By Evan Brunell
In a season for the ages, Justin Verlander took home the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday, winning the award unanimously, just the fourth pitcher in the AL to do so.
It was a no-brainer decision for voters after Verlander racked up a 2.40 ERA, good enough to lead the American League. He did so in 251 innings, which led all of baseball. Verlander's accomplishments don't stop there -- he also led baseball in wins, racking up 24 against five losses, and also was tops in the game in strikeouts (250) and WHIP, sinking under 1.00 and finishing at .920.
The last pitcher to have a WHIP under 1.00 and strike out at least 250 batters was in 2004, when three pitchers accomplished the feat in Ben Sheets, Johan Santana and Randy Johnson. But if you add in at least 250 innings pitched, there have only been two pitchers since 1986 to accomplish that feat. Curt Schilling with the Diamondbacks in 2002 is the only other man left standing with Verlander.
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While Gooden didn't toss any no-hitters during his transcendent season, Scott did, blanking the Giants on Sept. 25. Verlander can match that feat, as he tossed his second career no-hitter on May 7, taking out the Blue Jays. Verlander walked just one and faced the minimum 27 batters. In his next start, he had a no-hitter until the sixth inning. In total, Verlander had 15 2/3 innings of consecutive no-hit ball. It wasn't the last time he would flirt with a no-hitter, taking one into the eighth inning on June 14 and July 31.
Verlander's victory gives the Tigers their first Cy Young since 1984, when closer Willie Hernandez took home the honor. Verlander's unanimous selection marks the 18th such time in baseball it has occurred. The first time it happened was with a fellow Tiger, with Denny McLain the obvious victor in 1968, two years after baseball decided to give the award to one pitcher in each league. The Cy Young had previously been awarded to one pitcher upon inception in 1956. The NL also made its first unanimous selection in 1968, handing the distinction to Bob Gibson.
With Verlander, there are six pitchers who can boast unanimous victories in the AL, with Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana all winning the award unanimously twice. McLain and Ron Guidry are the other AL hurlers with unanimous selections. Verlander will earn an additional $500,000 on top of his $12.75 million salary as a result of the victory.
The Angels' Jered Weaver (18-8, 2.41) finished second with 97 points, the only other pitcher to be named on each ballot. James Shields of the Rays had 66 points, finishing third. He is followed by CC Sabathia of the Yankees with 63 points, and Tigers closer Jose Valverde rounded out the top five with 28 points.
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