BOSTON -- The American League Cy Young Award proved to be elusive for Red Sox ace Chris Sale once again on Wednesday, as the dominant lefty finished second to Indians right-hander Corey Kluber.The 28-year-old Sale is in the middle of his prime and has an overpowering fastball, nasty slider and
BOSTON -- The American League Cy Young Award proved to be elusive for Red Sox ace Chris Sale once again on Wednesday, as the dominant lefty finished second to Indians right-hander Corey Kluber.
The 28-year-old Sale is in the middle of his prime and has an overpowering fastball, nasty slider and fierce competitiveness that could lead him to his first Cy Young as early as next season.
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This was the fifth straight year Sale finished in the top five and the first time he finished as high as second place. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 2017 and led the Major Leagues in strikeouts (308) and innings (214 1/3).
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Kluber received 28 of the 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Sale got the other two first-place votes and finished second on 28 ballots. Yankees right-hander Luis Severino placed third.
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This is the second Cy Young Award for Kluber, who was magnificent for the Indians, going 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA.
If not for a late-season slump, Sale might have won the award. In his first 24 starts of the season through Aug. 13, Sale was 14-4 with a 2.51 ERA. In his final eight starts after that, he went 3-4 with a 4.30 ERA and allowed 11 homers.
When it came to the strikeout, Sale set himself apart in 2017 with 308. Kluber was second in the AL with 265. The only pitcher in baseball to come within 40 K's of Sale was National League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who had 268 punchouts.
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To put into perspective how hard it is to strike out 300 batters in a season, consider that it's only been done 35 times since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The only pitchers in Red Sox history to have 300 strikeouts in a season are Sale and Pedro Martinez. Sale finished five K's behind the 313 Martinez racked up for the club record in 1999.
There were numerous occasions when Sale was all but untouchable. In 10 of Sale's 32 starts, he did not allow a run, joining Babe Ruth and Martinez as the only pitchers in Red Sox history to have that many scoreless outings in a season.
Fenway Park always buzzed with excitement during Sale's starts, and he led the Majors with 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings, the third-best K/9 rate among starting pitchers in MLB history behind Randy Johnson's 13.4 in 2001 and Martinez's 13.2 in '99.
One thing that was key for Boston was that Sale didn't have to sacrifice control for his power. His impressive 7.16 K/BB ratio was second in MLB to Kluber (7.36).
Not only was Sale nasty, but he was durable, making all 32 of his starts.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.