As you are well aware, David Price no longer plays for the Tampa Bay Rays. However, in his last season with the team, he was able to keep the team’s streak going with regards to receiving Cy Young award votes.
In 2014, Price made it five straight years in which at least one Rays player received a Cy Young vote. That puts them in select company–only the San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies can say the same. However, we can actually narrow down the field even further.
What is special about the Rays pitchers that have been acknowledged in the voting is how many of them there are. Yes, Price received votes in 2010, 2012, and 2014, but James Shields, Matt Moore, Rafael Soriano, and Fernando Rodney have also been present on ballots. That total of five different players receiving Cy Young votes is tied for the most in baseball since 2010 with only the Giants and the Tigers.
One thing we should further note, though, is not just the current Rays players, but also the ones they have traded. Matt Garza has never received any votes, but now Shields and Wade Davis have been recognized since leaving the Rays. Can we add in former players to make the Rays unique in all of baseball? Well, we can, but it gets pretty technical (and questionable).
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My first idea was to credit teams for both their current players and players who made their major league debut with them. That way, the Rays get Davis, but there’s a few problems: we have to give the Tigers credit for Fernando Rodney, meaning the Rays and Tigers are knotted at six players apiece, and the whole concept is just ridiculous. Why in the world should the Cleveland Indians get credit for Bartolo Colon‘s Cy Young votes in 2013 when he hasn’t pitched for them since 2002?
Another thought I had was to credit teams for their current players and players one team removed from playing for them. That wouldn’t change anything for the Rays since Davis is one team removed from them, but it would for the Tigers since Rodney played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim between them and the Rays. However, then the Tigers would get credit for Doug Fister‘s Cy Young votes this year to keep things tied at 6. More importantly, the Angels would be noted for Zack Greinke‘s votes in 2013 and 2014 and the same would hold true for the Milwaukee Brewers and CC Sabathia in 2010 and 2011. That doesn’t make any sense considering both pitchers were on their previous teams for just a few months.
Finally, in the quest for a system that makes some amount of sense–and gives the Rays a victory over the Tigers–I decided to count things as follows: teams get credit for their own pitchers’ Cy Young votes and any garnered by homegrown pitchers who are only one team removed from them. Then the Rays finally edge out the Tigers six pitchers to five and there is also another interesting statistic. The Rays are the only team in baseball with at least two pitchers who meet one of the two criteria in four out of the last five years. And if I’m going to do all of this “research,” I might as well present a table for all the teams.
Admittingly, it is meaningless that the Rays are the only team in baseball that meet two criteria that we literally handpicked for them. However, David Price’s Cy Young votes for them this season continue an impressive stretch for them nonetheless, and we can expect it to continue.
Price is gone (other than for the purposes of our random criteria), but 2015 could very well be the year that Alex Cobb receives his first Cy Young votes, and we can’t count out Chris Archer either. Cobb also reminds us that Drew Smyly or Jake Odorizzi could break out and get into contention. A year or two from now, it may not be nearly as much of a force to claim that the Rays are on a level of their own in regards to the Cy Young voting.