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Felix Hernandez Named August's Greatest AL Pitcher

Felix Hernandez talks about fish
Felix Hernandez talks about fish

Ever since he returned from that little back injury that caused him to miss a start, Felix Hernandez has been on some kind of roll, like a large boulder, that is rolling, down a slope. Felix hasn't been unhittable, but he's been more unhittable than just about everyone else, and of course there was that one afternoon where he might as well have been literally unhittable. This has all put Felix on course to win a big award, and while he's far from being an absolute lock, these days he's starting to look like the favorite.

We'll have to wait to see if Felix wins the Cy Young, and there's still a whole other month of baseball left to go, but Felix has now won an award, and possibly and hopefully the first of multiple awards. Felix was voted the American League Pitcher of the Month for August, a month during which Felix started five times, with three complete games and a 1.08 ERA. The AL's next-best August ERA for a starter belonged to a guy who's since been suspended. Then there's whoever Miguel Gonzalez is at 1.91, and then there are dudes over 2.00. Max Scherzer received some consideration from the voting committee, and he actually posted a far better August xFIP than Felix did, but he also threw about ten fewer innings and if the voting were done based on xFIP then xFIP would probably be somewhere in the name of the award. For a month, Felix had a .167 BABIP and Scherzer had a .384 BABIP, and it makes sense that Felix should be rewarded and Scherzer should not be.

You'll recall that, a month ago, you were reading about Jason Vargas being named the American League Pitcher of the Month for July. Indeed, Mariners pitchers have now won this award back-to-back, the first going to Vargas, and the second going to Felix. Felix Hernandez has won basically the same award that Jason Vargas just won, so that's how you know it's a meaningful award. That sentence was dripping with sarcasm but if you flip it around then it seems a lot more sincere. Jason Vargas won basically the same award that Felix Hernandez just won, and, wow! Jason Vargas is like Felix Hernandez!

The first time and last time the Mariners won consecutive Pitcher of the Month awards was 2009, when they went to Jarrod Washburn and Felix Hernandez. Repeat all the same stuff from above right here. I'm getting the feeling like month-long sample sizes might not be big enough for the best pitchers to always rise to the top by the end. I guess that's what the Cy Young is for. The Cy Young is for the best pitchers in the league. The Pitcher of the Month exists to give considerably worse pitchers something more realistic to strive for. "I don't have to fluke it 32 times! I can just fluke it five times! That is 28 less times!" I'm assuming that considerably worse pitchers are also considerably worse at basic subtraction.

People are going to remember Felix's August, because it was in August that Felix threw his perfect game and that memory's never going away. We're all taking it to our graves, and then we're taking it to the dirt, and then we're taking it to the trees, and then we're taking it to the apples, and then we're taking it to the insides of other people. You know what opponents batted against Felix in August? .136, with a .171 OBP and a .194 slugging percentage. But he might've been even better in July, depending on how you distribute credit for different statistics. In August, Felix threw a perfect game at home against the Rays. In July, Felix threw a complete-game shutout at home against the Rangers, with zero walks and 12 strikeouts. Felix was incredible in July. Felix has been incredible for some time.

And now he'll get a little personalized trophy to memorialize his August. I wonder how much available display room Felix had in his house a month ago. I wonder how little of it is left. I wonder if there's space for another Cy Young. I wonder what you do with a Cy Young?