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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Making the case for 'K-Rod'

Conventional wisdom says Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Cliff Lee, with an incredible record of 22 wins and just two losses, will win the American League Cy Young Award this year.

In reality, the honor should go to Francisco Rodriguez (left), the closer for the Los Angeles Angels.

Yes, I’m biased. I’ve been an Angels fan for 30 years. I celebrate their wins. I stew over the losses. I was a basket case when they lost the 1986 ALCS after holding a 3-games-to-1 lead over the Red Sox and being one strike away from victory in Game 5. I was in seventh heaven for days after they won the 2002 World Series.

But my argument for Frankie “K-Rod” Rodriguez is that of an objective observer, not a longtime fan.

What Cliff Lee has accomplished this year is amazing, to be sure, but it’s nothing new. There have been plenty of 20-game winners in baseball, a handful of 25-game winners and even one 30-game winner (Detroit’s Denny McClain, who went 31-6 in 1968).

What K-Rod has done this year is unprecedented: 58 saves (in 64 chances), topping the previous record, 57, held by Bobby Thigpen of the 1990 Chicago White Sox. And with 13 games still left to play, K-Rod almost certainly will reach the 60-save mark and conceivably could get to 65 (unless Angels Manager Mike Scioscia starts resting him for the playoffs).

K-Rod has my vote. Unfortunately, the voters who choose the American League’s Cy Young winner are not likely to agree.

After all, in Thigpen’s record-setting year, the A.L. pitching honor went to Oakland A’s starter Bob Welch, who won 27 games and lost only six.



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