The Top 10 Cy Young Award Winners of All Time
This has got to be one of the toughest lists ever here at Bleacher Report, and I expect full-throated disagreement.
The Cy Young Award has been around since 1956, and looking at the list of recipients and the seasons they had is a jaw-dropping experience.
But it's worth a shot to put them all together into the mix, and to take my stab at the 10 best in order "last" to first.
There are no losers here; just too many left out.
(How could I leave off Pedro Martinez? Who would you have him replace? What about Warren Spahn? Geez. This was tough.)
Anyway, here we go.
Roger Clemens, 1986
The first of his seven Cy Young awards, and done as a youngster with (I assume) no juice.
24-4, 2.48 ERA. Sweet.
Tom Seaver and the 1969 Amazin' Mets
Who woulda thunk it?
In 1969, the first year of divisional play, the New York Mets came out of nowhere to be world champions. They could never have done it without Tom Seaver, a young pitcher who went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA.
He was truly amazin' that year and beyond, and garnered one of the highest percentages of votes ever for the Hall of Fame once he became eligible.
Randy Johnson, the 2002 Pitching Triple Crown
Randy Johnson won four consecutive Cy Young Awards, and the last of those in 2002 was his most magnificent.
That year he went 24-5 and led the National League in wins, strikeouts and ERA.
He set a record with his fourth consecutive season of 300 or more strikeouts, and he is in the bottom half of this list? I told you it was a tough one.
Vida Blue, What a Debut (1971)
In 1971, Blue was the AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. He went 24-8 with 24 complete games and eight shutouts with a1.82 ERA.
Addiction cost Blue his shot at the Hall, but when he was on, he was magnificent.
Just like my next choice.
Dwight Gooden and Vida Blue are virtually mirror images. They were unhittable, but had careers derailed from greatness because of addiction. In 1985 Gooden was 24-4 with an astounding 1.53 ERA.
He was 20 years old.
The Ragin' Cajun (1978)
Ron Guidry, 1978: 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and nine shutouts. I remember that as one of the most dominant pitching performances of my lifetime.
His 25th win came in the one-game playoff that the Yankees won over the Red Sox when Bucky Dent ("Bucky"??) hit his famous, or infamous, home run.
Sorry to bring that one up, Boston, but even the most diehard Red Sox fan has to give it up for Guidry in 1978.
What, You Think I Could Leave Koufax Off This List? (1966)
To those of us who were teens in the 1960s, there was Sandy Koufax and everyone else. As great as Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn and Don Drysdale were in the early '60s, there was only one Sandy Koufax.
He was as close to unhittable as any pitcher has ever been over a five-year period, and he won three Cy Young Awards all by unanimous vote.
He gets the nod here for his last one in 1966. He was advised to retire before the season started, but ended up pitching 323 innings, went 27-9 and posted a (what???) 1.73 ERA.
How could any three seasons top Sandy Koufax? Pay attention.
31 Wins. Any Argument Here?
Dennis Dale McLain was near and dear to this lifelong Tigers fan's heart, even though he turned into a nasty human being.
What an enigma. He was enormously bright, talented and a truly gifted radio show host.
He unfortunately dealt with heartbreaking tragedy (his young daughter was killed in an auto accident).
Later in life, he ripped off a viable company by wrecking its employees' pensions and went to prison for it.
But let's talk baseball here. In 1968, he was unbelievable. He won his 30th game on my 17th birthday, and I will never forget the moment.
The stats take your breath away: 31-6, 1.96 ERA and he completed 28 (!) games.
The next year, he won another Cy Young Award, tied with Mike Cuellar of the Orioles.
We will all be dead and gone before any other pitcher wins 30, which is unlikely to happen again. But Denny McLain did it in 1968, and it was no fluke. Any questions?
No Season Quite Like It: Steve Carlton (1972)
It's pretty tough to put this season only second all time, quite frankly. Steve Carlton in 1972 was astounding, but that hardly begins to describe it. The 1972 Phillies were 59-97, and Carlton was 27-10. Figure that math out, my friends. Carlton was also the first to win four Cy Young Awards, and you can look up the rest of his stats.
But winning 27 games for a 59-win team is beyond ridiculous. That's Secretariat at the Belmont, Nicklaus on the back nine of the '86 Masters, Magic Johnson subbing for Kareem in his rookie year in the last game of the NBA Finals.
It can't happen, but it did. Only one other performance could possibly eclipse this one.
Intimidation. Period. (Gibson 1968)
Gibson was the Baddest. I have a Sports Illustrated cover from 1993 autographed by Gibson and McLain. I treasure it.
In 1968, Bob Gibson went 22-9 with 13 shutouts. Opposing batters hit for a .184 batting average against him. He pitched 47 consecutive scoreless innings. He struck out 17 of my Tigers in the World Series opener, a record that still stands.
Oh, and in case you just flew in here from another galaxy, he posted a 1.12 ERA that year. You might have heard about that.
Plenty of room for argument about this list, but Bob Gibson at the top sounds about right to me.
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