Dominant Dodgers’ closer Eric Gagne wins Cy Young Award

Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers ended Randy Johnson’s four-year hold on the National League Cy Young Award by winning the 2003 election of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Gagne, 27, who converted all 55 of his save opportunities during the season and became the first pitcher with more than 50 saves in two different seasons, was named first on 28 ballots and second on two of the 32 cast by two writers from each league city to score 146 points, based on a 5-3-1 tabulation system. Only four pitchers received votes, and none was on every ballot.

Gagne had a 2-3 record with a 1.20 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. The only blemish on his season was in a game that did not count in the standings. Gagne gave up a two-run home run to Texas’ Hank Blalock that won the All-Star Game for the American League, the only blown save the righthander sustained all year.

Receiving two first-place votes apiece were San Francisco Giants righthander Jason Schmidt (17-5, 2.34 ERA, 208 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings), who finished second with 73 points, and Chicago Cubs righthander Mark Prior (18-6, 2.43 ERA, 245 strikeouts in 211 1/3 innings), who ranked third with 60 points. Atlanta Braves righthander Russ Ortiz (21-7, 3.81 ERA) was in fourth place with nine points.

Gagne is the first reliever to win since Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley in the American League in 1992 and the first NL reliever to win since San Diego’s Mark Davis in 1989. Overall, relievers have won nine times. Gagne is the fifth NL winner. A native and resident of Montreal, Gagne is the second Canadian pitcher honored, joining 1971 winner Ferguson Jenkins of Chatham, Ontario.

The vote:

2003 NL Cy Young

ERIC GAGNELos Angeles Dodgers282146
JASON SCHMIDTSan Francisco Giants2171273
MARK PRIORChicago Cubs2111760
RUSS ORTIZAtlanta Braves239