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How Many Cy Young Awards Would Cy Young Have Won?

Denton True Young: One cool dude. Best pitcher ever. Most wins ever. Most LOSSES ever. Most...pretty much everything, ever.

Was he really THAT good at any given point, or was he merely very good for a very long time?

To find out, I decided to apply a simple metric to history and see how Cy would have fared in the Cy Young voting had the award existed in his time (it wasn't awarded until 1956).

Using James & Neyer's Cy Predictor formula, I took every single pitching season from 1871-1955, applied the formula, and recorded each league-season's leader in "Cy Young Points."

The formula is calculated thusly: CYP = ((5*IP/9)-ER) + (SO/12) + (SV*2.5) + Shutouts + ((W*6)-(L*2)) + VB, where a 12-point Victory Bonus is awarded for "leading your team to the division championship." I went back and gave all pennant winners the 12 victory points, since this predates divisions. Also please note that this is not a measure of who SHOULD have won, rather it measures who was most LIKELY to have won, based on the historical voting proclivities of the actual voters.

So, who won the most hypothetical Cy Young awards? Cy Young? Old Hoss Radbourn? Bobo Newsom? How many did Cy win? See if you can figure out for yourself with this Sporcle Quiz I created!

Young fared pretty well - he would have won five Cy Young awards, more than any real-life Cy Winners besides Roger Clemens, who won seven. But Cy wouldn't really have distinguished himself with just five - Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove each might have won six (including six in a row for Grove from 1928-33), and Bob Feller, Pete Alexander and Christy Mathewson would have tied Cy with five apiece. Warren Spahn could have added three hypothetical Cy's to the one he actually won. Even Babe Ruth might have had one on his mantle, thanks to a phenomenal 1916 season with the Red Sox.

OK, so Cy Young probably actually was pretty good, in both peak value and longevity. But maybe we should have named the award after Walter Johnson or Lefty Grove.

~ Deej Simons

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