The Cy Young award — named after the Hall of Fame pitcher who died in 1955 — was first handed out in 1956 to Don Newcombe, with the goal of recognizing the “most valuable pitcher” from each season. The first eleven years of the award saw one pitcher per year receiving the honor, but in 1967 the Cy Young began being handed out to a pitcher from each league who was voted on as the best from the season.
Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.
Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Cy Young award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player seven points, a second place vote gets four points, a third place vote receives three points, a fourth place vote is worth two points, with a fifth place vote earning a single point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.
The 2016 Major League Baseball Cy Young award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG
Original Pick: Justin Verlander
Finalists: Corey Kluber, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander
Winner: Rick Porcello
Thoughts On Rick Porcello Winning
The stats of the top pitchers in the American League from 2016 were so close that it was a challenge to choose the player who was the very best. Their ERA’s were within mere decimals of each other, with many other statistics also standing very close to even.
But Rick Porcello and his 22 wins wound up proving to be the most worthy of the Cy Young, as far as the voters were concerned, barely beating out Justin Verlander and his 3.04 ERA, who finished just five votes back of Porcello — the second closest margin since 1970. This also marked the second time in voting history that the player not receiving the most first place votes won the award.
The close race between the two caused a bit of controversy around the baseball world, as despite the closeness of the final tally, Verlander winning 6 more first place votes wasn’t able to do it for him in the end (due in great part to him not being named at all on two ballots).
Corey Kluber finished in third with his 3.14 ERA, with 3 first place votes and 98 overall points, with the favorite by many to win the entire award, Zach Britton, getting the other 5 first place votes and coming in fourth.
Porcello went 22-4 on the season, recording a 3.15 ERA along that time. For that reason alone, he is definitely deserving. However, there are still a lot of people who don’t feel that way. A lot of people felt that Verlander was far more dominant that Porcello throughout the year, and I find myself agreeing with them.
But it is what it is, and the focus here isn’t on Verlander’s extremely close loss (the second such of his career, with a 149-153 loss coming to David Price in 2013) but instead Rick Porcello’s deserving win.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG
Original Pick: Max Scherzer
Finalists: Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer
Winner: Max Scherzer
Thoughts On Max Scherzer Winning
As hard as picking the winner was from the candidates in the American League, the National League was just as difficult. With Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer all having very different cases for winning, choosing the one who stood above the rest wasn’t an easy task.
Hendricks led all of baseball in ERA with a mere 2.13; Lester posted a great ERA of his own, at 2.44, to go along with 19 wins; and Scherzer struck out a stellar 284 batters, despite his 2.96 ERA being the highest of the group.
But in the end, the voters went with Max Scherzer, and it wasn’t even close. Scherzer tallied up a total of 192 points, earning 25 first place votes, with Lester finishing runner up with just one first place vote and 102 points, leaving Hendricks coming in third with 2 first place votes and 85 points collectively. (The other two first place votes surprisingly went to Clayton Kershaw, who finished fifth in the voting).
The deciding factor for Scherzer’s Cy Young win likely came down to his utter dominance. Although he had the highest ERA of the finalists, Scherzer posted an 11.2 K/9 rate this season over the course of 220.1 innings, including a 20-strikeout performance against his former team, the Tigers, this year.
This marks Max Scherzer’s second career Cy Young award, joining him with Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry as the only other pitchers to win a Cy Young in both leagues.
But if 2016 was any indication, Scherzer may not be done setting records.