No Regard

July 7, 2008

The Campaign Starts Now

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — hoyler @ 9:48 pm

Andy Sonnanstine For 2008 AL Cy Young

Sonny for Cy(Courtesy Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

No, this is not a joke. Any Photoshop wizards care to create a campaign logo? My undying gratitude to anyone who steps up.

OK, so this past weekend I predicted Andy Sonnanstine would finish third in the AL Cy Young voting. He promptly went out and threw seven shutout innings. I took that as a sign.

Rather than link to that post, I’ll use some of the points I made there as a rehash to build the blocks for my Sonny for Cy 2008 campaign. I’ll give you one good reason every day this week. Since I’m starting today, I’ll give you two reasons, starting with the best reason this could happen.

1. The BBWAA’s Cy Young voters are STUPID.

Well, almost all of their award voters (and thus, their membership) are, but if there’s one thing that has held true over the past few controversial Cy Young votes, it’s the wins and pitching for a contender are the trump card in seemingly close races.

Just three pitchers – Joe Saunders (12), Mike Mussina and Cliff Lee (11 each) – have more wins than Sonnantine. But none of them pitch for the best team in baseball. In fact, Mussina and Lee are longshots to make the playoffs at this point, and Mussina’s statistics aren’t much better than Sonny’s. Joe Saunders has a fielding-independent ERA of 4.30, more than a run and a quarter higher than his current ERA of 3.04. Why? He’s allowed 13 HR in 112 innings, his strikeout to walk ratio is under 2 to 1, and, most telling, his batting average on balls in play is under .250. All unsustainable rates for a guy who looks like a Cy Young contender right now. Who knows, maybe Saunders stays lucky all year, but I’m going to bet that Sonnanstine’s 8 HRs allowed in 109 innings, strikeout to walk ratio of 3.5 to 1 and highly unlikely BABIP of .334 are all more telling of a strong second half and subsequent run at the Cy Young.

So that leaves Cliff Lee, who, by all peripheral statistics, is the best candidate to win the award at this point. He hasn’t been overly lucky, his fielding-independent ERA is right in line with his current ERA (2.36 to 2.43), and up until his last five starts he was winning despite average run support (he has benefitted from one big game, where the Tribe scored 15, but his other high run support starts came in quality efforts). I’ll just hope he regresses to his 2007 form, because there’s nothing concrete to say he’s falling off.

2. He has plenty of chances to win.

Sonnanstine has 10 wins, tied with Vicente Padilla (ha ha ha ha…yeah), Roy Halladay (very real candidate, bad team) and Gavin Floyd (good candidate, above average team). But let’s pretend that he controls his own destiny…

@ Cleveland – 9th in AL in runs
VS Oakland – 10th in AL
@ KC – 13th in AL
VS Detroit – 7th in AL
VS Cleveland – 9th in AL
@ Oakland – 10th in AL
@ Texas- 1st in AL
@ Chicago – 4th in AL
VS Baltimore – 8th in AL
VS New York – 6th in AL
@ Boston – 2nd in AL
VS Boston – 2nd in AL
VS Minnesota – 3rd in AL
@ Baltimore – 8th in AL

Those are his projected starts the rest of the way, assuming he slots after Kazmir, Shields and Garza after the ASB. Five against top-end offenses, four against mid-level offenses, five against low-end offenses. Pretty even, right?

So let’s breakdown prior performance. Sonny has struggled this year against the Yankees and A’s but has pitched extremely well against Texas and Chicago. He has also dominated Baltimore and Kansas City. He has three starts against the former two teams and four against the latter four. Even, if not in Sonny’s favor.

His home and road statistics are remarkably similar, except for the ERA, which, again, can be pointed to uncontrollable factors like BABIP.

Sonny’s record is going to depend on whether he can get through six innings and how many runs the Rays give him. Save for his six-stretch run last month where he went 5+ every time (going 2-1 with 3 NDs), he went 6+ innings in 10 of 11 starts. I’ll bank on that being his true form and the six-start stretch being his long rough patch for the season. FYI, he’s 8-2 in starts where he goes 6 or more.

Obviously a lot depends on the matchup that night for the Rays bats, but the only ones on there where I really see him struggling are at Texas and at Boston. That gives him 12 more realistic chances to win.

I know, this all seems really far fetched, but it’s fun to root for the underdog and there are plenty of other factors that make Sonnanstine a realistic longshot to emerge over the next couple of months as a sleeper Cy Young candidate. Check back throughout the week for detailed explanations of those factors.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Yesterday, I started the first of what I hope is a week-long series on why Andy Sonnanstine is a real darkhorse candidate for the 2008 Cy Young. You can read the first part of it here. […]

    Pingback by The Campaign Continues « No Regard — July 8, 2008 @ 8:06 pm


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