This won’t help the grumbling among some Mariners fans in the aftermath of Felix Hernandez losing out to Cleveland's Corey Kluber earlier this week in tight balloting for the American League's Cy Young Award.
Sabermetric grand master Bill James has a stat that seeks to identify the “World’s No. 1 Starting Pitcher.” The overall winner through 2014, before and after postseason, is Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
That's no surprise. Kershaw was a unanimous choice as the National League's Cy Young winner in balloting by a panel consisting of 30 Baseball Writers' Association of America members. It was also the third time in the last four years that he's won the award.
James’ formula also identifies Hernandez as the American League’s top pitcher. In fact, Kluber isn’t listed among the AL’s top five pitchers or among the top 10 overall.
Now...that's hugely deceptive in one key sense.
James' computation is a stat based on career achievement, which unquestionably hurts Kluber's chances — 2014 was his first full season in the big leagues. Even so, Mariners fans aren't likely to be mollified in their belief that King Felix stands above all others in the American League.
The rest of the AL’s top five in James' rankings: Detroit’s Max Scherzer and David Price, Chicago’s Chris Sale and Oakland’s Jon Lester. James’ full rankings are available in the just-released, 2015 Bill James Handbook.
Hernandez was No. 2 overall to Kershaw through the end of the regular season. Hernandez drops to third, behind San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner when postseason work is included. Bumgarner jumped eight spots because of his postseason heroics.