Cy Young Awards: Gerrit Cole wins AL; it's Blake Snell for NL

AP photo by Adam Hunger / Gerrit Cole pitches for the New York Yankees during a Sept. 5 home game against the Detroit Tigers.
AP photo by Adam Hunger / Gerrit Cole pitches for the New York Yankees during a Sept. 5 home game against the Detroit Tigers.

NEW YORK — Gerrit Cole was a unanimous winner of his first American League Cy Young Award, and Blake Snell took the National League honor Wednesday to become the seventh player to earn Major League Baseball's top pitching prize in both circuits.

After coming close several times before, Cole finally finished on top after an outstanding season for the New York Yankees. The ace right-hander received all 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

A model of consistent excellence, Cole went 15-4 with 222 strikeouts while leading the AL in ERA (2.63) and innings pitched (209). He made 33 starts and finished with a flourish, throwing a two-hit shutout against the host Toronto Blue Jays in his final outing this season for the Yankees, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Cole became the sixth Yankee to win a Cy Young Award and the first since Roger Clemens in 2001. Cole and Ron Guidry (1978) were the only unanimous choices.

"It makes me tremendously proud that I feel that I'm holding up my end of the bargain in terms of those great players and those great legacies," said the 33-year-old Cole, who signed a $324 million contract with New York in December 2019. "I'm contributing to the overall brand of what we do."

Snell was the NL winner after going 14-9 and leading the majors with a 2.25 ERA for the San Diego Padres, who missed the playoffs this year after reaching the NL Championship Series in 2022.

Now a free agent, the left-hander was picked first on 28 of 30 ballots. San Francisco Giants right-hander Logan Webb finished second, with third going to Zac Gallen of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who won the NL pennant before losing the World Series to the Texas Rangers.

Snell, the AL Cy Young recipient in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays, joined Clemens, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gaylord Perry and Max Scherzer as pitchers to win the award in both leagues.

"It feels amazing. I'm not really good at understanding how to accept awards and not look forward," Snell said. "I'm trying to enjoy this more than the first one I won. It's really special.

"In 2018, I was a kid. I thought I was going to win 40 of them. I thought I was invincible. I thought winning the Cy Young was just what I was going to do every year. That's just — you're young and that's how you think."

Cole played college baseball at UCLA before the Pittsburgh Pirates made him the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 MLB draft, and he has delivered on his promising potential.

He started for the AL in the MLB All-Star Game this year after earning his sixth selection to the Midsummer Classic. He twice came in second in Cy Young voting (2019 and 2021) and finished among the top five on three other occasions.

The clear frontrunner this time around, Cole said the leadup to this year's announcement indeed "felt different."

"I'm very proud of this season. I'm very proud of some of the other seasons where I've made a pretty strong run at this award as well," Cole said. "But it's hard to say it wasn't a little different. I mean, there was just a lot of momentum going into this."

Minnesota Twins right-hander Sonny Gray was the AL runner-up with 20 second-place votes, and Toronto's Kevin Gausman finished third.

Cole and Snell shined for disappointing teams. The Yankees and Padres both finished 82-80 despite having two of the three highest payrolls in the majors this year.

  photo  AP photo by Gregory Bull / Blake Snell pitches for the San Diego Padres during a Sept. 2 home game against the San Francisco Giants.
 
 

Shaking off a dreadful start to the season, Snell had 234 strikeouts in 180 innings over 32 outings.

He was 1-6 with a 5.40 ERA after losing to the Boston Red Sox on May 19, then dominated the rest of the way despite topping the majors with 99 walks this year. Harnessing his mid-90s heater and overpowering curve, Snell won eight of his last nine decisions and did not allow a run in five of his final six starts, including none in the last three.

He has never pitched a complete game in 191 starts in the majors.

"I understand myself way more. I don't get mad at things that I shouldn't get mad at anymore," said Snell, who has never pitched a complete game in 191 starts in the majors. "I don't try to be perfect. I just try to be the best version of me. And in doing so, I feel like this year came together pretty magically."

Snell gave up only 5.75 hits per nine innings, by far the best mark in the majors. All those stingy numbers while he was on the mound were more than enough to beat out Webb (11-13, 3.25 ERA) and Gallen (17-9, 3.47), who each logged at least 210 innings. Both got one first-place vote.

Snell, a Seattle native who turns 31 next month, became a free agent after the World Series. He rejected a $20,325,000 qualifying offer from the Padres on Tuesday to pursue a more lucrative contract.

"I'm excited to be a free agent," he said. "I don't really know what to expect."

The four previous San Diego pitchers to win the Cy Young were Randy Jones (1976), Perry (1978), reliever Mark Davis (1989) and Jake Peavy (2007).

Webb's finish marked the first time a starting pitcher with a losing record placed first or second in the balloting.

Seattle Mariners right-hander Luis Castillo gets a $250,000 bonus for coming in fifth in the AL voting. Gray earned a $150,000 bonus and Gausman $100,000.

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