Author Topic: Sabathia takes home AL Cy Young  (Read 2391 times)

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Sabathia takes home AL Cy Young
« on: November 13, 2007, 04:32:51 PM »
Sabathia takes home AL Cy Young
11/13/2007 2:00 PM ET
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com



CLEVELAND -- The Cy Young questions sprang up midseason, as C.C. Sabathia consistently put together dominant performances for an Indians team in contention for a division title.

As those questions arose from reporters after each win, Sabathia shrugged them off. It was the team's success, not the individual glory, that he sought.

But individual glory caught up with the Indians' ace left-hander on Tuesday.

In voting conducted by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Sabathia beat Boston's Josh Beckett for his first American League Cy Young Award. He is only the second pitcher in Indians history to win the award -- the first being Gaylord Perry, who won it in 1972.

The 27-year-old Sabathia was rewarded for a regular season that saw him go 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA in 34 starts. The win total, ERA mark and number of starts were all career bests for Sabathia, as were his strikeout total of 209 and his innings total of 241, which led the Majors.

Sabathia, who twice faced Beckett head-to-head in the AL Championship Series and lost each time, bested Beckett in the Cy Young voting in large part because of that innings mark.

Though Beckett certainly had award-worthy credentials with a 20-7 record and 3.27 ERA in 30 starts for the AL East champion Red Sox, he was 40 1/3 innings shy of Sabathia's tally.

Furthermore, Sabathia didn't have the run support that Beckett had. While the Red Sox put together an average of 6.4 runs in Beckett's starts, the Indians afforded Sabathia an average of 5.1.

Had Sabathia's run support been stronger, he no doubt would have become the first Indians pitcher since Perry to win 20 games in a single season. Alas, Sabathia had nine starts in which he received a loss or no-decision while pitching five or more innings and giving up two earned runs or less.

Though that 20th victory eluded him, Sabathia polished his Cy Young credentials in other ways. He ranked second in the AL in complete games (four), fifth in strikeouts, tied for third in winning percentage (.731) and finished sixth in walks and hits per inning pitched (1.14). Toss in his second-place finish in the win column, and Sabathia was the only AL pitcher to rank in the top six in each of those categories.

"It feels good to have a consistent year all the way through," Sabathia said shortly after the season ended. "It was nice to stay healthy and be consistent and pitch well and be the guy I need to be in this clubhouse."

The Indians, who will try to negotiate a contract extension with Sabathia this winter, asked him to be that guy not long after his rookie season of 2001, when he won 17 games. But his temper and his reliance mainly on his upper-90s fastball prevented him from being the type of pure pitcher needed to anchor a rotation.

Until midseason 2005, that is. That's when Sabathia refocused his energy into throwing the opposition more breaking balls early in the count and began keeping his emotions in check.

He's been dominant ever since. From Aug. 1, 2005, through the end of the '07 regular season, Sabathia went 40-19 with a 3.06 ERA.

"I think he really feels confidence in all his pitches at any time," Tribe pitching coach Carl Willis said recently. "C.C.'s been here a long time, but still, at 27, to have that type of confidence in all your pitches is tremendous."

Unfortunately for the Indians, Sabathia couldn't keep up that dominance in October, as he went 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA in three starts against the Yankees and Red Sox.

When the Indians were ousted in the ALCS, Sabathia said the blame fell squarely on his shoulders, even though fellow 19-game winner Fausto Carmona had also struggled.

That attitude was consistent with the leadership mentality Sabathia took on for the Indians this season.

"You couldn't tell a difference when he walked out of the locker room, if he had won 1-0 or lost 1-0," manager Eric Wedge said recently. "That's leadership, and that's presence. His teammates saw that."

And now they're seeing Sabathia elevated to a new level of personal glory.