Kansas City Royals Zack Grienke Wins American League Cy Young Award
Zack Greinke is the definition of a Diamond Stud and he proved it again by winning the American League Cy Young Award and he did it in a landslide.
The Royals’ right-hander received a rousing 25 of 28 first-place votes and had 134 total points in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting. Runner-up Felix Hernandez of the Mariners had 80 points, with two first-place votes.
Greinke emerged from the shadow of a social anxiety disorder that took him away from the game for two months in 2006. He worked his way back to the Royals with a tour in the Minors that year and spent most of 2007 laboring in the KC bullpen. Back full force in 2008, he made 32 starts with a 13-10, 3.47 season that set the stage for this thunderous year.
But the 2009 season on the mound belong to Greinke, who posted a 16-8 record which was modest total for a Cy Young winner but no one could match his Major League-best ERA of 2.16. He was one of the most dominating pitchers of 2009 in either league especially being on a team that hardly backed him with run support and a bullpen that blew four of his leads.
Greinke becomes the third Cy Young winner in club history. Bret Saberhagen won in 1985 and 1989; David Cone won in 1994. Cone was the only other starter to win the AL award with as few as 16 wins, and he did it in a strike-shortened season. Brandon Webb (2006) was the last starter to win the National League award with so few.
Among other accomplishments, Greinke struck out 15 batters and threw a one-hitter in back-to-back outings in August as he headed toward a strong finish. He was 6-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his final 11 starts.
Greinke’s has three devastating pitches in a changeup (which was the best in 2009), a sizzling fastball and killer slider. Greinke’s 242 strikeouts, second in the AL to Jason Verlander’s 269, included the club-record 15 on Aug. 25 against the Indians. Then, in his next start at Seattle, came a one-hitter flawed only by a second-inning single. Greinke mowed down the last 22 Mariners he faced. That made him just the fourth pitcher in history to follow a 15-strikeout game with a one-hitter, matching Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (1998) and Vida Blue (1971).
His ability to command his pitches, moving the ball in and out, up and down with pinpoint accuracy, and to vary his speeds is phenomenal.