Chris Young, Cy Young winner?
Now that Johan Santana has officially crossed over to the National League — go ahead and shave a half run off his ERA — I thought it might be prudent to look into the crystal ball and predict who will win the 2008 National League Cy Young Award.
And, surprise, it’s not Santana, no matter how much I think he’s going to tear through the National League this season.
I’m going with Padres pitcher Chris Young, and I’ve got my reasons.
Let’s backtrack a little. The 2007 season was a tough one on Young, who first suffered through an oblique injury at the end of July and later subsequent tightness in his lower back which might have come about because he was overcompensating for the oblique injury.
At any rate, Young was clearly a different pitcher in the second half of the season (1-5, 4.80 ERA) than he was in the first half (8-3, 2.00) when he was every bit as good as Jake Peavy and, really, every bit as good as anyone in baseball.
Despite the tough finish, which, again, I think was more about not being healthy than it was being ineffective, Young was still one of the toughest pitchers in baseball to reach base against. Consider the evidence.
Sure, Young ranked fifth in the league in ERA at 3.12 but that doesn’t tell you everything (or, really, much at all). Opponents hit a league-low .192 against him and he allowed a scant 10.25 baserunners per nine innings (second to Peavy). He was also second to Peavy in opponents on-base percentage (.281) and first in opponents slugging (.297) which, obviously, put him atop the league in opponents OPS (.578).
So how did Young managed just nine victories over 30 starts? Lack of offense was the main culprit, as he had 13 no-decisions. The Padres were 7-6 in those games but the telling statistic was this: In those 13 starts, Young allowed three runs or less over six innings nine times.
And, of course, that doesn’t count the game in Chicago where he was cruising (three scoreless and hitless innings) before the on-field fracas with Derrek Lee nor does it count the game in Colorado when he was hurt in July (two scoreless innings).
So who knows where Young might have ended up had he had better offense, better health and, of course, a little better luck. The fact is this guy is in his prime, he’s healthy, having been active in Pilates classes and other endeavors to strengthen his core this winter. And, most of all, I’ve never heard an opposing hitter tell me why he’s so tough to hit. And if they can’t figure him out …
I think he’s ready for a breakout year, a monster year. I’m saying 19-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 32 starts. That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it.