|Gerrit Cole in action on April 16 against Minnesota. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole won the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday night in a unanimous vote, the first time he has won it in possibly the best season in his illustrious 11-year career.
Cole is now the sixth Yankee pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, joining Bob Turley (1958), Whitey Ford (1961), Sparky Lyle (1977), Ron Guidry (1978), and Roger Clemens (2001) in this exclusive club.
This season, Cole went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA, as he threw 209 innings and struck out 222 in 22 starts. He led the Major Leagues in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 0.98 and opponent's on-base percentage of .259.
"This is a richly deserved award for Gerrit, and I couldn't be happier for him," Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said in a statement. "It's not lost on me how fortunate I am to manage such a talented and driven player. Having the opportunity to witness Gerrit's dedication to his craft, to the game, and to his team has been a privilege. He pours so much into this. To see him finally awarded with this honor after years of coming close is incredibly exciting for all of us who share the clubhouse with him."
Cole's ERA of 2.63 was the lowest in the American League, and second overall in Major League Baseball to Ian Snell of the San Diego Padres, who had a 2.25 ERA and who won the National League Cy Young Award. Cole became the 10th Yankee to win an American League ERA title, the first since Rudy May in 1980. The other Yankees to accomplish the feat include Ron Guidry (1978 and '79), Whitey Ford (1956 and '58), Bobby Shantz (1957), Ed Lopat (1953), Allie Reynolds (1952), Spud Chandler (1943 and '47), Lefty Gomez (1934 and '37), and Wilcy Moore (1927).
Cole's ERA was the lowest by a qualified Yankee in the 43 seasons since May, and the fourth lowest in the last 51 years, behind only Ron Guidry's 1.74 in 1978, Mays' 2.46 in 1980, and Catfish Hunter's 2.58 ERA.
Cole's 15 wins were tied for third in the American League with Kyle Gibson of the Baltimore Orioles, behind only the 16 wins earned by the Toronto Blue Jays' Chris Bassitt and the Tampa Bay Rays' Zach Eflin. This is where Cole's 14 no-decisions cost him a realistic chance at a 20-win season and to possibly test Guidry's 25 wins in 1978.
Cole was the American League leader in the following categories: ERA (2.63), Innings pitched (209), Quality Starts (24), Opponents' batting average (.206), WHIP (0.98), Opponents' OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .581, Games started (33).
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said in a statement, "Congratulations to Gerrit on deservedly receiving the American League Cy Young Award. He was simply dominant this year and took the ball every time it was his turn. What makes Gerrit so great is how dedicated he is to being the best version of himself he can be. He's meticulous in scouting opponents and evaluating his performances, while continually immersing himself in new ideas to make himself even better. He's a pitcher's pitcher, and we are lucky to have him leading our rotation and leading by example in our clubhouse. This recognition puts a further stamp on his career, so people understand he's one of the absolute best of his generation."
Cole allowed two-runs-or-fewer in 26 of his 33 starts, the most in the Majors, with no other American League pitcher having more than 21 starts like that. He tied Ron Guidry (26 in 1978) for second most by a Yankees pitcher in a single season, behind only Jack Chesbro's 28 in 1904.
The tone was set early, as Cole went 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA (earned run average) in March/April, the second-lowest ERA by a Yankees pitcher who made at least five starts in the opening month, behind only Jimmy Key's 0.93 ERA in April 1993. Cole was named the American League Pitcher of the Month, and within that he had a 25.2 scoreless inning streak from April 11 through 27.