With consecutive National League Cy Young Awards, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer is one of 10 to have at least three Cy Young Awards. He won the 2013 AL Cy Young with Detroit, so he’s one of six pitchers to have won the award three times.
So how close is Scherzer to punching his ticket to Cooperstown?
The answer: close, very close.
A pitcher generally has to dominate his era for six to 10 years. No question, Scherzer and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who finished second in the Cy voting and was shooting for his fourth NL Cy, are the two best since 2010.
Scherzer’s 132 victories and 1,909 strikeouts are the most by a pitcher since 2010. He’s also pitched at least 200 innings five times, leading the league once, with two strikeout titles.
Scherzer started with Arizona and his first dominating season was 2012 with Detroit, the year he went 16-7 with 3.74 ERA.
Since then, he’s been one of the best.
Players can have strong spurts and not make the Hall of Fame.
The Yankees’ Don Mattingly played 12 seasons. In his first six, he looked as if he was on his way to Cooperstown. The final six were not so good.
In the early part of his career, Mattingly won an RBI title, a batting title and an American League MVP as well as a second-place and fifth-place finish in the MVP voting.
But injuries derailed Mattingly’s chances at the Hall of Fame. In his final six years, he didn’t come close to the All-Star status he had in the first half of his career.
Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax is a good example of a short and dominating career that earned a place in Cooperstown.
The lefty Koufax came of age in 1961 with Los Angeles, going 18-13 with a 3.52 ERA. But he pitched through 1966, retiring with arm problems at 30.
He won three NL Cy Youngs and four strikeout titles. He had three seasons of at least 300 innings pitched with seasons of 25, 26 and 27 wins.
Koufax also won an NL MVP and finished second in another vote.
He also was in four World Series with the Dodgers, winning three and being MVP in two - in 1963 and 1965, the year1 he beat the Twins with a nine-inning 2-0 shutout in Game 7 on two days of rest.
Scherzer’s dominance includes two no-hitters and a 20-strikeout game.
“The one thing about Max Scherzer is that he doesn’t stop trying to get better,’’ former Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux said during the season. “He just keeps working, knowing that he has to improve to stay on top.’‘
Scherzer is 33. A few more dominating seasons - and maybe a World Series ring or two - and he’ll be on his way to becoming the first Nationals player to make the Hall of Fame.