs. 7.25) , while also cutting down on how many walks he allowed (2.93 vs. 3.23).The reason his ERA or fWAR can be misleading is because these statistics don’t include his Homerun/Flyball rates in their calculations. In 2010, Sanchez benefited from the fact that an extremely low number of flyballs hit against him turned into home runs. While pitchers do have some control over whether flyballs hit against them become outs or home runs, there is a lot of luck and randomness involved. Not surprisingly, this year his HR/FB rate was back around league average at 10.4%.
Regardless of his HR/FB rate, Sanchez has been the Marlins best pitcher this season. He led the team in ERA, FIP, fWAR, as well as in xFIP among the team’s starters who threw at least 80 innings. His 8-9 Win/Loss record doesn’t do him justice, but I think Marlins fans could recognize his record was not an accurate reflection of his performance.
Without the team’s superstar, Josh Johnson, for most of the year, Sanchez was the Marlins most valuable pitcher. He put together a solid season, and if he can continue to improve like he did this year, he may present a threat to Johnson as the team’s “ace” next year, as well as further down the road.
The Runner-up: Javier Vazquez 3.69 ERA 3.57 FIP 3.2 fWAR
Strictly according to fWAR, Ricky Nolasco was actually ahead of Javier Vazquez by .3 of a “win.” However, that number is such a small difference that it is relatively insignificant. Instead, I went with Vazquez for a combination of a few different reasons. According to ERA and FIP, Vazquez fared slightly better, and he also struck out about one batter per nine innings more than Nolasco (7.57 vs. 6.47). Not to mention the impressive 25-inning scoreless streak Javier went on towards the end of the season, which helped me to make a decision between the two. Anyhow, between these pitchers, either one is a very legitimate choice. You could certainly make a case for Nolasco, on the basis of his very unlucky BABIP of .331, which, if regressed to league average would make his numbers look much better. To further that support that claim, Vazquez’s stats could also be regressed to a more luck-nuetral environment-he was quite lucky with only a .279 BABIP against him. However, while both were quality starters, Vazquez was a bit more impressive, which is why he is the Runner-up.
All data is from FanGraphs.