Cy Young Award Winners in Baseball

how cy young award winner is determined in baseball

It is the pinnacle of a high-stakes baseball season, where pitchers go toe-to-toe, wielding their skills and tactics with fierce determination.

In the midst of this captivating battle on the mound, there exists a coveted accolade that crowns the very best among them—the Cy Young Award.

This prestigious honor, named after the legendary pitcher Cy Young, holds immense significance in the world of baseball.

It symbolizes the pinnacle of pitching excellence, celebrating the artistry, dominance, and unwavering spirit displayed by those who grace the diamond.

But have you ever wondered how the Cy Young Award winner is determined in baseball?

What are the key factors that shape this momentous decision?

How do voters navigate the complex landscape of statistics, intangibles, and historical context to single out one pitcher who stands above all the rest?

In this intriguing exploration, we will delve into the inner workings of the Cy Young Award selection process.

We will unveil the key aspects considered, ranging from traditional pitching statistics to the subtle intangibles that set certain hurlers apart.

Get ready to uncover the secrets behind this prestigious accolade, as we unveil the captivating journey to crown the ultimate pitching virtuoso.

Prepare to be dazzled by the stories of past winners, awed by the criteria that shape their selection, and intrigued by the ongoing debates surrounding the role of this award in the ever-evolving world of baseball.

So, grab your glove and join us on this exhilarating ride as we unravel the enigma of how the Cy Young Award winner is determined in baseball—a journey that celebrates the unparalleled brilliance of those who master the art of pitching and etch their names in the annals of baseball history.

History of the Cy Young Award

The Cy Young Award was introduced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) in 1956, with the aim of honoring the best pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB).

It was named after Denton “Cy” Young, a revered pitcher who played from 1890 to 1911 and is considered one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game.

Young’s remarkable career, which included a record 511 wins, inspired the creation of an award that would recognize pitching excellence.

In its early years, the Cy Young Award had a straightforward selection process, with each voter selecting just one pitcher from either the American League or the National League.

However, as the game evolved and statistical analysis became more sophisticated, adjustments were made to the award’s criteria to ensure a more comprehensive evaluation of pitchers.

In 1967, the BBWAA implemented a change, allowing voters to select their top three choices in each league.

This modification expanded the pool of potential winners and provided a clearer picture of the top performers.

Subsequent updates included the introduction of weighted voting in 1970 and the expansion to five selections per voter in 1974.

Over time, the criteria for the Cy Young Award have adapted to reflect the changing nature of the game.

The rise of advanced analytics and sabermetrics has brought new metrics into consideration, providing a deeper understanding of a pitcher’s impact beyond traditional statistics.

As a result, factors such as adjusted ERA, fielding-independent pitching (FIP), and Wins Above Replacement (WAR) have gained prominence in the evaluation process.

The evolution of the Cy Young Award demonstrates a commitment to staying current with the game’s advancements and ensuring that deserving pitchers receive the recognition they deserve.

By embracing statistical innovations and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of baseball, the award continues to honor the legacy of Cy Young while acknowledging the achievements of today’s pitching elite.

Key Factors Considered in Determining the Cy Young Award Winner

  • Pitching statistics

Earned Run Average (ERA) stands as one of the fundamental statistics in evaluating a pitcher’s performance.

It represents the average number of earned runs a pitcher allows per nine innings.

A low ERA indicates a pitcher’s ability to effectively limit opponents’ scoring opportunities.

While wins and losses have become less significant in recent years due to the recognition of other factors, they still play a role in assessing a pitcher’s overall effectiveness.

Wins reflect a pitcher’s contribution to team success, although they are heavily influenced by factors beyond the pitcher’s control, such as run support and bullpen performance.

Strikeouts showcase a pitcher’s ability to overpower opposing batters and eliminate scoring threats.

The sheer number of strikeouts demonstrates dominance and the ability to generate swings and misses.

Innings pitched highlights a pitcher’s durability and reliability.

Pitchers who consistently log a high number of innings provide stability and relieve pressure on their team’s bullpen.

Complete games and shutouts showcase a pitcher’s ability to go the distance and finish what they started.

These statistics are becoming increasingly rare in the modern game, emphasizing the exceptional performance of pitchers who achieve them.

Walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP) evaluates a pitcher’s control and ability to limit baserunners.

A low WHIP indicates an ability to prevent opponents from reaching base and subsequently scoring.

The number of home runs allowed by a pitcher is crucial in assessing their effectiveness in preventing scoring opportunities.

Limiting home runs helps maintain a low ERA and minimize opponents’ offensive production.

While these statistics provide a foundation for evaluating pitchers, they do not provide a complete picture.

Advanced metrics such as fielding-independent pitching (FIP) and adjusted statistics that account for ballpark and league factors offer additional insight into a pitcher’s performance, enabling a more nuanced assessment of their candidacy for the Cy Young Award.

  • Comparing pitchers across different leagues

To ensure a fair assessment of pitchers across different leagues, adjustments are made to account for league and ballpark factors.

This allows for an apples-to-apples comparison, eliminating any bias caused by variations in offensive or pitching environments.

Statistics are adjusted based on the league’s average performance levels, ensuring that a pitcher’s achievements are evaluated relative to their peers.

Furthermore, evaluating a pitcher’s performance against both league and non-league opponents provides a comprehensive view of their capabilities.

Pitchers may face teams from different divisions or leagues during interleague play, offering an opportunity to gauge their effectiveness against a broader range of competition.

By considering both league and non-league performances, the evaluation process ensures that the Cy Young Award winner truly stands out as the best pitcher, regardless of the specific league they compete in.

This approach emphasizes fairness and provides a more accurate representation of a pitcher’s skills and achievements on a broader scale.

  • Consideration of intangibles and context

While pitching statistics provide a quantitative foundation for evaluating Cy Young Award candidates, intangibles and context add an extra layer of assessment.

These factors consider the qualitative aspects of a pitcher’s performance and their impact on the team’s success.

The quality of opposition faced by a pitcher holds significance in determining their value.

Pitching against formidable opponents, such as All-Star hitters or teams in playoff contention, demonstrates the ability to excel in challenging circumstances.

Dominating strong lineups or performing well against top-tier offenses indicates a pitcher’s skill and adaptability.

A pitcher’s performance in crucial games or high-pressure situations can elevate their candidacy.

Stepping up and delivering exceptional outings when the stakes are high showcases mental toughness and the ability to thrive under pressure.

These clutch performances often leave a lasting impression on voters and fans alike.

Moreover, the overall impact of a pitcher on their team’s success is taken into account.

A pitcher’s ability to positively influence their team’s fortunes, whether through consistently strong performances or leading their team to important victories, carries weight in the award’s evaluation.

Factors such as leadership, competitiveness, and the ability to provide stability and confidence to the team are considered when assessing a pitcher’s value beyond the numbers.

By considering these intangibles and the context in which a pitcher performs, the Cy Young Award selection process takes into account the holistic impact of their contributions.

It recognizes that excellence goes beyond statistics alone, valuing the intangible qualities that separate truly exceptional pitchers from their peers.

Voting Process for the Cy Young Award

  • Selection panel and eligibility

The selection panel for the Cy Young Award consists of members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).

These writers, who cover Major League Baseball (MLB) on a regular basis, possess extensive knowledge of the game and its intricacies.

Their expertise and insights contribute to the credibility and integrity of the award.

Each team’s local BBWAA chapter plays a crucial role in the nomination process.

They evaluate the performances of pitchers from their respective teams throughout the season, considering a range of statistical and qualitative factors.

The chapter members collaborate to select the most deserving candidates to be put forward for consideration.

Once the nominations are finalized, the voting process commences.

BBWAA members receive ballots on which they rank their top five choices in each league.

The points system is used to determine the winners, with pitchers receiving higher point values based on their rankings.

The eligibility for the Cy Young Award is determined by a pitcher’s performance within a given season.

To be eligible, a pitcher must meet certain criteria, such as a minimum number of innings pitched or appearances.

This ensures that only pitchers who have made a significant impact throughout the season are considered for the award.

The involvement of the BBWAA and the nomination process carried out by each team’s local chapter contributes to a thorough and democratic selection process for the Cy Young Award.

The collective expertise and dedication of the writers help maintain the prestige and integrity of the award, ensuring that it is bestowed upon the most deserving pitchers each year.

  • Voting timeline and announcement of winners

The voting timeline for the Cy Young Award aligns with the conclusion of the regular season, allowing BBWAA members to thoroughly evaluate the performances of pitchers.

The voting typically takes place in the weeks following the final game of the regular season, providing ample time for reflection and analysis.

BBWAA members receive their official ballots and carefully consider the performances of pitchers in both the American League and the National League.

They rank their top five choices for each league, assigning points based on their rankings.

The point system follows a 7-4-3-2-1 format, with 7 points awarded for a first-place vote, 4 points for second place, 3 points for third place, 2 points for fourth place, and 1 point for fifth place.

After the voting process is complete, the BBWAA tabulates the results.

The winners of the Cy Young Award for each league are announced in November.

The announcement ceremony garners significant attention and excitement, as fans and players eagerly anticipate the recognition of the outstanding pitchers who have achieved the highest level of excellence in their respective leagues.

The timing of the voting process and the subsequent announcement of the winners allow for proper deliberation and a thorough evaluation of the pitchers’ performances, ensuring that the most deserving candidates are honored with the prestigious Cy Young Award.

  • Weighting of different factors by voters

When it comes to the weighting of different factors in the Cy Young Award voting process, there is a certain degree of subjectivity.

While statistical achievements form the foundation of the evaluation, voters have the freedom to weigh these metrics according to their personal judgment and interpretation of a pitcher’s performance.

Some voters may place greater emphasis on traditional statistics such as ERA, wins, and strikeouts, considering them as reliable indicators of a pitcher’s effectiveness.

These metrics have stood the test of time and provide a tangible measurement of performance that resonates with many voters.

On the other hand, there are voters who delve deeper into advanced analytics and sabermetrics.

They may consider metrics like FIP, WAR, or adjusted statistics that account for park and league factors.

These advanced metrics provide a more nuanced understanding of a pitcher’s performance, taking into account factors beyond their control and providing a different perspective on their overall contribution.

The flexibility in weighting different factors allows for a diversity of viewpoints among voters, reflecting the multifaceted nature of pitching excellence.

It recognizes that different pitchers may excel in distinct areas and acknowledges the evolving understanding of performance evaluation in the modern game.

Ultimately, the collective choices of the voters converge to determine the Cy Young Award winner, with each ballot representing an individual perspective on the significance of various metrics and their relative importance in evaluating pitching excellence.

  • Potential biases and controversies in the voting process

While the Cy Young Award voting process is designed to be fair and objective, the inherent human element introduces the potential for biases and controversies.

Factors such as team success, media exposure, and preconceived notions can influence the voting decisions of individual BBWAA members.

One potential bias is the influence of team success.

Pitchers on winning teams may receive more attention and consideration due to their contributions to their team’s overall performance.

This bias can overshadow exceptional performances by pitchers on less successful teams, potentially impacting the fairness of the evaluation.

Media exposure also plays a role in shaping public perception and, consequently, the voting process.

Pitchers who receive extensive media coverage or play in large-market cities may have an advantage in terms of visibility and recognition, potentially leading to biases in their favor.

Reputations, both positive and negative, can also influence voting decisions.

Past performance, accolades, or controversies associated with a pitcher may subconsciously influence voters’ assessments, even if they aim to evaluate each season independently.

However, ongoing efforts are made to minimize biases and ensure a fair assessment.

Transparent guidelines and criteria for voting are provided to BBWAA members, emphasizing the importance of evaluating each season based on its merits.

Increased awareness and discussions around potential biases help promote a more conscious and equitable evaluation process.

Overall, while biases and controversies can arise in the voting process, the goal is to continuously improve and refine the system to ensure a fair and objective assessment of pitching excellence in the Cy Young Award selection.

  • Notable Cy Young Award Winners and their Seasons

Notable Cy Young Award winners throughout history have left an indelible mark on the sport with their remarkable seasons.

Their performances serve as benchmarks of pitching excellence and provide a captivating narrative within the realm of baseball history.

One cannot overlook the legendary Bob Gibson, who captured the award twice in his illustrious career.

His 1968 season stands as one of the most dominant in baseball history, boasting a minuscule 1.12 ERA and an astonishing 28 complete games.

Gibson’s unwavering brilliance showcased the epitome of pitching mastery.

In recent years, Jacob deGrom has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

His back-to-back Cy Young Award-winning seasons in 2018 and 2019 displayed unprecedented dominance, highlighted by an otherworldly combination of velocity, command, and sheer artistry on the mound.

DeGrom’s ability to consistently overpower hitters and his uncanny ability to limit runs solidify his status as one of the premier pitchers of his generation.

These notable winners, along with a host of other exceptional pitchers who have claimed the Cy Young Award, serve as a source of inspiration and admiration.

Their performances not only earned them individual accolades but also left an indelible imprint on the collective memory of baseball fans, reminding us of the awe-inspiring heights that can be reached by those who master the craft of pitching.

Comparing the Cy Young Award to Other Major Baseball Awards

  • Contrasting the Cy Young Award with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award

The Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award represent distinct categories within the realm of baseball accolades.

While the Cy Young Award is dedicated to honoring pitching excellence, the MVP Award recognizes the overall value and impact of a player, encompassing both offensive and defensive contributions.

The Cy Young Award’s criteria center around a pitcher’s statistical achievements, focusing on pitching-specific metrics such as ERA, strikeouts, and innings pitched.

It hones in on the mastery of the pitcher’s craft and the impact they have on the game solely from the mound.

In contrast, the MVP Award takes into account a player’s offensive prowess, defensive skills, baserunning abilities, and overall impact on team success.

It considers contributions from all positions, acknowledging the diverse skills and roles that players fulfill on the field.

The differing criteria and voter perspectives between the two awards reflect the unique nature of pitching excellence versus overall player value.

While the Cy Young Award showcases the specialized skill set of pitchers, the MVP Award provides a broader evaluation encompassing the multifaceted aspects of the game.

Understanding the distinctions between these two prestigious awards helps provide context and appreciation for the different dimensions of baseball excellence.

It acknowledges the diverse contributions of players across various positions and highlights the importance of both pitching prowess and overall player value in the fabric of the game.

  • Differences in criteria and voter perspectives

The contrasting criteria and voter perspectives between the MVP Award and the Cy Young Award reflect the differing emphasis placed on offensive and pitching performances.

The MVP Award tends to prioritize offensive contributions, considering metrics such as batting average, home runs, RBIs, and runs scored as primary factors in determining a player’s value.

This aligns with the notion that offense plays a significant role in shaping the outcome of games.

In contrast, the Cy Young Award places greater emphasis on a pitcher’s performance on the mound.

Factors such as ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, and other pitching-specific statistics take precedence in evaluating a pitcher’s excellence.

The award acknowledges that pitching is a specialized skill with a significant impact on the outcome of games.

These differences in criteria and voter perspectives give rise to varying interpretations of value in the context of the game.

It highlights the ongoing debate and discussions within the baseball community regarding the relative importance of offense and pitching in determining a player’s overall value and impact.

Ultimately, recognizing the divergent perspectives of voters between the MVP Award and the Cy Young Award enriches the discourse around baseball excellence, showcasing the different facets of the game and the nuanced appreciation for both offensive and pitching contributions.


The Cy Young Award embodies the pinnacle of pitching excellence in baseball, honoring those who exhibit unparalleled skill and dominance on the mound.

By understanding the key factors considered, the voting process, and the historical context, we gain insight into the selection of these remarkable pitchers.

As the game continues to evolve, so too does the Cy Young Award, ensuring its place as an enduring symbol of greatness in the world of baseball.