For the first time since 1968, the American League and National Cy Young Awards winners were unanimous.
The 27-year-old Alcantara has scored 228 2/3 innings pitched in MLB — the highest total for any pitcher since Verlander’s 223 in 2019 and the highest in the NL since Clayton Kershaw’s 232 2/3 in 2015. Alcantara’s six complete games were the most in MLB In six years, more than any other country Team in MLB thrown in 2022.
Alcantara’s anomaly for a season saw him make eight or more innings in 14 of his 32 starts and muster 23 2/3 more than his closest competitor (Aaron Nola-Philez). But there was quality to quantity. His ERA (2.28), projected ERA (2.92), strikeouts (207), and quality starts (24) were all in the top five in the NL.
Interestingly, Alcantara has stepped up his arsenal in the late innings, giving him an ace presence and bullpen anchor, all in one. His 98.6 mph strikeout in the eighth inning or later was the eighth highest average speed in MLB in those innings, his 98.6 mph sinker was tied for fourth highest, his 90.5 mph slider was sixth highest and his 92.5 mph changeup was the highest. .
A native of the Dominican Republic, Alcantara’s strong record with the Marlins (3.48 ERA and 122 ERA+ in 78 starts in 2018-21) has only attracted limited national interest before 2022. But the youngster who’s earned his old-school acceptance has passed on the responsibility of playing deep in the games. His performance took it to another level in 2022, and now he’s a household name.
With an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, Verlander — winner of the honor in 2011 with the Tigers and 2019 with the Astros — entered 2022 having pitched just six innings since that win in 19. He’s now the first pitcher ever to win a Cy Young after Not achieving any rounds in the previous year. The previous low was Fernando Valenzuela’s 17 2/3 rounds in 1980 before he won the Cy while still a rookie qualifier in 1981.
Only 10 others have won this award three times:
Roger Clemens: 7
Randy Johnson: 5
Steve Carlton: 4
Greg Maddox: 4
Clayton Kershaw: 3
Sandy Kovacs: 3
Pedro Martinez: 3
Jim Palmer: 3
Max Scherzer: 3
Tom Seaver: 3
Verlander also became the fifth oldest pitcher to win a Cy Young Award (by age on the last day of the regular season):
2004 Clemens: 42 years, 60 days
1978 Gaylord Perry: 40 years, 17 days
1959 Early Wayne: 39 years, 267 days
2001 Clemens: 39 years, 64 days
2022 Verlander: 39 years, 227 days
Age has proven nothing but Verlander’s record, who has an AL-best 18 victories and 1.75 ERA, WHIP (0.83), OPS for opponents (. 497) and opponent batting average (. 186). His ERA was the lowest by an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 mark in 2000, Verlander’s 220 ERA was a career best, and he topped Cy Young’s season/MVP with the Tigers in 2011 (172).
No pitcher his age or older has returned from Tommy John to be a player he can count on, let alone award-winning Cy Young. Verlander’s patience with the rehab process has paid off in a big way and will pay him more in his second round of free agency in as many years. Verlander is the tenth pitcher to win a Cy Young title heading into free agency, with five of the nine former (including last year’s AL winner, Robbie Ray). Dodgers, Yankees and Mets are among Verlander’s rumored suitors.