There's been a lot of talk lately about Mariano Rivera getting the AL Cy Young this year; for example here, here, and on BBTN. It seems ridiculous on its face. For one thing, anything Harold Reynolds supports is bound to be stupid. Moreover, Mo's on pace to pitch just 72 innings, which is really really low. Plus this is not a bad year for AL starters; while there are no massive standouts, Roy Halladay and Mark Buerhle are pretty dominant (though Halladay's been hurt), and Barry Zito has been unstoppable as of late (8 wins and an ERA of 2.33 in his last 8 starts). Finally there's the obvious problem that he's a relief pitcher. Eric Gagne got the Cy Young in 2003, but there were two special circumstances that year: (1) it was a bad year for NL pitching, with only Mark Prior and Jason Schmidt even having a chance; and (2) Gagne had 55 saves (10 more than his closest competitor, John Smoltz) and zero blown saves. It was that streak more than anything that got him the Cy. Mo's on pace for 44 saves, but Wickman, Hermanson, Nathan, and Guardado should also get about that many. Plus of course he's blown two saves.
But on the other hand, those two saves were in his first two appearances of the season, against Boston. (I still get pissy when I think about him getting booed.) Since then he's converted 30 straight. His ERA's incredible (0.92), but becomes much more impressive (0.58) if you take out just those first two games. His WHIP is 0.73 on the season. So despite those two early-April blown saves (one of which he got the win in), it's fair to say he's having one of the best seasons a closer has ever had.
But then again, let's say he wasn't superhuman this season, merely quite good, with an ERA of 3. So he gives up three times as many runs. How many games does that cost the Yankees? Given that in 15 of his saves (half of his total) the Yanks won by three or more runs, the answer is: not many. Two or three, maybe 4. Now, make Buerhle or Halladay and Zito merely good, and how many games does that cost their teams? Somewhere between 5 and 10, probably.
But, then again, this is Mariano Rivera we're talking about. He's a HOF'er, and this is the best season of his career. You know how they sometimes give the Oscar to an actor or actress or director not for a particular movie, but instead as a sort of "lifetime achievement award"? It seems reasonable to do that in baseball as well (though I'm not sure if it's ever happened before).
So I'm conflicted. Plenty of good arguments for, and against, Mo getting the Cy Young this year. Thoughts?