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Justin Verlander wins 2nd career AL Cy Young Award


MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing in second place on three separate occasions, Justin Verlander is a Cy Young winner again. The former Detroit Tigers ace took home his second AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, edging out Houston Astros teammate Gerrit Cole with 171 voting points to Cole’s 159. Verlander earned 17 of 30 first place votes to Cole’s 13, and was second on all other ballots.

Verlander had one of the best seasons of his carer in 2019, posting a 21-6 record and 2.58 ERA in a league-leading 223 innings. He struck out 300 batters for the first time in his career, and also eclipsed the 3,000 strikeout mark for his career. Verlander also led the league with a 0.80 WHIP—the second best mark all-time going back to the deadball era—and a 7.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 7.8 rWAR also led all pitchers, bringing his career total to 71.4 WAR.

Some will argue that Verlander should have finished second to Cole, who struck out more hitters and was worth more fWAR (FanGraphs’ version). Cole’s 2.50 ERA also edged out his teammate, and he had the stronger finish, with a 1.79 ERA in the second half. However, after Verlander finished second on three separate occasions — all seasons in which he was arguably more deserving than the actual winner — one might argue that the 36-year-old righthander was overdue for a few more first place votes.

Verlander and Cole earned all of the first and second place votes. Tampa Bay’s Charlie Morton finished third, with 18 third-place votes and 10 fourth-place tallies. Cleveland’s Shane Bieber finished fourth, and Texas Rangers righthander Lance Lynn rounded out the top five. Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito, and Mike Minor also received votes.

On the National League side, New York Mets righty Jacob deGrom took home his second consecutive Cy Young Award. He earned 29 of 30 first-place votes in a landslide victory over Los Angeles’ Hyun-jin Ryu, who finished a close second over former Tiger Max Scherzer. Cardinals righthander Jack Flaherty and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg were fourth and fifth on the NL side.

While Verlander’s late-career resurgence had likely already cemented his place in baseball lore, there is zero doubt now; he will be a Hall of Famer when his career is over. The only question is how much more hardware he will earn — he is still under contract in Houston for two more seasons.