Major League Baseball handed out more hardware this week in the form of the Cy Young Awards to honor the best pitchers in both the American and National leagues for 2005. The following ESPN excerpts give the details:
Angels Colon Wins AL Cy Young Award
NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon always had the blazing fastball, the snappy sinker, the natural look of a No. 1 starter.
Still, something was missing: consistency. So he learned to pull back a bit, focus on throwing strikes and getting grounders. Now, he's the dominant ace everyone envisioned, and he has an American League Cy Young Award to prove it.
Colon won a surprisingly one-sided vote Tuesday, beating out reliever Mariano Rivera and becoming the first Angels pitcher in 41 years to take home the honor. "If I can get an out with one or two pitches and use my sinker or my cutter, I'm better off," Colon said through a translator. "I stopped being a village boy, thinking that I can throw any stone, any rock through a wall, and started thinking about being a guy that could last longer, to take some off my fastball and not to depend only on throwing hard."
Colon, who led the league with 21 wins, was listed first on 17 ballots and second on the other 11 for 118 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He was the only pitcher named on every ballot, easily topping Rivera, who received 68 points.
The New York Yankees' closer got eight first-place votes for the highest finish of his career, while 2004 winner Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins received three and came in third.
Colon did have a fine season, but he also had an average of six runs of offensive support from his teammates in 2005, one of the highest figures in the American League. By contrast, Santana of the Twins had just over four runs of offensive support from his teammates, which helps to account for the fact that he won five fewer games despite having an earned run average that was six-tenths of a run lower than Colon's. Add in Santana's 238 league leading strikeouts (81 more than Colon) and I'd have likely voted for Santana.
Historical Note: The last Angels pitcher to win the Cy Young Award was Dean Chance in 1964--when baseball only gave one award out--NOT one for both leagues. His 20-9 record included a league leading 1.65 ERA, 15 complete games and 11 shutouts. 11 shutouts! That is tied for the second highest total ever by an American League pitcher, and is the third highest total ever. Check this list out, courtesy of baseball-reference.com:
All-Time Single Season Leaders in Shutouts
T1. George Bradley - 16, 1876 (R)
T1. Pete Alexander - 16, 1916 (R)
T2. Jack Coombs - 13, 1910 (R)
T2. Bob Gibson - 13, 1968 (R)
T3. Pud Galvin - 12, 1884 (R)
T3. Ed Morris - 12, 1886 (L)
T3. Pete Alexander - 12, 1915 (R)
T4. Tommy Bond - 11, 1879 (R)
T4. Charley Radbourn - 11, 1884 (R)
T4. Dave Foutz - 11, 1886 (R)
T4. Christy Mathewson - 11, 1908 (R)
T4. Ed Walsh - 11, 1908 (R)
T4. Walter Johnson - 11, 1913 (R)
T4. Sandy Koufax - 11, 1963 (L)
T4. Dean Chance - 11, 1964 (R)
Note the fact that only two lefties appear on the list. Dean Chance was a fairly dominant pitcher for the expansion Angels, then was traded to the Twins and won another 20 games in 1967 as the Twins finished one game behind the Red Sox in the pennant race that season. 1968 was his last healthy season as he won another 16 games for the Twins. He then bounced to the Indians, Mets and Tigers before retiring from the game at age 30 with 128 career wins and 115 losses, mostly for teams that were mediocre at best. His 2.92 career ERA was slightly more than half a run lower than the league ERA (3.46). Chance is largely a forgotten player, and while I don't agree with Colon's selection for the Cy Young Award, at least it gives us the opportunity to remember Chance and his accomplishments.
Cardinals Carpenter Wins NL Cy Young Award
NEW YORK -- Chris Carpenter was ready to call it quits.
Toiling in Double-A two years ago, trying to work his way back from shoulder surgery, he pitched a game in Tennessee just before the All-Star break and couldn't even play catch afterward because his right arm hurt so much.
Carpenter knew something was wrong again, even though the doctors didn't think so. He hadn't seen his infant son in about a month, and all he wanted to do was go home to New Hampshire with his wife, Alyson.
"I'll never forget the night we sat here until about 3 o'clock in the morning crying and talking about my career," Carpenter said. "I was ready to be done. And she didn't think I was, that I would regret it if I didn't take that one more step and try to come back again. And the next thing you know, I got my second surgery and here we are today. And I know that if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be here."
All that hard work and patience was rewarded when Carpenter won the NL Cy Young Award on Thursday.
After going 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA for the St. Louis Cardinals, he received 19 of 32 first-place votes and finished with 132 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
He beat out Florida lefty Dontrelle Willis, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher to claim the honor since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in 1970.
"I can't believe I won," Carpenter said. "My son did a little dance for me and my wife gave me a big hug. We were really excited about it."
Willis, who was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA, was listed first on 11 ballots, second on 18 and third on three for 112 points. Seven-time winner Roger Clemens got the other two first-place votes and came in a distant third at age 43. The Rocket led the majors with a 1.87 ERA, but a lack of run support from his NL champion Houston Astros limited Clemens to a 13-8 record, which surely cost him votes.
Unlike the voting in the American League, the National League choice between Carpenter and Willis was much closer because the two pitchers were neck and neck in the big categories (wins, ERA, complete games, shutouts, innings), so there isn't much about which to quibble with this choice. Carpenter's biggest edge is in strikeouts (213, second in the NL) to Willis' 170, but Willis is a much better hitter. He hit .261 with one homer, four doubles, 11 RBI and 14 runs scored. Carpenter, a former Blue Jay who spent the early part of his career not having to bat, is, like most pitchers, a lousy hitter. He hit .065 -- five hits, including two doubles in 77 at-bats with two RBI and seven runs scored.
Next week the MVP awards for both leagues should be announced.