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Who won the 2022 American League Cy Young Award?

Justin Verlander is unanimously voted the American League’s Cy Young Award winner for the third time in his illustrious career

Justin Verlander is unanimously voted the American League’s Cy Young Award winner for the third time in his illustrious career
Carmen MandatoAFP

Justin Verlander is one of the great ones. The Detroit Tigers thought that they had gotten the best out of him back in 2017 when they traded him to the Astros.

Not quite, as it turns out.

The nine-time All-Star ace, and future Hall of Fame tap-in, just completed a come-back season to top them all, leading the league in wins (18), ERA (1.75), and WHIP (0.83) on the road to winning his second World Series and third Cy Young Award.

And all of this in his 39th year, having just come back off of Tommy John surgery. And the version of Verlander that came back off the IR was an improved version. Old arms are supposed to get worse, not better.

His 2022 season was sizzling from the start and there was no drop-off, no winding down. At no point in the season could we say, “Well, old arms get tired in October.” Not with Verlander. In Game 1 of the ALCS, Verlander struck out eleven Yankees over six innings, including an MLB record-tying six in a row. The record he tied? His own from a decade ago.

“I think you appreciate everything more at the back third or quarter of your career,” says the legendary Verlander. “When you’re young and things just go your way, you don’t understand what it takes to make things go your way. All of a sudden, things go in the opposite direction. That happened to me a couple times in my career, and it makes you appreciate things more, because you know how much hard work goes on to get to this point.”

When it came time for the Baseball Writers Association of America to vote, it was unanimous. Nobody else came close.

This was another record-tying event. With his National League counterpart Sandy Alcantara winning unanimously as well, this marked just the second time in history that both winners were unanimous. The only other was in 1968 when Denny McLain and Bob Gibson swept the board.

I will always kind of remember this Cy Young as looking back at the growth of me as a father and as a person and just also the rehab and all the hard work that went into the rehab, and just how much I was committed to, ‘It was going to go well, and I was going to come back and be me.’”

Justin Verlander is somehow different. He is approaching his fourth decade and still competing at the highest level. And not just competing, but dominating. All of us who have played the game have had, at some point, to confront the end of the road, when the game is finished with us. Few have remained in the Show as long as he has, and fewer still can be the dominant force that he is at this point in his career, no matter what age we are.

So just how long can he continue? Phil Neikro, Nolan Ryan, and Randy Johnson pitched into the latter half of their forties, but they were a shadow of their former selves by that point. Bartolo Colon, Roger Clemens, and Gaylord Perry all made it to 45, but by the end were just clinging on to the MLB bullpen. Verlander still has several years in front of him, to be sure, but his performance in 2022 says that he may not be content to simply clutch at a spot in the roster. The years in front of him would look to be productive, competitive years.

“I’m not a negative person, so I don’t want to sit here and say maybe I won’t be back because it’s been a wonderful ride and I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I’m not gonna sit here and pretend to know,” says Verlander.

The Houston Astros have made it plain that they are aware that Verlander is in search of a multi-year, high-value contract, a revelation that may have gotten them in trouble with the MLBPA, but shows the kind of interest that there is in Verlander. The Mets and the Dodgers are reportedly salivating at the thought of adding him to their rotations.

And to be quite frank, who can blame them? Justin Verlander is one of a kind.


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