Sunday, December 04, 2011

Brandon Webb and obscure Cy Young stretches

Let's turn the clock back to 2008.

2008 wasn't that long ago.
It was a mere 3 years ago. Most stars from the 2008 season remain with the same team now. Cliff Lee and Zack Grienke have found new homes, but the rest of the Cy Young winners and MVPs are still in place.

The players drafted in 2008 are just now creeping into the big leagues. So when I turn the clocks back to 2008, I'm not exactly saying "Let's go to the Dead Ball Era."

In 2008, Brandon Webb looked like he was putting together a potential Hall of Fame career.
At age 27, he won the 2006 Cy Young.
At age 28, he threw 42 straight shutout innings while pitching the Diamondbacks to the NL West Title and the NLCS, finishing second in the Cy Young race.
At age 29, he won 22 games and once again was the runner up for the 2008 Cy Young.

You can't have a better run that that. No doubt if he became a free agent after 2008, he would have been the highest paid pitcher in the game.

At age 30, he threw on opening day for 2009 but had to be removed after 4 innings.

He hasn't thrown a big league pitch since. If he career isn't over after basically missing the last 3 years than it is damn near over.

Going forward in time, Webb's Cy Young Award will be relatively obscure.
Some baseball fan in the future will be going through past Cy Young winners and think "Man, someone named Brandon Webb won the Cy Young!"

And chances are that fan would say "Jake Peavy won too? Who was that? And who was Eric Gagne."

The National League had some pretty obscure Cy Young winners between 2003 and 2007 (throw in Bartolo Colon's undeserved AL Cy Young in 2005 too.)

Every once in a while the Cy Young goes into an obscure stretch.
Look back at some of the winners in the 1980s.

Steve Stone won the AL in 1980.
Pete Vuvkovich won the AL award in 1982.
Lamarr Hoyt won the American League in 1983 while John Denny took home the National League prize.
Willie Hernandez took home the AL Cy Young (and MVP) in 1984.
Steve Bedrosian won the NL Cy Young in 1987 and Mark Davis got his in 1989.

Not exactly a line up of future Hall of Famers.
I am not belittling any of their seasons. Each of those pitchers had a terrific season and got a slice of immortality.

The same can be said of Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy et al.

The likes of Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander have all won Cy Young awards and could become reliable long term aces whose Cy Young trophies won't be surprising.

Then again, Brandon Webb looked like he was becoming that kind of ace as well.

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