2009 NL Cy Young

Tim Lincecum Goes Back-to-Back With Tight Win

lincecumTim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants was elected the National League Cy Young Award winner for the second consecutive year in balloting by the BBWAA. Lincecum had the lowest victory total over a full season of any starting pitcher who won the award in either league.

The previous low victory total for a Cy Young Award-winning starter in a season not affected by a strike was by Brandon Webb, who was 16-8 for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. It was matched Tuesday by 2009 American League winner Zack Greinke, who was 16-8 for the Kansas City Royals.

The election also marked only the second time that a pitcher won the award without receiving the most first-place votes. Of the 32 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, Lincecum (15-7, 2.48 ERA) was listed first on 11, one fewer than the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright (19-8, 2.63 ERA), who finished third overall behind teammate Chris Carpenter (17-4, 2.24 ERA), the 2005 winner.

Lincecum was named second on 12 ballots and third on nine for a total of 100 points, based on a 5-3-1 tabulation system. In addition to his 12 first-place votes, Wainwright got five seconds and 15 thirds to score 90 points. Lincecum and Wainwright were the only pitchers on all ballots. Carpenter was first on nine ballots, second on 14 and third on seven for 94 points.

The only other time a pitcher won the Cy Young Award without the most first-place votes was in 1998 when the Atlanta Braves’ Tom Glavine had 11 to San Diego Padres reliever Trevor Hoffman’s 13 but out-pointed him overall, 98-88.

The six-point margin was tied for the third closest election in the NL since the ballot expanded from one to three pitchers in 1970. The 10-point margin among the top three vote getters was the second closest in NL voting. In 1987, Philadelphia Phillies reliever Steve Bedrosian beat out the Chicago Cubs’ Rick Sutcliffe, 57-55, with Rick Reuschel, who pitched for both the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants that year, running a close third with 54 points.

The second closest 1-2 election was in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela defeating the Cincinnati Reds’ Tom Seaver, 70-67. This year’s election equals that of 1979 when the Cubs’ Bruce Sutter edged the Houston Astros’ Joe Niekro, 72-66.

Lincecum, one of only two Giants pitchers honored (left-hander Mike McCormick won in 1967), led the NL in strikeouts with 261 in 225 1/3 innings and was tied for the league lead in complete games (4) and shutouts (2). Carpenter led the league in ERA and winning percentage (.810). Wainwright topped the NL in victories and innings (233).

Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson share the record for consecutive Cy Young victories with four. As a repeat winner, Lincecum also joins Sandy Koufax (1965-66) in the NL. AL repeat winners were Roger Clemens, who did it twice (1986-87, 1997-98), Denny McLain (1968-69), Jim Palmer (1975-76) and Pedro Martinez (1999-2000).

The voting:

1st 2nd 3rd Points
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants 11 12 9 100
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals 9 14 7 94
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals 12 5 15 90
Javier Vazquez, Atlanta Braves 1 3
Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks 1 1

Full voter-by-voter results

Award schedule

Monday, Nov. 16: AL & NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards.
Tuesday, Nov. 17: AL Cy Young Award.
Wednesday, Nov. 18: AL & NL Manager of the Year Awards.
Thursday, Nov. 19: NL Cy Young Award.
Monday, Nov. 23: AL Most Valuable Player Award.
Tuesday, Nov. 24: NL Most Valuable Player Award.