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Verlander 2nd for Cy a record-tying third time

Rays' Snell picks up award with four more first-place votes
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Despite having one of the best seasons of his tremendous career, Astros right-hander Justin Verlander was again denied his second Cy Young Award.

Verlander finished second in the AL Cy Young race for a record-tying third time, with Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell winning his first. Verlander, who won the award during his MVP season with Detroit in 2011, became the fourth pitcher to finish second in the balloting three times. He was also the runner-up in the AL in 2012 and '16.

HOUSTON -- Despite having one of the best seasons of his tremendous career, Astros right-hander Justin Verlander was again denied his second Cy Young Award.

Verlander finished second in the AL Cy Young race for a record-tying third time, with Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell winning his first. Verlander, who won the award during his MVP season with Detroit in 2011, became the fourth pitcher to finish second in the balloting three times. He was also the runner-up in the AL in 2012 and '16.

:: AL Cy Young Award voting totals ::

This year's vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America was close, though. Snell finished with 17 first-place votes, 11 second-place votes and two third-place votes for a total of 169 points. Verlander had 13 first-place votes, 13 second-place votes, three third-place votes and one fourth-place vote, finishing with 154 points. Corey Kluber of the Indians was third (71 points), Chris Sale of the Red Sox was fourth (59) and Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole was fifth (26).

Verlander, 35, had one of the best seasons of his career, going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and a career-high 290 strikeouts in 214 innings -- one behind AL leader Kluber (215). Verlander led the Majors with a 0.90 WHIP, which is the third-lowest for an AL starter in the last 50 seasons (minimum 175 innings).

Following his final start of the regular season in September, Verlander said his workload should weigh heavily into the voting of the writers. He finished with 33 1/3 more innings than Snell, whose 180 2/3 innings were the fewest for a Cy Young Award-winning starting pitcher in a full season.

"I think it's an interesting vote," Verlander said. "I think this is a vote that's going to change the possible landscape of how the Cy Young voting goes. I think if you're going to take a bigger look at guys like Sale and Snell, you need to take a harder look at some relievers. If you're going to minimize innings and vote for the spectacular numbers, that brings in a whole other genre of guys that should be looked at for Cy Young."

Video: Rays pitcher Snell wins the 2018 AL Cy Young Award

Verlander's candidacy was as much about quality as quantity. He led AL pitchers in WAR (6.8), strikeouts, opponents' on-base percentage (.242) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.84). He had a 2.14 ERA on the road, which led the Majors. He ranked second in the AL in strikeouts per nine innings (12.2) and fewest walks per nine innings (1.6). He also ranked third in ERA and opponents' batting average (.200) and fourth in opponents' OPS (.602).

When the Astros were chasing the AL West title into the end of September, Verlander was at his best. He went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 33 innings in September, posting at least 10 strikeouts in each of his final four starts. His 290 strikeouts are the fourth-most in Astros history, and he struck out at least 10 batters in a game 13 times, which led the AL.

"I've always valued 200 innings and grinding for it," Verlander said in September. "It's not easy to get there, especially in the landscape of the game today. Back in the day, seven, eight years ago, I was throwing 240, 250 innings. Now you don't see anybody doing that. Crossing the 200 threshold is more and more special."

AL Cy Young Award past winners

The other three-time runners-up were Warren Spahn, the 1957 NL winner who finished second in '58, '60 and '61; Randy Johnson, a five-time winner (1995 in the AL and 1999-2002 in the NL) who finished second in the AL in 1993 and '97 and in the NL in 2004; and Curt Schilling, who never won the award but was the runner-up in the NL in 2001 and '02 and in the AL in '04.

Ballots, submitted prior to postseason play, were cast by two writers in each league city. They are tabulated on a system that awards seven points for first place, four points for second place, three points for third place, two votes for fourth place and one point for fifth place.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Justin Verlander