Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer was named the 2017 National League Cy Young Award winner on Wednesday night, in an announcement made by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on MLB Network. Scherzer has now taken home the game’s top pitching honor in back-to-back seasons and for the third time in his career.
Scherzer is now one of just 10 pitchers in Major League history to take home the award three or more times, having claimed the 2013 American League Cy Young and the 2016 National League awards. He joins Roger Clemens (7), Randy Johnson (5), Steve Carlton (4), Greg Maddux (4), Sandy Koufax (3), Pedro Martinez (3), Jim Palmer (3), Tom Seaver (3) and Clayton Kershaw (3) on that list. Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry, Martinez, and Johnson, as well as Clemens and Roy Halladay join Scherzer as the only pitchers to win the award in both leagues.
Scherzer is also the only player in Nationals history (2005-present) to take home this honor and just the second in franchise history (Nationals/Expos), joining only Martinez (1997). He is the first pitcher to win his league’s Cy Young Award in back-to-back seasons since Clayton Kershaw took home the honors in 2013 and 2014.
“We are delighted to see Max earn this award for the second consecutive season,” said Washington Nationals Managing Principal Owner Theodore N. Lerner. “Watching Max pitch every fifth day in our uniform has been a source of great pride for our entire family - and, we’re sure, our collective fan base. We are awed by his penchant for historic performances and eagerly await his starts to see what feat he will conquer next, and what other peaks his career in Washington will reach. We were thrilled for him in 2016 and are equally as thrilled now to see his work continues to be recognized as the best in the league. The entire Lerner family extends our hearty congratulations to Max on this tremendous honor.”
Scherzer received 201 points in the balloting process, including 27 first-place votes, and the final tally slotted him 75 points ahead of the second-place finisher, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“What more can you say about Max?” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “To have taken home this award three times already in his career, to be among the shortest of lists when it comes to three-time winners, and an even shorter list of those who’ve won the award in both leagues, you realize just how special a pitcher we’re lucky enough to watch every fifth day. On behalf of the entire Washington Nationals organization, we are elated for Max and incredibly proud to call him one of our own. We look forward to what is to come as he leads our staff in 2018 and beyond. Moreover, we are honored to see that two of our starters finished in the top three in the voting for this award, appropriately honoring the incredible seasons put together by both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.”
Scherzer, an All-Star for the fifth consecutive season, finished 2017 with a 16-6 record and a career-low 2.51 ERA. He led National League pitchers in strikeouts (268), WHIP (0.90), opponent batting average (.178), opponent OPS (.566), and wins above replacement according to both FanGraphs.com (6.0) and Baseball-Reference.com (7.3), while ranking among the leaders in several other categories.
Scherzer was historically good in the season’s first half. While he worked to a tidy 10-5 record and a 2.10 ERA, in 18 starts prior to the All-Star break, Scherzer also posted a 0.78 WHIP. That miniscule number was the fourth-best in MLB history (since 1913) among starting pitchers.
While Scherzer’s first two seasons in the district were highlighted by historic feats, 2017 was more about elite consistency for the right-hander. For the ninth straight season Scherzer made at least 30 starts, and he crossed the 200-inning mark for the fifth consecutive year. Piling up 268 strikeouts, Scherzer surpassed the 250-strikeout mark for the fourth consecutive season, becoming the fourth pitcher in Major League history to compile four straight seasons with 250-or-more strikeouts, via the Elias Sports Bureau.
The right-hander struck out 10 or more batters 15 times in 2017, most in the National League and bringing him to 64 such games for his career - a category in which he remains the active Major League leader. His 15 10-plus strikeout games were the most in a season in Nationals history and second only to Martinez’s 18 in 1997 for the Expos. From May 26 to June 21, Scherzer struck out at least 10 batters in six straight games. His six straight 10-plus strikeout games was the longest streak in the National League this season, and in Nationals history (2005-pres.).