Three quick, but incredibly relevant things in anticipation of Texas Rangers sinkerballer Scott Feldman's impending pursuit of his 15th victory against the Orioles on Friday evening:
● Perhaps this serves as an eminent example of hypocrisy on my part, particularly since I'm beginning to attach less and less significance to post-season hardware (and suggested as such last Tuesday morning), but here goes anyway: In The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers (which, not surprisingly, was co-authored by legendary sabermetrician Bill James and ESPN.com's Rob Neyer), a formula was constructed in an effort to predict the outcome of the Cy Young Award balloting in both leagues, as delineated here.
[Incidentally, Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus recently found during his research of a MVP-predicting model that the accuracy rate of the Cy Young-predicting formula resides somewhere around the 80 percent mark.]
Among all qualifying American League starting pitchers, Feldman's 104.7-point tally in this prediction model registered a rather remarkable seventh-place showing (albeit with the "victory bonus" component stripped out, which seems a little silly to include -- even on a prorated basis -- before the division championships are secured).
You can certainly argue that Feldman isn't the seventh-best starting pitcher currently plying his craft in the Junior Circuit, particularly since that impressive seventh-place showing is largely predicated on his heavily inflated win total, but the fact of the matter is that the people responsible for Cy Young Award selection still do care about wins and losses, and it is their antiquated criteria that has enabled Feldman to springboard onto the periphery of the Cy Young race.
● According to the pitch type linear weights data available at FanGraphs, Feldman's cutter has been worth nearly 2½ wins alone in 2009, settling in at a cozy 23.8 runs above average overall -- the best single-season mark of any cutter thrown by any major league pitcher since Baseball Info Solutions first began collecting cutter data some five years ago.
● Speaking of that utterly devastating cutter, ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote the following in response to a reader query regarding the potentially fluky nature of Feldman's incredible 2009 campaign: "Not a fluke. Talked to a scout who saw [Feldman's] start against Tampa two weeks ago or so who said he had three above-average pitches and the cutter (which I believe is new -- he didn't have it when I saw him in early '08) was filthy."
Chew on that.