Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wang Runner up in Cy Young
Chien-Ming Wang's breakout season may have earned him the title of the Yankees' ace, but it wasn't enough to overcome Minnesota's Johan Santana in the American League Cy Young Award vote.
Santana captured his second career award with a stellar 2006, earning a unanimous selection. Wang placed second in the vote, followed by Toronto's Roy Halladay, Los Angeles' Francisco Rodriguez and Minnesota's Joe Nathan.
Santana led the AL in wins (19), ERA (2.77), strikeouts (245), innings pitched (233 2/3), opponents' batting average (.216) and WHIP (1.00). Santana also won the Cy Young in 2004.
Wang, who went 19-6, matched Santana for the league-lead in victories, but his 3.63 ERA and 1.31 WHIP were far behind the Twins' ace. Santana received all 28 first-place votes, while Wang received 15 second-place votes and six third-place votes, appearing on 21 of the 28 ballots.
"Wang certainly pitched well enough to be considered in most years," said Dom Amore of The Hartford Courant, who put Wang second on his ballot. "But Santana was the clear-cut No. 1 choice."
Wang is the second Yankees pitcher to finish second in Cy Young voting in the past two years, joining Mariano Rivera, who placed second to Bartolo Colon last fall.
Wang ranked among the league leaders in several categories, as his .760 winning percentage was third in the AL, his 218 innings pitched were fifth and his two complete games ranked sixth. Wang's 3.63 ERA was eighth in the league. The Yankees went 22-11 in Wang's 33 starts.
Sam Borden, who covered the Yankees for The Daily News in 2006, placed Wang second on his ballot between Santana and Roy Halladay.
"Without Santana in the league, I think Wang would have been a very legitimate candidate to win," Borden said. "He's definitely a different type of pitcher, but he was effective throughout the season. I don't think it's fair to penalize him having less strikeouts; he gets outs in his own way and he did it well for most of the year."
Although he averaged just over three strikeouts per nine innings, Wang made up for it by inducing 33 double plays this season, the second-highest total in the American League behind Jake Westbrook's 36.
Wang also got 483 ground balls against just 158 fly balls, a ratio of 3.06-to-1 -- tops in the league.
Amore, who voted Santana-Wang-Halladay as his top three, said that Wang's low strikeout totals should be overlooked because of the type of pitcher he is.
"Although his WHIP numbers will never be great, he doesn't give up a lot of home runs and gets a lot of double plays, so that erases a lot of the baserunners he puts on," Amore said. "If it takes three hits to score a run, you're a pretty effective pitcher.
Wang's breakout season was a pleasant surprise from the Yankees, who started the right-hander over Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Tigers.
"I don't think we could have ever dreamed that would be the case," manager Joe Torre said. "The big part of it is his personality and confidence in himself."
"He's been our savior," said catcher Jorge Posada before the postseason. "He's stayed consistent, he's stayed healthy, and for me, he's the Cy Young Award winner."
Posted by Steve Kenul at 3:08 PM