Tim Lincecum, the University of Washington flash, has won his second straight Cy Young Award.
This was expected to be a tight three-way race among Lincecum, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, and indeed it was. Lincecum received 100 points, Carpenter 94 and Wainwright 90. Wainwright, in fact, had the most first-place votes with 12, followed by Lincecum with 11 and Carpenter with nine.
It’s another sign, I’d say, of the increasing sophistication of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) members who vote on these awards. Lincecum, with a 15-7 record, has the fewest victories of any starting pitcher (over a full season; throw out the strike/lockout years) to win the Cy Young. Previous low was Brandon Webb’s 16-8 with Arizona in 2006, matched this year by Zack Greinke in the American League. Runnerup Carpenter was 17-4, while Wainwright went 19-8. Carpenter had the lowest earned-run average (2.24) but because of injuries made just 28 starts and pitched 192 innings, compared to 32 and 225 for Lincecum, who had a 2.48 ERA. Wainwright’s ERA was at 2.63.
Here’s a piece by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman, explaining why he voted for Carpenter. I go way back with Henry, and I know what kind of guts it takes to write this piece in San Francisco. I happen to disagree — I picked Lincecum — but I still admire Hank for having the courage of his convictions. Lincecum led the National League in strikeouts (261), and was tied for complete games (4) and shutouts (2).
The list of repeat Cy Young winners is pretty lofty company for Lincecum, topped by Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson with four. The only other NL repeat winner was Sandy Koufax (1965-66). In the AL, there was Roger Clemens, twice (1986-87, 1997-98), Denny McLain (1968-69), Jim Palmer (1975-76) and Pedro Martinez (1999-2000). In defense of my childhood baseball hero, Sandy Koufax, I must point out that when he won back-to-back (and also in 1963), there was just one Cy Young winner, without regard to leagues.
This would be a completely inappropriate time to point out that the Mariners could have drafted him in 2006. We’re so over that.
(Photo by Associated Press)