AL Cy Young:
2) Cliff Lee
3) Jon Lester
5) Jered Weaver
Debatable? Of course. All these awards are. With Bonds out of the league. And Pedro seemingly retired (and done as anything special), the awards have a lot left open, in terms of who is most deserving. Pujols is probably going to have a hard time separating himself from the rest of the pack, as he enters his 30's (Although, he IS Albert Pujols). And of course, Rodriguez's MVP's are probably behind him.
So it allows us to discuss it, with a little more understanding that, Player X might have viable, and realistic competition each year. Well, until the next Pedro or Bonds comes along :)
Since many of you are unfamiliar with my writing, I will say that I don't even look at win/loss records. I do look at ERA, but I do not rely on ERA. There is a difference. K's, BB, and home runs allowed are strongly considered, or FIP as you all know it. But even that is not to define great pitching, in itself.
Felix Hernandez is the most deserving candidate. Lee has an argument, definitely. But Felix allowed fewer runs, fewer home runs, and had more K's. All while throwing 37 more innings.
There are reasons to disagree too, of course: Hernandez didn't pitch in Texas for two months. Lee didn't walk anyone. Literally.
But at some point, over a single year, runs must be accounted for, right? Hernandez kept the ball on the ground (5th in the AL), and added in awesome peripherals around that. His defense was not spectacular in relation to Lee's, as they had the same D for a lot of the year. Add in that Texas also had solid defenders.
Now, to focus more on Lee, he offers us a truly great K/BB. 2nd best of all time. Truly incredible. If that were the only thing that mattered, Lee would have clearly been the favorite. But there is more to it than that.
Lester has some things going for him, and that is why he comes in 3rd. He is a lefty, pitching in the AL East, in a park that is tough for lefties to pitch in. Add in a 9.74 K/9, a 3.25 ERA, and a 3.13 FIP. He has a great case for not only making the top 5, but being behind only Lee and Hernandez, which is where I placed him, of course.
Liriano only threw 191 innings. But his fWAR was second to only Lee, and his only faults were the 3.62 ERA, along with the "lack" of innings pitched. There were simply better options, given the fact that Liriano didn't reach 200 innings. The term "innings eater" can be overrated. But it can just as easily be underrated.
The fifth spot is basically like drawing names out of a hat. There are multiple candidates that can replace Weaver, and I wouldn't disagree.
So there ya go. King Felix is the choice. Lee is acceptable.
But if one believes it is anyone else, then I just cannot stand behind it.