Why he won:
Zach Grienke – By finishing with 25 out of 28 first place votes and beating Seattle’s
Felix Hernandez by 54 points (134-80), Grienke clearly was the best pitcher in the AL. He had nearly one-fourth Kansas City’s 65 victories and was impressive in doing so by finishing with a major-league leading 2.16 ERA. He won in a runaway by striking out 242 and finishing 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his final eight starts and during consecutive August outings, Grienke struck out 15 and fired a one-hitter. Another factor was poor run support that probably cost Grienke a chance at 20 wins. In 17 starts he did not win, the Royals scored 37 times, an average of 2.2 and his eight losses that total was just 15 runs.
Why they didn't win
Felix Hernandez: In many other seasons, Hernandez's regular-season
performance of 19-5, 2.49 ERA with 217 strikeouts would have been good
enough. Hernandez made a strong case late in the year by going 7-0 with a 1.80 ERA over his final eight starts but fell 54 points shy of winning simply because of Grienke’s overall consistency. As Grienke began 8-1 and had a 0.40 ERA through his first six starts, Hernandez started with a pedestrian 4-3 record and 4.13 ERA in his first nine starts.
Justin Verlander: Verlander led the AL with 269 strikeouts and
240 innings but his ERA was 3.45. Only three times has the AL winner won
it with an ERA that high. Like Grienke and Hernandez, Verlander also
finished up decently, but he clearly wasn't dominating as evidenced by
his 28 earned runs over his final nine starts. From April 27 through June 10, Verlander
had a seven-game winning streak but finished 12-7 the rest of the way.
Why they didn't win:
CC Sabathia: Sabathia’s 19-8 record during his first year as a Yankee is certainly solid but when stacked up against Grienke, it does not justify winning the award. For one thing, Grienke did not have the luxury of having the best offense in the game. Sabathia’s 3.37 ERA was decent and his 11-2 second-half record was impressive but starting off 8-6 with a 3.86 ERA does not constitute a winner for an award that rewards pitching performances from April through October.
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