The 2017 Cy Young recipients are both repeat winners, with Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians claiming honors in the American League and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals taking home his second straight National League trophy.
Kluber beat out AL finalists Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees by receiving 28 out of 30 first-place votes and 204 total points.
Scherzer came out ahead of Nationals teammate Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers with 27 first-place votes and 201 total points.
AL Cy Young Voting
1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (204 points; 28 first-place votes)
2. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox (126 points; two first-place votes)
3. Luis Severino, New York Yankees (73 points)
4. Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians (43 points)
5. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers/Houston Astros (32 points)
NL Cy Young Voting
1. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals (201 points; 27 first-place votes)
2. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (126 points; three first-place votes)
3. Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals (81 points)
4. Zack Greinke, Arizona Diamondbacks (52 points)
5. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (22 points)
Diving into the numbers, even against stiff competition, it's clear why Kluber and Scherzer were named the best pitcher in their respective league for the 2017 Major League Baseball season.
Starting with Kluber, who previously won the AL Cy Young in 2014, his season got off to a disastrous start. The Indians right-hander had a 5.06 ERA with more hits allowed (38) than innings pitched (37.1) after a May 2 outing against the Detroit Tigers.
Kluber was placed on the disabled list with a back injury on May 3. He returned on June 1, looking like a completely different pitcher. He was named AL Pitcher of the Month in June, August and September with a 1.62 ERA and 224 strikeouts in 166.1 innings over his final 23 starts.
In addition to those dazzling numbers, the Indians showed the full depth of Kluber's dominance in 2017:
Cleveland Indians @Indians
#CyKluber is the 19th pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards. By the numbers: https://t.co/adz4RFAahi2017-11-15 23:35:05
Upon being named the AL Cy Young winner, the always stoic Kluber had a perfect emotional response to the moment:
MLB GIFS @MLBGIFs
TFW you win the #CyYoung Award. 😂😭 https://t.co/vKvis3gqQZ2017-11-15 23:35:41
Two of Kluber's Cleveland teammates took to Twitter to congratulate the ace on his award:
Jose Ramirez @MrLapara
The. Best. 🏆 https://t.co/c2rIt9RLFB2017-11-15 23:28:07
Jason Kipnis @TheJK_Kid
2..... #CyKluber 🤫 https://t.co/xH8lqznX7v2017-11-15 23:36:26
Kluber and Sale were close in several key categories. Sale had a slight edge in FanGraphs' wins above replacement (7.7 to 7.3), a significant edge in total strikeouts (308 to 265) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.9 to 11.7).
One potential separating factor for Kluber was closing strong down the stretch. Cleveland's ace had a 1.42 ERA from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30. Sale had a 4.09 ERA during that same two-month period, pushing his season ERA up to 2.90.
After the All-Star break, per Bastian, Kluber had a historic strikeout-to-walk ratio:
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian
Corey Kluber's 11.8 K/BB in 2nd half was 3rd-best in MLB history after the break among pitchers with 100+ IP. Only Cliff Lee (13.6 in 2012) and Pedro (12.0 in 2000) had better marks.2017-11-15 20:14:24
Kluber is the fourth Cleveland Cy Young winner since 2007, joining CC Sabathia (2007) and Cliff Lee (2008). He's also the first player in franchise history to win the award multiple times.
Cleveland Indians @Indians
For the first time in club history, we have a two-time Cy Young Award winner. Congrats, Corey! #CyKluber https://t.co/7XGhrtGJt62017-11-15 23:18:25
Like Kluber in the AL, Scherzer was the overwhelming favorite to take home the honor as the NL's top pitcher. Washington's superstar was the only one of the three finalists who made at least 30 starts and threw at least 200 innings.
Washington Nationals @Nationals
Max Scherzer has won the National League Cy Young Award! (Yes, this is a new tweet.) https://t.co/v6sapCpnAZ2017-11-15 23:50:41
Strasburg and Kershaw both missed multiple weeks due to injuries during the regular season. Strasburg finished with 175.1 innings, and Kershaw was on his heels with 175.0.
Scherzer led all NL pitchers with 6.0 WAR, just ahead of Strasburg (5.6) and far beyond Kershaw (4.6).
Per Mike Oz of Yahoo Sports, the numbers were stacked in Scherzer's favor to win his third Cy Young award:
"Scherzer was great across the board. His 268 strikeouts were the most in the NL. His 200.2 innings pitched were tops among the three finalists. His 2.51 ERA wasn’t as good as Kershaw’s, but it was the third-best in MLB, so still excellent. There’s no real knock on Scherzer’s season. The real separator between Scherzer and the others here is innings pitched. He topped the all-important 200-innings threshold while neither Kershaw nor Strasburg did."
Last year, Scherzer became the sixth pitcher in MLB history to win a Cy Young award in both leagues. His first one came in 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
With his Cy Young triumph in 2017, Scherzer becomes just the 10th pitcher with at least three awards on his resume. He's also the second NL pitcher in the last five seasons to win it in consecutive seasons (Kershaw, 2013-14).
ESPN's Buster Olney thinks Scherzer has already carved out a Hall of Fame career for himself at the age of 33:
Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN
Max Scherzer has 10 years in the big leagues and he's won three Cy Young Awards; top 5 five times. https://t.co/85ENXaV5u7 A future Hall of Famer, even if he never threw another pitch.2017-11-15 23:50:09
Per MLB Stats of the Day, the last five seasons have helped put Scherzer on his path to Cooperstown:
MLB Stat of the Day @MLBStatoftheDay
.@Max_Scherzer’s last five seasons, though … 5 All-Star appearances 3 #CyYoung awards 200+ innings each season 240+ strikeouts each season https://t.co/MnlEQK5HQK2017-11-15 23:56:58
Ryan M. Spaeder of the Sporting News showed other pitchers in MLB history with similar numbers to Scherzer:
Ryan M. Spaeder @theaceofspaeder
#Nationals Max Scherzer has 2,149 strikeouts and a 1.119 WHIP in his career. Below is a list of pitchers who best him in both categories. Pedro Martinez* Juan Marichal* Sandy Koufax* Walter Johnson* Eddie Plank* Christy Mathewson* Rube Waddell* *Hall of Famer2017-11-15 23:59:26
Michael Ginnitti of Spotrac offered a fun salary comparison between this year's two Cy Young winners:
AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber has earned $15.4M in 7 seasons with the #Indians. NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer reeled in $15M in 2017 alone from the #Nationals.2017-11-15 23:52:13
Regardless of the differences in financial compensation for Kluber and Scherzer, both pitchers dominated their respective league better than anyone else and deserve the honor bestowed upon them.
As offensive numbers exploded throughout MLB in 2017, pitching took on increased importance for all 30 teams. Kluber and Scherzer separated themselves from the pack to be called the best in their league.
An emerging star like Severino figures to be in the Cy Young race for years to come, while old stalwarts like Kershaw and Sale have plenty of big seasons ahead of them.