Monday, August 21, 2006

Santana Continues Dome Dominance

A streak continued and another stopped in yesterday's big 7-3 win over the White Sox. Johan Santana picked up a win, giving him a 15-5 record on the year, including nine at home without a loss and making it over a year since he has lost at the Dome. On the other hand, Michael K-ddyer ended his season-high strikeout streak at 12 games while going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a double.

Santana wasn't what you would call dominant yesterday, striking out only five White Sox batters and not showing his best stuff, but he only gave up six hits in seven innings and didn't walk a batter.

As it is near the end of August, now is the time to start discussing awards and possible victories for our hometown heroes. Santana seems to be in a two-man race for the Cy Young with Toronto's Roy Halladay, who defeated the Orioles yesterday to pick up his league-leading 16th win. Along with the 15-5 record, Santana has 192 Ks to lead the majors, and is first in the AL in BAA (.221), ERA (3.03), innings pitched (184.1) and WHIP (1.03). Santana ranks second in the AL wins with 15, and third in winning percentage at .750. Also, as usual, he's doing great in other, lesser-known stats, such as K/BB ratio (5.05, second in AL), quality starts (18, second in AL), 1.08 GB/FB ratio (only 25th in the AL, but up from 2004 and 2005), K/9 (9.37, second behind Scott Kazmir). Incidentally, his run support of 4.82 runs per game ranks 32nd in the AL, behind big names like Joel Pineiro, Rodrigo Lopez, and Paul Byrd.

Halladay, just as Johan's competition last year, only leads him in wins, by one (16), and winning percentage (.842). Naturally, Hallday has gotten extra support from his offense this year, getting 6.56 runs per game in support, 9th in the AL. In every other major category, Halladay is behind Santana. Halladay ranks third in the league in ERA (3.18), second in WHIP (1.10) and innings pitched (184). He doesn't even register on the strikeout leaders list, having only struck out 104 batters, good for a meager 5.09 K/9 rate. Of course, a 4.16 K/BB ratio is outstanding, but very few pitchers can have the control Johan does while striking out so many hitters.

Is Santana the front-runner right now then? If you listen to guys like Rob Neyer he is, but most of the media and voters love that all-important "win" stat. Right now, its a tight race. The hope is, if things stay on course, Johan will make it to 20 wins along with Halladay. If he can, the vote should follow suit to 2004, in which Curt Schilling had 21 wins, one more than Johan, but lost out because of how dominant Santana was. Right now, they are tied in ERA+ at 149 (a stat, which for those who don't know, incorportates ballpark factors and the league average) for tops in the AL. Keep in mind that it's been a hitter's year, with the league average ERA at 5.70 and a .271 league batting average.

Obviously, Santana deserving, but we have to wait another month. If Johan wins 20 and the Twins go to the playoffs, it should happen. With the Tigers dropping 8 of their last 11 games and having Chicago, Cleveland and New York as their remaining opponents for the month of August, the Twins' hopes look up. Tuesday the Twins start a series in Baltimore. Facing a team with little hope on the horizon, the Twins should take their opportunity to win some easy games.