Before the Cy Young – 4

Almost immediately after the death of Cy Young, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick was able to convince everyone that there needed to be an award for the best pitcher in baseball – one that was named in his honor.

They only gave out one, though. So I get to pick a winner for the other league.

And no, I’m not going to discuss the actual winners. You can read about them yourself.

1956

AL: There are three contenders this year: Whitey Ford (19-6, 2.47 ERA (leading the majors)), and the Indians’ Herb Score (20-9, 2.53 ERA) and Early Wynn (20-9, 2.72 ERA). Score gets my vote with 263 Ks (9.5 per 9 innings) to lead the majors.

NL: Don Newcombe won the NL MVP award, too.

1957

AL: It comes down to Jim Bunning of the Tigers (20-8, 2.69 ERA) and Billy Pierce (20-12, 3.26 ERA). Bunning is clearly better, but Pierce came in fifth in the MVP voting. Maybe they saw something I’m not. I’m still giving the Cy to Bunning, though.

NL: Warren Spahn

1958

AL: Bob Turley

NL: Braves’ teammates Lew Burdette (20-10, 2.91 ERA) and Warren Spahn (22-11, 3.01 ERA) will fight it out. Spahn did better in the actual voting, so we’ll have to give him his second straight award.

1959

AL: Early Wynn

NL: Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette, and the Giants’ Sam Jones all finished with 21-15 records. Vernon Law of the Pirates had the league’s best W-L percentage with an 18-9 record. But Jones took the league’s ERA title with 2.83.

1960

AL: A really “meh” year. The Orioles’ Chuck Estrada (18-11) and the Indians’ Jim Perry (18-10) tied for the league lead in wins. The White Sox’ Frank Bauman led the league in ERA with 2.67, but his record was only 13-6. Jim Bunning of the Tigers led in strikeouts with 201 and had a good ERA of 2.79 (second to Bauman), but had a losing record (11-14). Bunning led all pitchers in WAR, so he must have been doing something right.

NL: Vernon Law

1961

AL: Whitey Ford

NL: Warren Spahn led the league in ERA (3.02) and tied for the lead in wins with a 21-13 record. The Reds’ Jim O’Toole went 19-9 with a 3.10 ERA, to make it a tough call. O’Toole would get a boost from being on a pennant-winning team, but Spahn actually came in second in the actual voting.

1962

AL: The Yankees’ Ralph Terry led the league in wins with a 23-12 record, but the award is going to the Tigers’ Hank Aguirre, who led the majors with a 2.28 ERA while compiling a respectable 16-8 record.

NL: Don Drysdale

1963

AL: Lots of players to vote for. Whitey Ford (24-7, 2.74 ERA), Camilo Pascual of the Twins (21-9, 2.46 ERA), Gary Peters of the White Sox (19-8, 2.33 ERA), and even Jim Bouton (21-7, 2.53 ERA) would get serious consideration. I suspect Ford would win since he came in third in the MVP voting, but I’m voting for Pascual…..

NL: Sandy Koufax

1964

AL: Dean Chance

NL: Sandy Koufax (19-5, 1.74 ERA, 223 K’s) and Juan Marichal (21-8, 2.48, 206 K’s) fight it out. The Phillies’ Chris Short (17-9. 2.20 ERA) will collect some votes. You couldn’t really go wrong with any of them.

1965

AL: A tough call. Jim “Mudcat” Grant of the Twins led the league in wins with a 21-7 record; the Yankees’ Mel Stottlemyre was second at 20-9. But Stottlemyre had the better ERA: 2.63 to 3.30. Sam McDowell of the Indians led the league in both ERA (2.18) and strikeouts (325). Even though his record was only 17-11, I find myself voting for him – even though Grant did better in that year’s MVP voting….

NL: Sandy Koufax

1966

AL: Jim Kaat of the Twins led the league in wins (25-13) and his ERA of 2.75 was good enough for sixth – and none of the five pitchers ahead of him were even close to his league-leading 304.2 innings pitched.

NL: Sandy Koufax

After this year, baseball woke up and decided to give out a Cy Young Award in each league. And if you think I’m going to go through the winners and argue over who didn’t deserve it and who should have won, you’re insane.

I’m not done yet, though. Some final thoughts next time.

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