Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reusse Speaks Again

Patrick Reusse wrote a blurb in his column today about Johan Santana's third-place Cy Young finish, which may or may not be in response to the e-mail I wrote him last week criticizing him. Here's what he said:

"Twins followers and statistical freaks continue to complain that Johan Santana was robbed in voting for another major award: AL's Cy Young.

These folks want Santana to receive full credit for going 6-2 with a 1.09 ERA in his final 10 starts -- domination that took place in garbage time of a lost season for the Twins.

It was in his previous 10 starts the Twins needed Santana to dominate. That's when they were going from 35-22 and 4 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central to 58-56 and 16 ½ games behind the Mighty Whities (and from 7 ahead to 4 behind Cleveland).

Santana was 3-4 with a humdrum 4.64 ERA in that decisive stretch of the season, making a third-place Cy Young finish a generous reward."

My response to Reusse:

On the surface, this is a valid point. However, there are several fallacies in the argument. For one thing, each and every game played on the 162-game schedule is of the exact same importance, it's not like you get more points for winning in August as opposed to winning in April. If you want to make the argument that pitching well "down the stretch" is of such utter importance, though, it is still difficult to craft a convincing argument in Bartolo Colon's favor. While Colon did have a great month of August, posting a 1.72 ERA and a 5-0 record, his ERA in September was 4.91 (at a time that the Angels had by no means clinched the AL West) and in July it was a ghastly 6.12. He still won six games over this stretch thanks to something called run support which Santana very rarely received. Santana, on the other hand, posted earned run averages of 3.45 in July, 1.75 in August, and 1.29 in September. Now you can make the argument that the Twins were already out of it by this point, but you seem to forget that he lead them on a hot streak that brought them within a few games of the Wild Card, highlighted by the dramatic pitcher's duel against Freddy Garcia and the White Sox where Johan pitched 8 innings without allowing a run and Jacque Jones' solo home run was enough for the Twins to garner a 1-0 victory.

Any way you look at it, Santana had the better season. What it all comes down to is run support. In the combined months of July, August and September, Santana clearly pitched better, posting a lower ERA each month and a significantly lower opponent's batting average in August and September. However, during that span Santana won a total of only 8 games while Colon won 11. How this makes the Colon the better pitcher, I will never understand.