Sigh-Young Award

The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed their ninth season as a franchise. During the first eight from 1998 – 2005 the team had won an unprecedented four Cy Young awards. These four were won consecutively from 1999 – 2002 by Randy Johnson. You could make a strong case that if he had received better run support during the abysmal 2004 season that he would have won an additional Cy Young award. I’m not bitter, just extremely annoyed that wins play such an important part of the Cy Young balloting system. It is a bogus stat in my opinion since the pitcher rarely has control over how much run support they receive unless the baseball writers of America are awarding the Cy Young based upon a pitcher’s hitting prowess. If that is the case then there should be no Cy Young award winners in the American League. But I digress just a bit. My point is that in the brief history of the Diamondbacks, strong pitching has always been a part of the plan. With the departure of Randy Johnson to New York, everyone assumed that dominating pitching would depart with him. In the 2004 and 2005 seasons I would have had to agree. But this year was slightly different.

Before the spring training 2006, Javier Vazquez requested to be traded as was his right since he came to the Diamondbacks from the Yankees during a long term contract. The Diamondbacks granted Vazquez his wish and sent him to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Orlando Hernandez and Chris Young. This left a void at the top of the pitching rotation and the Diamondbacks turned to Brandon Webb to be their ace. While many players may falter when being christened with that title, Webb did quite the opposite. He stepped up his conditioning and began the season on a hot streak going undefeated in his first 13 starts accumulating a 8-0 record with a 2.14 ERA. Webb was clearly the best player on the Diamondbacks over the first half of the season and he was recognized for his efforts by being voted to his first All-Star team. And while Webb finally did lose a few games, he lost very little else. His sinkerball continually confounded hitters and delighted the fans. His year ended with a 16-8 record and a 3.10 ERA over 33 starts. He was among the league leaders in most major pitching categories making him a serious contender for the National League Cy Young award. So today’s announcement that he won did not come entirely as a shock. That he won the award by such a large margin did surprise a lot of people. Now for the first time in the Diamondbacks history a pitcher not named Randy Johnson has won a Cy Young Award. It also gives the Diamondbacks a 5 awards in 9 years for a .556 winning percentage which is better than the team was able to accomplish this year on the field. Congratulations to Brandon Webb, we look forward to watching many more years of him dominating National League hitters.

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