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The last time the NL Cy Young was this close

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This year’s NL Cy Young vote was one of the closest in history, but 1987’s vote was the closest ever. Let’s take a quick retrospective.

Rank Tm Vote Pts 1st Place Share W L ERA G GS SV IP
1 Steve Bedrosian PHI 57.0 9.0 48% 5 3 2.83 65 0 40 89.0
2 Rick Sutcliffe CHC 55.0 4.0 46% 18 10 3.68 34 34 0 237.1
3 Rick Reuschel TOT 54.0 8.0 45% 13 9 3.09 34 33 0 227.0
4 Orel Hershiser LAD 14.0 2.0 12% 16 16 3.06 37 35 1 264.2
5 Dwight Gooden NYM 12.0 1.0 10% 15 7 3.21 25 25 0 179.2
5 Nolan Ryan HOU 12.0 0.0 10% 8 16 2.76 34 34 0 211.2
7 Mike Scott HOU 9.0 0.0 8% 16 13 3.23 36 36 0 247.2
8 Bob Welch LAD 3.0 0.0 2% 15 9 3.22 35 35 0 251.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/23/2009.

 

Steve Bedrosian? Whiff!

Let's consult Rally's Historical WAR Database to find the "shoulda been" winner.

WAR
Steve Bedrosian 2.6
Rick Sutcliffe 5.6
Rick Reuschel 3.8
Orel Hershiser 6.7
Nolan Ryan 5.5
Doc Gooden 3.8
Mike Scott 5.7
Bob Welch  6.6

It turns out Orel Hershiser was the guy, but he had 16 losses, which is of course is anathema. His teammate Bob Welch was equally as good, and yet received only one lowsy 3rd place vote. He checked in with just 15 wins. Good performance but wrong era, guys.

Nolan Ryan was as good as Rick Sutcliffe, but despite 270 strikeouts, Ryan obviously didn't know how to win. Pssshh.

For all the holy outrage against certain newbies who are now voting BBWAA, just take a gander at 1987's results. People have done a lot crazier things with their ballots.