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ESPN Colleagues Buster Olney and Keith Law Disagree on the Value of Oakland Pitcher Trevor Cahill

Trevor Cahill won his 14th game of the season last night by shutting down the Indians. Cahill’s lost just twice in eight starts since the All-Star break, and he’s 2nd in the AL in ERA (behind Clay Buchholz) and 2nd in the AL in WHIP (behind Colin Cowherd’s boy, Cliff Lee). Hitters are batting a league-low .201 against him. The win led to ESPN’s Buster Olney gushing about Cahill’s Cy Young prospects last night on twitter. And then his stat-loving colleague, Keith Law, chimed in.

It’s too bad that in WAR (read all about it here), Cahill is far down the list, as Law notes. So because Cahill ranks so poorly in WAR, should he not be in the AL Cy Young mix? Is WAR the pitching stat that matters most?

For fun, we went to see where recent AL Cy Young winners were ranked in WAR.

Zach Greinke, 2009, 1st
Cliff Lee, 2008, 2nd
CC Sabathia, 2007, 1st
Johan Santana, 2006, 1st
Bartolo Colon, 2005, 5th
Johan Santana, 2004, 1st
Roy Halladay, 2003, 1st
Barry Zito, 2002, T-10th

It’ll be interesting to see how the AL Cy Young vote breaks down assuming Cahill keeps pitching well. Will his stats be deemed unimpressive because he’s in a pitcher’s park? Will they lose some luster because the AL West is the worst division in baseball?

You’ll hear stat guys say that “progress” (as it pertains to the statistical revolution) was made last year with Zack Greinke’s Cy Young victory. Would Cahill winning the Cy Young be a step backward?

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