For the second time, Justin Verlander is the American League Cy Young Award winner. The Astros' veteran right-hander won the 2019 AL Cy Young on the strength of a season that saw him pitch to a 2.58 ERA/179 with a career-high 300 strikeouts in an MLB-leading 223 innings. Verlander also led the majors in WHIP, K/BB ratio and innings per start and tied for third in quality start percentage. As well, Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in September and led the bigs with 21 wins on the season.
Verlander, coming off his age-36 campaign, becomes the oldest Cy Young winner since R.A. Dickey in 2012. Verlander previously won the award in 2011 with the Tigers. He's now the 21st pitcher in MLB history to win multiple Cy Young Awards. Verlander was also AL MVP in 2011, and with this Cy Young win he joins Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Roger Clemens, and Clayton Kershaw as the only pitchers to win the MVP and multiple Cy Youngs.
Verlander is the fourth Astro to win the Cy Young. The previous Houston winners were Mike Scott in 1986, Clemens in 2004, and Dallas Keuchel in 2015. Verlander also joins Jacob deGrom () and Tom Seaver as the only former Rookies of the Year to win multiple Cy Young awards.
Verlander prevailed over fellow finalists Gerrit Cole, also of the Astros, and Charlie Morton of the Rays. Cole, who's now a free agent, finished second in the balloting thanks to his AL-leading 2.50 ERA and MLB-leading 326 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings. Verlander and Cole are just the fifth pair of teammates to finish first and second in the Cy Young vote and the first since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling of the 2002 Diamondbacks. Cole finished in the top five of the balloting for the third time in his career.
Morton in 194 2/3 innings, registered an ERA of 3.05 with 240 strikeouts. For a time, Morton looked like the favorite in the AL, but his 4.06 ERA after the All-Star break hurt his cause.
Verlander took 17 of 30 first place votes in the balloting, and the remaining 13 went to Cole. That means that if just two voters who had Verlander first had flipped, then it would've been a tie. Here are the full results of the 2019 AL Cy Young vote:
1. Justin Verlander, Astros (171 points)
2. Gerrit Cole, Astros (159 points)
3. Charlie Morton, Rays (75 points)
4. Shane Bieber, Indians (64 points)
5. Lance Lynn, Rangers (18 points)
T-6. Lucas Giolito, White Sox; Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox (8 points)
8. Mike Minor, Rangers (7 points)
Verlander and Cole were the only AL pitchers named on every ballot.
With his 225 career wins; 3,006 strikeouts; and career WAR of 71.4, Verlander was likely already bound for the Hall of Fame, especially since he's self-evidently still pitching at a high level. This additional hardware only helps his eventual case.