Bob Welch had the success, if not the stats, of Roger Clemens and Dave Stewart. On Tuesday, he got the Cy Young to go with it.
Welch was the American League's biggest winner in 22 seasons, going 27-6 for the Oakland Athletics. And wins are what usually win the award for the best pitcher.In a strange and split vote in which no one was named on all 28 ballots, Welch got 15 first-place votes and a total of 107 points. Clemens, with an earned-run average more than a full run better than Welch, was second with eight first-place votes and 77 points.
Stewart also had a better ERA than Welch, his teammate, and won 20 games for the fourth straight season, but again failed to win the Cy Young. He was third with three first-place votes and 43 points, followed by record-setting Chicago reliever Bobby Thigpen, who got the other two first-place votes and had 20 points.
"You'd like to have the other thing, the World Series championship, but this is a more personal thing," said Welch, who recently filed for free agency. "You just feel fortunate that people recognize you."
Two members of the Baseball Writers Association in each AL city voted, and balloting was completed before the start of the postseason, in which Oakland's bid for a second straight World Series title ended with a sweep by Cincinnati. The National League Cy Young winner will be announced Wednesday.
Before this season, Welch had been one of baseball's most consistent pitchers for 12 years, although he had never won more than 17 games. It didn't look like he would improve on that when, fighting the effects of the lockout, he went 0-3 with a 17.72 ERA in spring training.
Then, in Welch's first start of the season, he gave up a leadoff home run to Minnesota's Dan Gladden. But, bolstered by Oakland's outstanding defense, the Athletics' excellent relief corps and the benefits of playing at the spacious Coliseum, Welch went on to set a club record for victories as his team won the West championship. He helped himself by never losing two straight decisions.
"No doubt about it, with me it's all between the ears," Welch said. "It's all mental."
Welch's win total was the highest in the AL since Denny McLain won 31 in 1968. Not since Steve Carlton won 27 for Philadelphia in 1972 had a major leaguer won that many.
Welch did it with a 2.95 ERA while pitching just two complete games - both shutouts - in 35 starts. In 238 innings, he walked 77, struck out 127, gave up 26 home runs and 214 hits.
Clemens, meanwhile, went 21-6 with a 1.93 ERA at Boston's tiny Fenway Park - just the second Red Sox pitcher in 73 years with an ERA of under 2.00. He missed almost all of the final month with tendinitis, although he did complete seven games, including four shutouts, in 31 starts.
Clemens, a two-time Cy Young winner, pitched 228 1-3 innings and struck out 209, walked only 54, gave up just seven home runs and allowed 193 hits.
Stewart went 22-11 with a 2.56 ERA. He pitched 11 complete games, four for shutouts, in 36 starts. In 267 innings, he struck out 166, walked 83, gave up 16 homers and 226 hits.
Stewart finished third in the Cy Young voting in 1987 after going 20-13, was fourth in 1988 after being 21-12 and was runner-up last season after going 21-9.