Cliff Lee easily won the American League Cy Young Award on Thursday, capping a dominant comeback season that made him the second consecutive Cleveland Indians pitcher to earn the honor.
Demoted to the minors last year, Lee went a Major League Baseball-best 22-3 this season with a 2.54 ERA. He received 24 of 28 first-place votes and 132 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“It feels a lot better than it felt in ’07,” Lee said on a conference call from his Arkansas home. “I want to win this Cy Young again. I want to make a habit of it.”
Toronto ace Roy Halladay was a distant runner-up with four first-place votes and 71 points. Record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels finished third with 32 points.
Lee became the third Cleveland pitcher to win the Cy Young, following Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1972 and CC Sabathia last year.
Trudging through a disappointing season and cognizant of budget constraints, the injury-depleted Indians traded Sabathia to Milwaukee on July 7. He is expected to fetch a huge contract this offseason after filing for free agency.
The 30-year-old Lee led the AL in ERA and ranked second in innings (223 1-3) and complete games (four). Halladay, the 2003 AL Cy Young winner, topped those two categories with 246 innings and nine complete games. He also was 20-11 with a 2.78 ERA, second in the league. He piled up 206 strikeouts to Lee’s 170.
Lee received a US$250,000 bonus for winning, and the price of Cleveland’s 2010 club option increased from US$8 million to US$9 million. Halladay got US$200,000.
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