It’s hardly a surprise, but now it’s official: Gerrit Cole is the American League Cy Young Award winner.
It’s the first award for the New York Yankees ace.
The Yankees signed the 2011 No. 1 overall pick to the largest deal ever given to a pitcher (nine years, $324 million) before the 2020 season, and like most superstars in the Bronx, it’s been a love-hate relationship.
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It was always clear the talent Cole possesses, but questions arose when he couldn’t even get through three innings in the 2021 AL wild-card game (albeit hurt), and he had maybe the most disappointing season of his career in 2022. Fans started to wonder if he was a product of sticky stuff and if he was truly an ace.
Well, he is. He led the AL with a 2.63 ERA (second in MLB) and 209 innings (third), and his 0.98 WHIP was the best mark in all of baseball. He also led the majors with two shutouts while his 222 strikeouts were third in the AL and fifth in the majors.
Cole had been the favorite to win the award when he started the All-Star Game in Seattle, marking the fifth straight time he earned All-Star honors (there was no midsummer classic in 2020). His last start was his second shutout of the season, all but cementing that he would win the award – although it came at the expense of the Yankees’ worst record since 1992 as they finished 82-80 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2016.
BLAKE SNELL, ZAC GALLEN, LOGAN WEBB HEADLINE INTERESTING NL CY YOUNG AWARD RACE
This is the first time Cole has won the hardware. He finished second in 2021 and 2019, fourth in 2020 and 2015, fifth in 2018 and ninth in 2022.
Cole had been the heavy favorite late in 2021, but when he hurt his hamstring in September, he allowed 15 earned runs in his final 17.2 innings, letting the award slip to Robbie Ray. Some also believe he was robbed in 2019 when he lost to then-teammate Justin Verlander in 2019. So, perhaps it’s a long time coming for the 33-year-old.
Of course, with New York expectations, his contract will only be deemed a success based on how many championships he wins in the Bronx, not how many Cy Young Awards he wins (he has zero titles, with four years down).
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Cole can opt out of his contract after this season, so perhaps he could seek another deal if he repeats this season’s success. And who’s to say that can’t happen?