Looking past a won-lost record that wasn't nearly as good as Houston left-hander Mike Hampton's, baseball writers made Arizona's Randy Johnson only the second pitcher to win a Cy Young Award in each league, giving him a large victory today in voting for the National League prize.
"I'd like to think this award isn't solely based on wins and losses," said Johnson, who was 17-9 with a 2.48 earned run average. "There was a lot more to the season I had than wins and losses. Quite honestly, I feel this was the best year I had in my career."
He received 20 first-place votes, 11 seconds and 1 third for 134 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Hampton, who went 22-4 and led the NL in wins, was second with 11 first-place votes, 17 seconds and 4 thirds for 110 points. Atlanta's Kevin Millwood was third with 1 first, 4 seconds and 19 thirds for 36 points.
"I don't think the voters could have gone wrong picking either of the three," Johnson said.
Looking past his record, Johnson was dominating.
The 6-foot-10 left-hander led the major leagues with 12 complete games and 364 strikeouts in 271 2/3 innings.
He was 19 short of the strikeout record set by Nolan Ryan in 1973, winding up with the fourth-highest single-season total. Johnson also struck out 10 or more 23 times, matching the record Ryan set with the California Angels in 1973.
"The one thing that was the least in his control was the wins and losses," Diamondbacks Manager Buck Showalter said. "Scoring runs and catching the baseball, that's the thing he couldn't control. Thank goodness people realized that."
Arizona scored just 11 runs in his nine losses, and he left four games with leads the bullpen failed to hold.
Johnson had a stretch of four starts, from June 25 to July 10, in which his team was shut out each time. He allowed just six runs during that stretch, but Arizona got only six hits--the Diamondbacks were no-hit by the Cardinals' Jose Jimenez, one-hit by Cincinnati, two-hit by St. Louis and three-hit by Oakland.
"I didn't dwell on it," Johnson said. "I never complained about anything because I realized it was part of the game and sometimes whatever goes around comes around."
Johnson, 36, had a 1.41 ERA in those four games, but his record dropped from 9-3 to 9-7.
"Sometimes I've pitched extremely well and the opposing pitcher has pitched that much better," Johnson said.
Johnson joined Gaylord Perry as the only pitchers to win the award in each league. Johnson also won with Seattle in 1995; Perry won with Cleveland in 1972 and with San Diego in 1978.