AND THE NOMINEES ARE…
Derek Holland had a bit of a strange year. The young lefty was drafted in the 25th round in 2006, but emerged as a legitimate prospect with very good minor league numbers. In 2010, he played a fairly important relief role for the AL Champion Rangers, especially in the playoffs. The Rangers moved him to the rotation in 2011.
As a fairly decent example of his season, I present his starts from May 19 through August 5.
May 19 vs. KCR: 8 IP, 9 H, 1 R/ER, 5 K, 1 BB
May 24 vs. CHW: 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R/ER, 4 K, 1 BB
May 30 vs. TBR: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 7 K, 5 BB
June 4 vs. CLE: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 5 K, 1 BB
June 9 vs. MIN: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R/ER, 10 K, 1 BB
June 15 vs. NYY: 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R/ER, 0 K, 5 BB
June 20 vs. HOU: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R/ER, 4 K, 3 BB
June 26 vs. NYM: 6 IP, 12 H, 7 R/3 ER (!), 0 K, 0 BB (!)
July 2 vs. FLA: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R/ER, 1 K, 2 BB
July 7 vs. OAK: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, 7 K, 2 BB
July 14 vs. SEA: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R/ER, 8 K, 1 BB
July 20 vs. LAA: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R/ER, 4 K, 3 BB
July 25 vs. MIN: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R/0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB
July 30 vs. TOR: 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, 5 K, 1 BB
August 5 vs. CLE: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R/4 ER, 1 K, 1 BB
No, none of that makes any sense. Specifically, check the June 26-July 20 period. Terrible! More terrible! Two totally dominant complete game shutouts! More terrible! There’s nothing odd about Holland’s overall numbers this year, but how he got there earns him a nomination.
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Brian Matusz was a fourth overall pick for the Orioles in 2008, with very good minor league numbers. He landed in Baseball America‘s top 25 prospects twice, including the top five. His 2010 hadn’t been spectacular, but for a 23-year-old pitching his first full season in the AL East, it was about what you’d expect. I highly doubt anyone saw his 2011 coming.
Matusz missed April and May with a shoulder strain, but his first two starts of the year were solid. After that, it completely fell apart for him. 1.1 IP, 4 R; 5.1 IP, 4 R; 4.2 IP, 6 R; and a disastrous outing against St. Louis, 3.1 IP with 8 R. Carrying a very bloated 8.77 ERA with poor peripherals, Matusz was sent back down to the minors.
When he came back to the Orioles in mid-August, he was even worse. He made six starts to finish the year, and in every one of them, he gave up at least five runs. His first outing was the longest, at 6.2 innings, but his other outings lasted, at most, 5.1 innings. Often they were far shorter than that, like his 1.2-inning outing in Boston (where he gave up six runs), or his 1.1-inning game in New York (where he gave up five runs). He finished the year with a 10.69 ERA, the worst single-season ERA of any pitcher in history, minimum 40 innings. This was a lost year for Matusz, but perhaps as consolation he can look at the pitcher who had that record prior to his 2011 (and who still has the highest ERA in history with a minimum of 50 innings). He turned out okay.
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Guess who the AL FIP leader was in 2011. No, it wasn’t Verlander – or Sabathia, Weaver, Haren, Felix, Shields, Wilson, Price… it was Brandon McCarthy. Prior to 2011, McCarthy was mostly known as, well, injured. The As signed him before the season, and he had an excellent year. He wasn’t quite as publicized as both our AL and NL Cy Young winners, but McCarthy merits a mention here. Also, you should follow him on Twitter because he is a delight.
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AND THE WINNER IS…
You know Bartolo Colon. He’d been in the majors since 1997, and won a Cy Young in 2005. (Yes, Johan Santana was robbed blind, but Colon had a great year.) Since that year, though, Colon wasn’t able to stay healthy, and when he was on the field he generally wasn’t very good. He’d even sat out all of 2010.
Reports emerged about Colon pitching in winter ball between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and the Yankees signed him. More or less, it was viewed as a complete joke, a desperate attempt at getting some sort of pitching depth after the team missed out on Cliff Lee. Weirdly enough, though, Colon impressed in Spring Training. He started the year in the Yankees’ bullpen, but his excellent performance there and Phil Hughes’ injury pushed him into the rotation.
Colon ended the season with extremely solid numbers, and they probably would have been even better had he not clearly been affected by a pulled hamstring injury in mid-June. He was signed as a joke, but Colon ended up playing a fairly large* role in New York’s patchwork, yet effective, rotation. Personally, we got a lot of joy out of him here at YCPB, and that’s why he’s our AL Cy Young winner for 2011.
* get it, large, because he’s fat! We’re hilarious.