Will King Félix Reign as Cy Young?
It's an age old debate in baseball: Is a virtuoso player on a dreadful team more valuable than a comparable athlete, with slightly less impressive stats, on a winning team?
To some extent, that question will be answered Thursday when Major League Baseball announces its winner of the American League Cy Young award.
That debate is perfectly personified in the form of Félix Hernández, the outstanding starting pitcher for the lowly Seattle Mariners, and his likely competitors for the award, New York Yankees CC Sabathia and the Tampa Bay Rays David Price.
Hernández, who is from Venezuela, had a stellar 2010 season: the 24-year-old righted-handed pitcher pitched in 34 games, 249.2 innings, and struck out 232 hitters. His earned run average was 2.27.
But his team lost 101 games and finished last in the American League West.
On the other hand, Sabathia, the 30-year-old lefty ace, had fewer strikeouts and a higher ERA (197 and 3.18, respectively), but he led the Yankees to 95 winnings, the American League Wild Card berth, and to the A.L. Championship Series.
Price didn't pitch as well as Hernández, either. But the 24-year-old left-handed flamethrower won 19 games and helped the Rays win the American League East with 96 wins.
There is precedent for an outstanding pitcher on a losing team winning the award. Just last year, Zack Greinke was named Cy Young even though his Kansas City Royals finished last in the A.L. Central.
The announcement will be made Thursday afternoon.
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