The Baseball Writers Association of America announced today that Pete Vuckovich of the Milwaukee Brewers is their choice for the American League Cy Young Award, given to the league’s best pitcher.
Though Vuke had been seen as one of the favorites to win the award, the announcement came as something of a surprise since Toronto’s Dave Stieb was named the American League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. In fact, even California’s Geoff Zahn beat out Vuckovich to make the Sporting News team. That said, pitching awards for the American League have been across the board this year. While Vuckovich didn’t make the TSN AL team, he was named the best right-handed pitcher in all of baseball by the Associated Press and was also named to the UPI AL team.
Forgive the voters for their lack of commitment, though, since this year marked one of the weakest AL Cy Young fields. In fact, it may have been the weakest.
Vuke finished the year 18-6 with a 3.34 ERA. Certainly impressive stats, but it was the first time a non-starting pitcher with fewer than 20 wins won the award since it was first handed out in 1958, and his ERA was also the highest of any Cy Young winner. Vuke also stumbled down the stretch, failing to win after a classic September 20 in 11 innings at Fenway Park (though his postseason failures were not considered).
Put all of that aside. Someone had to win, and the voters considered Vuke the most worthy candidate.
“I really feel great about it,” Vuke said, “but I can’t take full credit for it. I just happen to be lucky enough to be out there on the days the team’s playing well enough for me to be a winner. It feels great, it really does, but I’d like to break it up into 25 pieces. Thirty pieces.”
Vuke is humble, but he’s right. When you win as many games as he’s won with only six losses and a somewhat modest ERA, luck certainly plays into it.
“That’s the best election result of the day,” said satisfied general manager Harry Dalton. “I’m so happy for Pete. He’s pitched well enough to win it for two years. I knew he earned it, he should get it, but whether the people voting would recognize that, you’re never sure. This gives him the type of recognition he’s truly earned the past two years. I’m just thrilled for him.”
Speaking of the last two years, the Brewers are now a Robin Yount MVP away from sweeping the two major awards two years running. Reliever Rollie Fingers won both the AL MVP and Cy Young awards last season.
Vuckovich received 14 of the possible 28 first-place votes while the leftovers were split up among Toronto’s Dave Stieb (five), Baltimore’s Jim Palmer (four), Kansas City’s Dan Quisenberry (four), and Cleveland’s Rick Sutcliffe (one).
|Player – Tm||Pts||1st||W||L||SO||SV||IP||ERA|
|P Vuckovich, MIL||87||14||18||6||105||0||223.2||3.34|
|Jim Palmer, BAL||59||4||15||5||103||1||227.0||3.13|
|D Quisenberry, KCR||40||4||9||7||46||35||136.2||2.57|
|Dave Stieb, TOR||36||5||17||14||141||0||288.1||3.25|
|Rick Sutcliffe, CLE||14||1||14||8||142||1||216.0||2.96|
|Geoff Zahn, CAL||7||0||18||8||81||0||229.1||3.73|
|Bill Caudill, SEA||4||0||12||9||111||26||95.2||2.35|
|Bob Stanley, BOS||4||0||12||7||83||14||168.1||3.10|
|Dan Petry, DET||1||0||15||9||132||0||246.0||3.22|