Twins' Liriano deserving ... but will lose

More on a popular subject from the mailbag:

    Rob, will someone in the BBWAA note that Francisco Liriano is having an excellent season, with better HR/9 and K/9 ratios than King Felix and practically the same BB/9? It´s strange, but he is not in the everyday discussion about AL CY having those figures. And sorry by my countryfellow Hernandez, but those four home runs allowed by Liriano in 172 innings are really impresive.

    -- Manuel Tortolero (Caracas, Venezuela)

It's an incredibly impressive figure. Granted the season's not over, but the two most stunning pitching figures this season are probably Liriano's home-run rate (which is the third-lowest for an ERA qualifier since 1981) and Cliff Lee's strikeout-to-walk ratio (which is the highest -- by just a nose -- in major league history).

And yes, for all the talk about Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia, Liriano's right there with them. Whichever version of WAR one cares to use. Unfortunately for Liriano's Cy Young chances, he does trail the other top candidates in one paramount category: Innings. Liriano's 39 innings behind Sabathia and 47 behind Hernandez.

Now, you might argue that Liriano's WAR is all the more impressive, considering he's compiled the figure(s) in so many fewer innings. But that's not the way voters usually see it (and I can't say that I blame them). It's awfully hard to vote for a starting pitcher who doesn't clear 200 innings (or will, but barely). Not when other pitchers, also performing brilliantly, have 240 innings.

No, I'm afraid we're just going to have to memorialize Liriano's and Lee's amazing seasons with our fond memories. The shiny plaque's going to wind up in someone else's trophy room.