Surprising news: Zach Britton is not a finalist for Cy Young Award

So much for Zach Britton becoming the fifth Orioles pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award. He would have joined Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Mike Flanagan and Steve Stone. But the finalists for the award were announced tonight and Britton did not even make the final three.

First, let’s look at his resume.

Britton recorded 47 consecutive saves this season, going 47-for-47. According to STATS, LLC, Britton has the longest save streak in as many chances to start a season by a left-handed pitcher in major league history and ranks third all-time. Britton led the AL and tied for second in the majors in saves. His 0.54 ERA (just four earned runs allowed over 67 innings) led major league relievers and was the lowest in big league history among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.

britton-pitching-orange-front-sidebar.jpgAccording to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other pitchers in major league history have had an ERA below 1.00 in a season with at least 40 saves: Dennis Eckersley in 1990 (0.61, 48 saves) and Fernando Rodney in 2012 (0.60, 48 saves).

I guess we can assume that some of the voters from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America don’t believe a reliever should be able to win this award or believe a reliever should not finish that high up in the voting.

Some insist that a starter that pitches 200 or more innings has more value than a reliever throwing 70 innings. While there are merits to that, what about a starter’s innings when he is on the mound leading by four or five runs, or those innings against poor-hitting teams or lesser opponents? Britton faced bad teams, too, but his innings often came in high-leverage situations.

The finalists are Corey Kluber of Cleveland, Rick Porcello of Boston and Justin Verlander of Detroit. None had an ERA under 3.00. The last time the AL Cy Young winner had an ERA of 3.00 or higher was in 2007 when Cleveland’s CC Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA.

Britton gave up one earned run in his last 58 games. He had an ERA of 0.26 in home games. His groundball rate was 80 percent. Lefty batters hit .185 against him and right-handed batters hit .155. He yielded an average of just .085 when pitching with runners in scoring position and opposing batters were 0-for-6 against him when he pitched with the bases loaded.

But this year, that resume was not even good enough for a top three finish in the voting.

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