The two Cy Young winners in 2021 have a lot in common.
Both are pitchers who struggled as recently as two years ago, but who have rebounded to post career-best seasons. Both pitchers racked up gaudy strikeout totals and pitched to sub-3.00 ERAs.
Where the two differed is how the voting played out for the pair to win the awards. Robbie Ray, Blue Jays ace and AL winner, was a near-unanimous winner, claiming 29 of the 30 first-place votes. Brewers ace and NL winner Corbin Burnes, however, was locked in a much closer battle for his award. He received the same number of first-place votes as Phillies’ hurler Zack Wheeler, and only won because down-ballot votes helped push him over the edge.
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How did the final vote tallies shake out? Sporting News breaks it down.
NL Cy Young voting results
The Cy Young is decided based on the results of 30 writers from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The National League has two writers from each chapter of the BBWAA — 15 chapters, one for each NL team. Each writer submits an individual ballot, writing down five names in order of merit for the award.
This year, Burnes and Wheeler tied with 12 first-place votes each. However, it is not about how many first-place votes a pitcher receives, though they do weigh the heaviest. It is a point system that picks out the winner.
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Here’s how that played out for the top three pitchers in the NL this season.
While Burnes and Wheeler received the same number of first-place votes, Burnes received more second-place votes (14 to nine), and Wheeler saw more of his votes come in toward the back of the ballot. He was the only one of the three NL Cy Young finalists to receive a fifth-place vote.
This was just the second time ever that the top two finalists in the NL Cy Young tied in first-place votes. Back in 1981, the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela and the Reds’ Tom Seaver tied with eight first-place votes each, with Valenzuela coming out narrowly on top with 70 vote points to Seaver’s 67.
Here’s the full voting breakdown of the 2021 NL votes.
AL Cy Young voting results
There wasn’t the same level of drama in the AL as there was in the NL. Ray received all but one of the first-place AL Cy Young votes, and Yankees starter Gerrit Cole received all but one second-place vote.
In the end, here’s how the voting shook out in the junior circuit.
Yeah, not particularly close.
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Ray was just that one vote shy of becoming only the eighth AL pitcher to win the award in unanimous fashion. Here’s a look at the others who have achieved the feat.
|Roger Clemens||1986, 1998|
|Pedro Martinez||1999, 2000|
|Johan Santana||2004, 2006|
Here’s the full voting breakdown of the 2021 AL votes.