Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers won the American League Cy Young Award in a unanimous vote after becoming the 12th pitcher in 50 seasons to lead his league in wins, earned run average and strikeouts.
Verlander received all 28 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, becoming the sixth player to win the AL Cy Young in a unanimous vote since 1967, when awards were first presented to the top pitchers in both leagues. The last unanimous winner in the AL was Johan Santana with the Minnesota Twins in 2006.
“I really think I’ve matured as a pitcher,” Verlander, who just finished his seventh Major League Baseball season, said in an interview with ESPN. “My first few years I got away with ‘stuff.’ Over time, just getting innings under my belt and learning batters, I felt like my maturation as a pitcher came along. Combine that with the same stuff I had back then and that’s kind of what happened for me this year.”
Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels was the runner-up after compiling an 18-8 record with a 2.41 ERA even though he had the second-worst run support among AL starting pitchers.
James Shields of the Tampa Bay Rays finished third and CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees was fourth. Shields went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and led the major leagues with 11 complete games, while Sabathia went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and 230 strikeouts for the Yankees.
Verlander, 28, won pitching’s so-called Triple Crown by leading the AL with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts in 2011. The right-hander was the first AL pitcher to accomplish the feat since Santana five years ago and the first Tigers pitcher to do it since Hal Newhouser in 1945.
Verlander’s 24 wins were the most in the league since 1990, when Bob Welch won 27 games for the Oakland Athletics, and he had victories in his final 12 starts. Verlander also threw a no- hitter on May 7 against Toronto and had a 14-1 record against AL Central opponents in helping the Tigers win a Major League Baseball division title.
Verlander is Detroit’s third Cy Young winner, joining Willie Hernandez, who won as a reliever in 1984, and Denny McClain, who received consecutive awards in 1968 and 1969.
McClain shared the award in 1969 and was a unanimous winner the previous season. Other unanimous Cy Young winners in the AL were Ron Guidry (1978), Roger Clemens (1986, 1998), Pedro Martinez (1999, 2000) and Santana (2004, 2006).
The National League Cy Young Award winner will be announced On Nov. 17. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the top contender for the award after leading the NL with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts.
There have been 10 unanimous Cy Young winners in the National League, including Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies last season.
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