Kansas City Royals: Appreciating Kevin Appier’s amazing 1993 season

Pitcher Kevin Appier of the Kansas City Royals - Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport
Pitcher Kevin Appier of the Kansas City Royals - Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport /
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Jack McDowell of the Chicago White Sox (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Jack McDowell of the Chicago White Sox (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Alright, time to compare some pitchers without names attached:

  • Pitcher A: 3.37 ERA, .314 opponents’ OBP (Opp. OBP) 14.8 strikeout percentage (K%), 256.2 innings pitched (IP), .298 opponents’ batting average on balls in play (BABIP), 3.61 FIP
  • Pitcher B: 3.24 ERA, .290 Opp. OBP, 29.5 K%, 255.1 IP, .276 BABIP, 3.05 FIP
  • Pitcher C: 2.56 ERA, .279 Opp. OBP, 19.5 K%, 238.1 IP, .260 BABIP, 2.90 FIP
  • Pitcher D: 3.00 ERA, .279 Opp. OBP, 18.3 K%, 236.1 IP, .276 BABIP, 3.51 FIP

How would you rank those four when it came time to voting for the Cy Young Award?

Using those numbers, I posited that very question on Twitter, asked my Facebook friends, and reached out to three others: David Scharff, the site expert at Kings of Kauffman; Leigh Oleszczak, KC Kingdom’s site expert; and one of the nation’s premiere gooseologists.

In total, my super scientific polling garnered 18 responses. (Hey, that’s close to 20!)  Some results:

  • CBDA was the most common order with 10 votes followed by CDBA with 6 votes
  • Pitcher A finished with 0 first-place votes, 1 second-place vote, 1 third-place vote, and 16 fourth-place votes
  • Pitcher B finished with 0 first-place votes, 10 second-place votes, 7 third-place votes, and 1 fourth-place vote
  • Pitcher C finished with 17 first-place votes, 0 second-and third-place votes, and 1 fourth-place vote
  • Pitcher D finished with 1 first-place vote, 7 second-place votes, 10 third-place votes, and 0 fourth-place votes.

These stats were all posted in the 1993 season. The actual American League Cy Young Award voting results ended in this order: A, B, C, D.

Pitcher A is Jack McDowell; Pitcher B is Hall of Famer Randy Johnson; Pitcher C is Appier; and Pitcher D is Jimmy Key.

Of course, I left out some things regarding this blind test. Most notably, the pitchers’ records. Wins and losses today are viewed as pretty useless by a lot of fans and most of those who cover the sport. But back in 1993, wins were key. And getting to 20 wins was considered the holy grail of pitching achievements.

That’s why Jack McDowell won the Cy Young Award in 1993. Sure, he had a fine season, but it paled in comparison to Johnson’s, Appier’s, and Key’s. However, Black Jack McDowell led the American League in wins, finishing 22-10 for the 94-68 Chicago White Sox. Of the four pitchers listed, he’s also the only one whose team reached the playoffs.

Johnson finished 19-8 for the 82-80 Mariners who finished 12 games back of Chicago in the old American League West. Appier finished 18-8 for the 84-78 Royals, who finished 10 games back of Chicago. And in the American League East, Key finished 18-6 for the 88-74 Yankees who finished seven games back of the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the end, McDowell led the league in wins while Johnson led the Majors in strikeouts with 308. (The next guy only had 227!)

Appier, meanwhile, led the Major Leagues in ERA+ and home runs per nine innings while leading American League in ERA and FIP and finishing second in both WHIP (1.106) and hits per nine innings.

He had an incredible season that deserved much more than finishing third in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He deserved to win it.

And also the MVP.