Posted on November 14, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Major League Baseball announced its 2018 Cy Young award winners Wednesday night, and in the end, there were no surprises. Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets won the award in the National League while Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays won it in the American League. Both are first-time winners of the award for best pitcher in each league, and both were more than deserving of the honor.
The National League was a three-horse race throughout the second half of the season with deGrom being challenged by Max Scherzer, a three-time winner, and Aaron Nola. However, deGrom turned the race into a runaway, garnering 29 of the 30 first-place votes.
“It’s awesome, truly an honor,” deGrom said after winning the award. “When you’re doing something, I don’t know if you realize it as much as people watching.”
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Toward the end of the season, deGrom was considered an interesting case study for the Cy Young award. Despite his brilliance on the mound, deGrom was just 10-9. The Mets rarely gave him any run support this season, which is why he won just 10 of his 32 starts.
However, wins didn’t matter much to the voters, who paid more attention to deGrom’s 1.70 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 217 innings. That lack of run support forced deGrom to be at his best every time out, and he answered the call every time. Ultimately, it was more than enough to give him the Cy Young.
Even the 300 strikeouts Scherzer compiled couldn’t sway the voters in his favor. It helped that deGrom was also able to rack up 269 punch-outs. However, the one first-place vote Scherzer received kept deGrom from being the first unanimous winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014. For what it’s worth, Scherzer earned 29 of the 30 second-place votes, leaving Nola as a distant third in the three-horse race.
In the American League, Snell earned 17 of the 30 first-place votes, helping him to edge out Justin Verlander, a previous winner who finished a close second after gaining the other 13 first-place votes. Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, and Gerrit Cole also received serious consideration for the award.
Despite plenty of competition, it’s hard to argue against Snell winning it. In 31 starts for the Rays, he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA. Even with the Rays experimenting with relief pitchers starting games as the “opener,” they kept Snell as a traditional starter. He continued to deliver for them and only got better as the season wore on. In the 11 starts that Snell made after the all-star break, he was a perfect 9-0 with a 1.17 ERA.
“This means a whole lot,” Snell said after learning he had won .”It’s something I wanted to achieve this year. I had this goal in mind. … I put in the work, and it means a whole lot to me.”
The only caveat for Snell is that he had a record-low number of innings pitched for a Cy Young winner at 180.2. But Snell more than made up for it by having the best ERA in the American League. He also gave up two or fewer runs in 27 of his 31 starts. For the voters, that was enough to separate Snell from Verlander and others in taking home the 2018 Cy Young.