Cliff Lee has been named the American League Cy Young award winner for 2008. Lee was without doubt the strongest pitcher in the senior circuit this season and he did it on a team that was not particularly competitive when he wasn’t on the hill; similar to his NL Cy Young counterpart Tim Lincecum.
Lee received 24 of 28 first-place votes. (Roy) Halladay received four first-place votes and 71 points. Two BBWAA members in every AL city voted for the top three pitchers in the league.
Lee started the season fast and never slowed. He was 6-0 after seven starts with a 0.67 ERA. In the past 60 years only two pitchers have had a lower ERA after their first seven starts — Oakland’s Mike Norris at 0.45 in 1980 and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela at 0.29 in 1981.
Lee won 11 straight decisions from July 11 through Sept. 12. It was the longest winning streak by an Indian since Perry won 15 straight in 1974. On Sept. 1, Lee became the first Indians pitcher since Perry to win 20 games, beating Chicago on a five-hit shutout at Progressive Field.
Cliff Lee proving that he is a lefty horse like this makes watching CC Sabathia get out of town sting just a little bit less. The Indians will depend heavily on Lee if this decade’s version of the feathered warriors are ever going to make good on the promise to win a pennant.
We have to admit, we doubted Lee. We didn’t think he’d hold up all season long. We thought eventually the old Cliff Lee would come back and get pounded–making him an afterthought by the All-Star break. Lee made like a character from Major League and told us to shove it. He was by far the best pitcher in his league this year to any fan without blind eye.