Jacob deGrom won his second straight National League Cy Young Award this evening, the Mets ace honored again for a season that while short on wins was dominant in every other capacity.
In receiving 29 of 30 first place votes and 202 total points, deGrom easily bested Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (one first-place vote, 88 points) and Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer (72 points). Scherzer’s third place finish means he’s been in the top five in Cy Young Award voting for the seventh consecutive year, though he came up short in his quest for a fourth trophy that would have elevated him into exceptionally rare historical company.
For a good chunk of the season, Scherzer appeared on track to join Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux as the only four-time Cy Young Award winners in major league history. But the back strains that limited him to one start during a six-week stretch in July and August ultimately derailed his season enough to knock him down below deGrom in balloting.
Prior to suffering his injury shortly before the All-Star break, Scherzer was 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA, a 0.982 WHIP and a league-leading 181 strikeouts. But in only eight starts after that, he went 2-2 with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.163 WHIP. In the end, the 35-year-old pitched only 172 1/3 innings over 27 starts to deGrom’s 204 innings over 32 starts and Ryu’s 182 2/3 innings over 29 starts.
Scherzer arguably wasn’t even the best member of the Nationals rotation this season, with Stephen Strasburg leading the league in wins (18) and innings (209) while barely finishing behind deGrom in strikeouts (255 to 251) and also making all 33 of his scheduled starts. Strasburg, though, finished in fifth place with 53 points, most likely based on his 3.32 ERA, which ranked 10th in the NL. Cardinals righty Jack Flaherty finished fourth with 69 points.
Patrick Corbin received one fifth-place vote and finished 11th in voting, giving the Nationals three pitchers on this year’s ballot.
All Cy Young ballots include five names and must be submitted before the start of the postseason. There were 30 voters for the NL award, two members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America from each city, and I was one of the two voters from Washington.
My ballot (and explanation) ...
1. Jacob deGrom: The most consistently dominant pitcher in the league throughout the entire season. Led the NL in strikeouts and WAR while finishing second in ERA and WHIP and third in innings pitched. What also separated him from the pack was his volume of dominant starts. He allowed two or fewer runs while pitching seven or more innings 17 times this season, three more times than anyone else in the NL.
2. Hyun-Jin Ryu: Led the league in ERA and fewest walks per nine innings. Ranked third in WHIP. Ranked second behind deGrom with 14 starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs over seven or more innings.
3. Jack Flaherty: Led the league in WHIP (0.968) while finishing fourth in ERA (2.75). Was the best pitcher in the NL during the second half of the season, posting a miniscule 0.91 ERA and 0.775 WHIP over his final 15 starts. Allowed zero or one run in 17 starts over the entire season, most in the league.
4. Stephen Strasburg: Led the league in wins (18) and innings (209), second in WAR and strikeouts. Made all 33 starts, 22 of those quality starts (third-most in the NL).
5. Max Scherzer: Was on track to potentially win at the All-Star break, but made only eight starts in the second half and posted a 4.81 ERA in those starts. His rate stats (ERA, WHIP, strikeouts per nine innings) all were Cy Young-worthy, but his counting stats suffered as a result of his injuries.