Verlander joins list of oldest Cy Young winners

November 17th, 2022

Winning a Cy Young Award at any age or stage in one’s career is, of course, always a monumental achievement. Being among the oldest pitchers to be honored for such prowess? That’s even more impressive.

Here’s a look at the six oldest Cy Young Award winners, by age on the last day of the season.

2004 Roger Clemens (HOU): 42 years, 60 days old

Clemens’ final of his record seven Cy Young Awards came in the ‘04 season, when he turned 42 in August. He received 23 of 32 first-place votes, with a 41-year-old Randy Johnson finishing in second – so the record for oldest would’ve been set either way. Clemens went 18-4, with that .818 winning percentage leading the Majors and likely factoring into the voting results. He struck out 218 batters for his 12th 200-strikeout season of his career, third-most all-time behind Nolan Ryan (15) and Johnson (13).

1978 Gaylord Perry (SD): 40 years, 17 days old

Perry won two Cy Young Awards in his career, each in his first season with a team. In 1972, it was his first season with Cleveland following an offseason trade. In ‘78, he was in his first year with the Padres, also following another offseason trade. Perry had a 2.73 ERA along with 21 wins, with the latter leading the NL. He received 22 of 24 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Burt Hooton in second.

1959 Early Wynn (CHW): 39 years, 267 days old

Wynn’s was just the fourth Cy Young ever awarded, in the days when there was one for both leagues. Wynn led the AL with 255 2/3 innings and 37 starts. He faced a whopping 1,076 batters, which, of course, also led the AL. His 22 wins led the Majors. He received 13 of 16 votes, finishing ahead of the Giants’ Sam Jones in second.

2022 Justin Verlander (HOU): 39 years, 227 days old

Verlander did not pitch in 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, becoming the first pitcher to win a Cy Young after throwing zero MLB innings the year prior. And he became the fourth-oldest, too. Verlander led all qualified starters with a 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 220 strikeouts. Verlander was the second-oldest pitcher to lead MLB in ERA, behind only Clemens in 2005.

2001 Roger Clemens (NYY): 39 years, 64 days old

When you win seven Cy Young Awards, it stands to reason you’d appear on this list twice. This was Clemens’ sixth of seven. He led the Majors with an .870 winning percentage, going 20-3. He struck out 213 batters and compiled a 3.51 ERA. Clemens received 21 of 28 first-place votes, winning over Oakland’s Mark Mulder in second place.

2002 Randy Johnson (ARI): 39 years, 19 days old

This was the Big Unit’s fourth of four Cy Young Awards in a row. He won unanimously, and here’s why: He led MLB with 334 strikeouts, eight complete games, 260 innings and 24 wins. It was his fourth straight year leading everyone in strikeouts – and 334 was actually his lowest total of the four. His 2.32 ERA led the NL.