Wins and Cy Youngs
As predicted, Cleveland’s Terry Francona won his third Manager of the Year Award on Tuesday and New York’s Buck Showalter won his fourth.
Terry Francona, Cleveland, 17 1st place, 112 points
Brandon Hyde, Baltimore, 9 1st place, 79 points
Scott Servais, Seattle, 1 1st place, 43 points
I was surprised Servais didn’t do better, but in retrospect it makes sense for exactly the reason I pointed out in the preview — the Mariners were a “surprise” but, in fact, won exactly the same number of games they won in 2021.
Buck Showalter, New York, 8 1st place, 77 points
Dave Roberts, Los Angeles, 8 1st place, 57 points
Brian Snitker, Atlanta, 7 1st place, 55 points
This was WAY closer than I expected. I really thought Showalter would be a runaway winner here, but he and Roberts got the same number of first-place votes with Snitker just one behind; Showalter won because he appeared on the most ballots, but he appeared on only 25 of them; five voters left him off entirely. This was also more than a three-man race. St. Louis’ Oliver Marmol got five first-place votes, and Philadelphia’s Rob Thomson got two. Pretty wild; nobody seemed to have a strong consensus. But Showalter gets the prize for the record-tying fourth time.
American League Cy Young
The finalists: Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox); Alek Manoah (Toronto); Justin Verlander (Houston).
The predicted winner: Verlander in a walk.
National League Cy Young
The finalists: Sandy Alcantara (Miami); Max Friend (Atlanta); Julio Urias (Los Angeles).
The predicted winner: Alcantara in a walk.
I don’t think either race will be close, so instead of breaking those down right now, I’m going to give you something we haven’t had at JoeBlogs for a little while — a big old historical rundown of how much pitcher wins have mattered in Cy Young Award voting through the years.
In 1956, Don Newcombe won baseball’s first Cy Young Award. He won it almost one year to the day after Cy Young himself, baseball’s winningest pitcher, died in his hometown of Newcomerstown, Ohio, at the ripe old age of 88.
In those early days, baseball had only one Cy Young winner rather than one in each league. The reason, best I can tell, was that not everybody was sold on the whole idea of giving pitchers their own award. The hitters were not sold on it because, you know, $&#^# pitchers. But also the pitchers were not sold on it because they worried it would eliminate their chances of winning the MVP award.
This wasn’t a problem in ’56 — Newcombe won the Cy Young Award AND the MVP award. And the reason, looking back, was pretty simple: Newcombe won 27 games that year. That was far and away the most in baseball; second on the list was Detroit’s Frank Lary with 21.
Most wins equaled best pitcher in 1956 … and for long after that.
Was Don Newcombe actually baseball’s best pitcher that year? There’s an argument to say he was (he did lead the league in WHIP and, I mean, 27 wins is 27 wins) but by today’s standards, no, I don’t think he’d be viewed as the best. He didn’t finish top seven in either Baseball-Reference WAR or FanGraphs WAR. A couple of Cleveland pitchers — Herb Score and Early Wynn — both had quantifiable better seasons by more advanced metrics.
But for years and years, pitcher wins WAS the advanced metric.
1950s Cy Young Winners
1956: Don Newcombe, Dodgers — led baseball with 27 wins.
1957: Warren Spahn, Braves — led baseball with 21 wins.
1958: Bob Turley, Yankees — Won 21 games, which was one behind Spahn and Pittsburgh’s Bob Friend. It was a super-close vote, but Turley’s Yankeeness triumphed.
1959: Early Wynn, White Sox — led baseball with 22 wins.
1950s in review Pitcher who led the league in wins won three of four Cy Youngs.
1960s Cy Young Winners
1960: Vern Law, Pittsburgh — won 20 games, which was one behind Spahn and St. Louis’ Ernie Broglio. I think Pittsburgh’s surprising run to the pennant was the difference here. In retrospect, Broglio probably should have won it … and maybe that would have made the infamous Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio trade look just a little bit more defensible.
1961: Whitey Ford, Yankees — led baseball with 25 wins
1962: Don Drysdale, Dodgers — led baseball with 25 wins
1963: Sandy Koufax, Dodgers — led baseball with 25 wins. Koufax was the first unanimous winner of the award as he also led the league in ERA (1.88) and strikeouts (306).
1964: Dean Chance, Angels — won 20 games, which did not come close to leading baseball. The Cubs Larry Jackson won 24 games that year. Chance won over the voters with his sparkling 1.65 ERA and 11 shutouts. Chance is the first pitcher to win the award over someone with several more victories.
1965: Sandy Koufax, Dodgers — led baseball with 26 wins, won the Cy unanimously again.
1966: Sandy Koufax, Dodgers — led baseball with 27 wins, won the Cy unanimously again. This was the last year of the single Cy Young award winner.
1967 AL: Jim Lonborg, Red Sox — led league with 22 wins.
1967 NL: Mike McCormick, Giants — led league with 22 wins.
1968 AL: Denny McLain, Tigers — led league with an absurd 31 wins.
1968 NL: Bob Gibson, Cardinals — won 22 games, which did NOT lead the league or even come close. Juan Marichal won 26 games that season. But Gibson won the award unanimously anyway, as his absurd 1.12 ERA demanded.
1969 AL: Denny McLain, Tigers and Mike Cuellar, Orioles — McLain led the league with 24 wins; in my original post I had forgotten that McLain and Cuellar actually tied for the Cy Young this year. I still think Cleveland’s Sam McDowell should have won the award, he had a 2.29 FIP and led the league in strikeouts and fewest homers, but he didn’t get even a single down-ballot vote.
1969 NL: Tom Seaver, Mets — led league with 25 wins.
1960s in review: Pitcher who led the league in wins won the Cy Young nine out of 13 times. And the four times that they didn’t are pretty easily explainable.
In total, the winningest pitcher has won 13 out of 17 Cy Youngs so far. It’s clear that the default position, up to this point, was simply to give the award to the pitcher who won the most games. That would change a little bit in the 1970s as voters began to get excited about
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