Brewers’ Corbin Burnes wins tight Cy Young race

Courtesy Kristen Schmitt/Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers’ right-hander Corbin Burnes narrowly edged the Philadelphia Phillies’ Zack Wheeler to win the National League Cy Young Award.

The 10-point margin of victory is the closest in the National League and tied for the fourth overall since the ballot expanded from three to five pitchers in 2010. The closest in the American League was in 2012 when the Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price outpointed the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander, 153-149. Verlander also lost by five points, 137-132, to the Boston Red Sox’ Rick Porcello in 2016, and the Cleveland Indians’ Corey Kluber won in 2014 by a 169-159 margin over the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez in 2014.

This election marks only the second time that the winner and the runner-up received the same amount of first-place votes. In 1981, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela and the Cincinnati Reds’ Tom Seaver each received eight first-place votes with Valenzuela winning by total points, 70-67.

In two other NL elections, a pitcher won without receiving the most first-place votes. In 1998, the Atlanta Braves’ Tom Glavine won by a 99-88 score over the San Diego Padres’ Trevor Hoffman, who had more first-place votes, 13-11. In 2009, the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum received 11 first-place votes, one fewer than the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, but won the election with 100 points to 94 for the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter, who had nine first-place votes, and 90 for Wainwright.

The closest election overall in NL voting occurred 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 closest election in the American League occurred in 1969 with the only tie in Cy Young Award balloting, between the Baltimore Orioles’ Mike Cuellar and the Detroit Tigers’ Denny McLain, the last year when voters could select only one pitcher.

Burnes is the first Milwaukee Brewers pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in the NL. The only other Cy Young Award winners for the Brewers, Rollie Fingers in 1981 and Pete Vuckovich in 1982, did so in the AL. The Brewers moved to the NL in 1998.

Burnes’ victory total of 11 is tied for the second lowest of any starting pitcher in a full season to win the award, matching that of the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom in 2019. DeGrom holds the record for the fewest victories for a winning starting pitcher over a full season, with 10 for the Mets in 2018.

Burnes, Wheeler and three-time winner Max Sherzer were named on every ballot.

Ballots, submitted prior to postseason play, were cast by two writers representing each league city. They are tabulated on a system that awards seven points for first place, four points for second place, three points for third place, two votes for fourth place and one point for fifth place.

2021 NL Cy Young

 1st2nd3rd4th5thPoints
Corbin Burnes, Brewers 121431151
Zack Wheeler, Phillies 129441141
Max Scherzer, Nationals/Dodgers65136113
Walker Buehler, Dodgers 2917170
Brandon Woodruff, Brewers 21721
Kevin Gausman, Giants 147
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 33
Julio Urias, Dodgers 33
Jacob deGrom, Mets 11

Below is a breakdown of the 30 individual ballots, submitted by two writers representing each city in the National League. For more information on the voting, see our Voting FAQ.

NameAffiliationChapter1st2nd3rd4th5th
Charles OdumThe Associated PressATLScherzerWheelerBurnesBuehlerUrias
David O'BrienThe AthleticATLScherzerBurnesBuehlerWheelerGausman
Nick PiecoroThe Arizona RepublicAZWheelerBurnesBuehlerScherzerWoodruff
Zach BuchananThe AthleticAZWheelerBurnesScherzerWoodruffDeGrom
Tony AndrackiMarquee Sports NetworkCHIBurnesScherzerWheelerBuehlerWoodruff
Jordan BastianMLB.comCHIBurnesWheelerScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
C. Trent RosecransThe AthleticCINBurnesWheelerScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
Charlie GoldsmithCincinnati EnquirerCINBurnesScherzerBuehlerWoodruffWheeler
Thomas HardingMLB.ckmCOLScherzerBurnesGausmanWheelerBuehler
Jack EtkinAt-largeCOLWheelerBurnesBuehlerScherzerUrias
Fabian ArdayaThe AthleticLABurnesScherzerWheelerBuehlerWoodruff
Bill PlunkettSouthern California Newspaper GroupLAScherzerBurnesBuehlerWheelerWoodruff
Jordan McPhersonMiami HeraldMIABurnesWheelerScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
Daniel AlvarezEl ExtrabaseMIAWheelerBurnesScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
Adam McCalvyMLB.comMILBurnesScherzerWheelerBuehlerWoodruff
Todd RosiakMilwaukee Journal SentinelMILBurnesScherzerBuehlerWheelerWoodruff
Tim HealeyNewsdayNYWheelerBurnesScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
Justin ToscanoBergen RecordNYWheelerBurnesScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
Todd ZoleckiMLB.comPHIWheelerBuehlerBurnesScherzerWoodruff
Scott LauberPhiladelphia InquirerPHIWheelerBurnesScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
Mike PersakPittsburgh Post-GazettePITWheelerBurnesScherzerBuehlerUrias
Kevin GormanPittsburgh Tribune-ReviewPITBurnesWheelerBuehlerScherzerWainwright
Dennis LinThe AthleticSDWheelerBuehlerScherzerBurnesWoodruff
AJ CassavellMLB.comSDBurnesWheelerScherzerBuehlerWoodruff
John SheaSan Francisco ChronicleSFWheelerBurnesBuehlerScherzerGausman
Alex PavlovicNBC Sports Bay AreaSFBurnesWheelerBuehlerScherzerGausman
Ryan FaganThe Sporting NewsSTLBurnesWheelerScherzerBuehlerWainwright
Katie WooThe AthleticSTLScherzerBurnesWheelerBuehlerWainwright
Maria TorresThe AthleticWASWheelerBurnesScherzerBuehlerGausman
Mark ZuckermanMASNsports.comWASScherzerWheelerBurnesBuehlerWoodruff