Elbo: Rooting for a runner-up

I don't expect that Jason Schmidt will win the Cy Young award, although you could make a case that he's been the best starter in the league this year.

While these guys aren't necessarily a representative sample of the voters, at least some of them do vote, and it appears that nearly everyone is going to vote for Eric Gagne for having the best relief season in memory. I suspect that anyone voting for Schmidt is really trying to send a message that a reliever shouldn't win the award for throwing just 82.1 innings, no matter how good or how important those innings were. It's not too unlike the Matsui flap, really, although the two sportswriters involved in that sordid affair were essentially making up their own rules, not merely expressing an opinion about what constitues a valuable pitcher.

That said, was Schmidt the best starter in the league? He only won 17 games, but of course, Felix blew at least a couple more for him, didn't he? Schmidt led the league in ERA, WHIP, and BAA. Only Livan Hernandez (!) threw more complete games. Schmidt had four times as many strikeouts as walks. Mark Prior had a slightly better ratio, and was a hair behind Schmidt in almost everything else. (To revisit an earlier remark, I believe the plaque itself says "Most Valuable Pitcher," although nobody votes based on who made the playoffs. If it were a factor, the edge would have to go to Prior here, although I doubt the Giants would have gotten to the postseason without Schmidt.) I'd have to rate this one a toss-up.

Gagne's numbers, of course, are astounding. He won't be the first closer to win the Cy Young -- hell, they've given MVP awards to closers before -- but he'll be the first in a long time, and he just finished the best season by a relief pitcher we've ever seen. Hope it looks good on his mantel.


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