Johnson almost lost in Cy Young shuffle

The National League Cy Young balloting has seemed like a foregone conclusion for some time. Which, in the event, it was.

In the SweetSpot Network balloting, Roy Halladay was the unanimous choice: 19 ballots, 19 first-place votes for Halladay. More to the point, the BBWAA loved him, too: 32 ballots, 32 first-place votes.

There's only one real difference between "our" results (I voted, too) and the BBWAA's (in which I could also have voted, but wasn't invited) ... and it's exactly the difference I expected: Josh Johnson.

Johnson posted a 2.30 ERA, the lowest in the league. Yes, even lower than Halladay's. Johnson allowed only seven home runs, for the lowest ratio among ERA qualifiers. According to Wins Above Replacement, he was one of three or four best pitchers in the National League. Probably not as good as Halladay, but in line with Adam Wainwright and Ubaldo Jimenez.

The BBWAA didn't like him quite that much. Wainwright picked up 28 second-place votes, Jimenez the other four. Johnson -- who finished fifth behind those two guys, plus Tim Hudson -- picked up five third-place votes, five fourth-place votes, and nine fifth-place votes.

The SweetSpot Network liked him quite a lot, ranking him just ahead of Wainwright for second place. And Hudson drew very little support, ranking eighth.

Hudson did win 17 games, and he did pitch 45 more innings than Johnson, who presumably would have fared better in the BBWAA balloting if his season hadn't ended in early September. Wasn't it Woody Allen who said that half of life is just showing up? Johnson didn't show up in the last month of the season. Hudson did show up, although it's fair to point out that Hudson didn't pitch well during that last month when his team was fighting for a playoff spot.

It's not a big thing. Nobody really cares who finishes third, nor should they. And I don't mean to diminish the importance of 45 innings. But by most measures that don't include luck, Johnson was probably the more effective and valuable pitcher than Hudson this year.

I apologize if you showed up expecting a good rhubarb. For that, you might have to wait until Thursday when the American League results are announced.