CLEVELAND - C.C. Sabathia is still distraught over the role he played in his team`s ALCS collapse against the Red Sox. Fortunately for the Indians ace, he`ll have something to ease the pain over the winter.
On Tuesday, Sabathia, who went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA in his finest season in the majors, was named the American League`s Cy Young Award winner, beating out Boston playoff hero Josh Beckett. In doing so, Sabathia became just the second Cleveland pitcher to be honored in the 52-year existence of the award, joining Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, who was chosen as the league`s top pitcher in 1972.Â Â Â
"I was surprised," said Sabathia, who received 19 of the Baseball Writers` Association of America`s 28 possible first-place votes to the runner-up Beckett`s eight. "Beckett had a great year and an even better postseason. I didn`t really know what to expect, but I was pleased to find out that I won."
In a surprisingly lopsided race, Sabathia totaled 119 voting points to Beckett`s 86, with the Angels` John Lackey finishing third, receiving one first-place vote. Cleveland`s Fausto Carmona, who went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in his first full season in the majors, was fourth. It was the first time the Indians have ever had two pitchers finish in the top four in Cy Young voting.
In winning the award, Sabathia was finally able to best Beckett, who beat the 27-year-old left-hander twice in Boston`s ALCS conquest, including Game 5, with Cleveland at home and in front 3-1 in the series.
Sabathia was not himself in the postseason, winning just one of three starts, while posting a whopping 8.80 ERA.
"The last game against Boston (Game 5), I felt I pitched a pretty good game," Sabathia said. "But the first two, I was definitely trying to do too much, just trying to make the perfect pitch, instead of just pitching like I did all year and trusting my stuff and letting it go."
Had the Cy Young votes not been cast before the postseason, Beckett, the ALCS MVP who did not lose in the playoffs, most likely would have won the award. But Sabathia earned the honor with his regular season work.
Sabathia led the AL in innings pitched (241), was second in complete games (4), tied for second in victories and was fifth in ERA and strikeouts (209) to help the Indians to their first Central Division title since 2001.
Beckett (20-7, 3.27 ERA) was the majors` only 20-game winner, ranking sixth in ERA and seventh in strikeouts (194) for the AL East champion Red Sox, who won their second world championship in four years.
During a string of 10 starts from July 24 through Sept. 8, Sabathia did not allow more than two runs in any of the outings. With the Indians in the heart of a pennant race, he didn`t lose once over his final six starts, going 5-0, as Cleveland distanced itself from defending AL champion Detroit to wrap up the division title.
Giving his team a chance to win each time he took the mound was what Sabathia pointed to as his most impressive accomplishment of the season.
"The last two years I had pretty good years but I was on the (disabled list)," he said. "Just being able to go out there every fifth day and being in control of those games, that`s what I`m most proud of."
This can only help Sabathia at the bargaining table, where he and the Indians are currently negotiating a long-term contract. Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said he would like to have something done before the start of spring training. Sabathia can become a free agent at the end of next year and is expected to command between $15 million and $20 million per season.Â Â
"I don`t really think (winning the Cy Young) will have any affect either way," said Sabathia, who indicated that his agency group, Legacy Sports, was awaiting a proposal from the Indians.
If anything, winning the league`s top pitching award will give Sabathia an opportunity to take his mind off a disappointing finish to an otherwise banner season for him and the Indians, who tied Boston for the big league`s best record and beat the Yankees to win their first playoff series since 1998. He said he just recently watched the ALCS games on tape.
"It`s still tough," said Sabathia, who earned a $3-million bonus for winning the award. "But we had a good year. We`re a young team. We`ve got pretty much the same team coming back. We`ve been a team that`s been able to learn from our experiences. Hopefully we can learn from this and do what we need to do to get better next year."
The AL Cy Young was the second installment of baseball`s season-ending awards, with Boston`s Dustin Pedroia and Milwaukee`s Ryan Braun winning the Rookie of the Year Awards in their respective leagues. AL and NL Managers of the Year will be announced today, while the NL`s Cy Young Award winner will be revealed Thursday. Cleveland`s Eric Wedge is considered a strong candidate to win the AL`s Manager of the Year Award.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.