It's hard enough to win one Cy Young Award. Only the great aces win more than one.
MLB's top pitching honor was established 66 years ago, on Feb. 4, 1956. Since then, just 21 pitchers have won multiple Cy Young Awards. And just 10 have won three or more.
These are the pitchers who have won the most Cy Young Awards.
Roger Clemens (7 Cy Young Awards)
Years won: AL 1986-87, 1991, '97-98, 2001; NL 2004
The Rocket is the Cy Young Award record-holder, with an incredible seven. Clemens won Cy Young Awards in both leagues, with four different teams: the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. Here are just a few fun facts about Clemens' Cy Young collection:
- When he won his first Cy Young Award in 1986 with the Red Sox, Clemens was also named the American League MVP, making him one of 11 pitchers to win both a Cy Young and MVP.
- Clemens won back-to-back Cy Young Awards twice, from 1986-87 with Boston and 1997-98 with Toronto.
- In both of his Cy Young seasons with the Blue Jays, Clemens won the Triple Crown, leading the AL in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He's one of four pitchers to win back-to-back Triple Crowns, along with Sandy Koufax, Lefty Grove and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
- Clemens' last Cy Young came in 2004, at age 41, 18 years after his first. It was his first in the National League, making Clemens one of six pitchers to win the Cy in both leagues, along with Max Scherzer, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry.
Randy Johnson (5)
Years won: AL 1995; NL 1999-2002
The Big Unit's five Cy Young Awards were highlighted by one of the most dominant runs in baseball history -- he won four straight NL Cy Young Awards with the D-backs, including during their World Series championship season in 2001. Johnson led MLB in strikeouts all four seasons … with over 300 K's in each of them and a career-high 372 in '01, the third-highest single-season total in the Modern Era behind Nolan Ryan's 383 in 1973 and Koufax's 382 in 1965. Johnson's first Cy Young Award came in the AL with the Mariners in 1995, when he went 18-2 with a league-leading 2.48 ERA and 294 strikeouts.
Greg Maddux (4)
Years won: NL 1992-95
Like Johnson, Maddux won four Cy Young Awards in a row, making them the only two pitchers in MLB history to do so. (Actually, they're the only pitchers to even win three straight, and the pitchers to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards is a short list, too.) The ace of the Braves dynasty of the '90s swept the NL award from 1992-95, leading Atlanta to a World Series title the last of those years. Maddux took the MLB ERA crown in each of his last three Cy Young seasons, including a 1.56 ERA in '94 and a 1.63 ERA in '95. Across those two seasons, a 53-start span, the Professor went 35-8 with a 1.60 ERA.
Steve Carlton (4)
Years won: NL 1972, '77, '80, '82
This Hall of Famer won all four of his Cy Young Awards in Philadelphia, and they were some remarkable seasons. Carlton led the NL in wins in each of his Cy Young years, led in strikeouts three times and led in ERA once. The first of those seasons was a Triple Crown: In 1972, Carlton's 27 wins, 1.97 ERA and 310 strikeouts were all a National League-best. And in 1980, he also led the Phillies to a World Series win, winning the clinching Game 6 to cap a 3-0, 2.30 ERA postseason. A great workhorse, Carlton led the NL in innings pitched in three of his four Cy Young seasons, including 346 1/3 innings in '72 and 304 innings in '80.
Max Scherzer (3)
Years won: AL 2013; NL 2016-17
The most recent pitcher to win a Cy Young in both leagues, and also a back-to-back award winner, Scherzer has fast-tracked himself toward the Hall of Fame over the last decade. Since winning his first Cy Young Award with the Tigers in 2013, Scherzer has accumulated a host of achievements, including two no-hitters, a 20-strikeout game and a 300-strikeout season. He also led the Nationals to their first World Series championship in 2019, joined the 3,000-strikeout club in '21 and more.
Clayton Kershaw (3)
Years won: NL 2011, '13-14
One of the defining aces of this generation along with Scherzer, Kershaw is on his way to Cooperstown, too. The Dodgers icon has produced some of the greatest pitching seasons in recent baseball history, including his Cy Young-MVP combo in 2014, when he went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts, and his Triple Crown 2011, when he led the NL with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA and 248 K's. Kershaw's three Cy Young seasons came during a run of four straight MLB ERA crowns from 2011-14, during which time he posted a 2.11 ERA over 126 starts. Like Scherzer, Kershaw has also thrown a no-hitter, posted a 300-strikeout season and led his club to a World Series win.
Pedro Martinez (3)
Years won: NL 1997; AL 1999-2000
Maybe the most dominant pitcher in baseball history at his peak, Pedro posted two of the greatest Cy Young seasons of all time when he won in back-to-back years for the Red Sox in 1999 and 2000. Pitching in the powerhouse AL East, in the heart of the strongest offensive era in MLB history, Martinez was untouchable. In '99, he won a Triple Crown, going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. The next year, he was just as unhittable, going 18-6 with a league-leading 1.74 ERA and 284 K's. Those are the seasons fans remember best, although Pedro's first Cy Young year with the Expos was great, too -- he had a Major League-best 1.90 ERA that year and racked up 305 K's.
Jim Palmer (3)
Years won: AL 1973, '75-76
The great Orioles ace already had led Baltimore to two World Series championships by the time he won his first Cy Young Award in 1973, and after he won his three awards, he led the O's to another title in '83. Palmer's Cy Young Awards included back-to-back honors from 1975-76, making him the second AL pitcher to win two straight after Denny McLain. Palmer won the AL ERA title in his first two Cy Young seasons, and he led the league in wins in the last two. His best season was probably 1975, when he went 23-11 with an MLB-best 2.09 ERA over 323 innings and also led the Majors with 10 shutouts.
Tom Seaver (3)
Years won: NL 1969, '73, '75
Seaver earned the nickname The Franchise as he led the Mets from lovable losers to miraculous World Series champions in 1969, then helped them win another National League pennant in '73. He won the Cy Young Award both of those seasons, then again in '75. Seaver led the league in wins in '69 and '75, led in ERA in '73 and led in strikeouts in '73 and '75. He was the first pitcher to win a league-specific Cy Young Award three times (the Cy Young was one MLB-wide award from 1956-66 and changed to its current AL/NL form in '67).
Sandy Koufax (3)
Years won: MLB 1963, '65-66
Koufax is the first three-time Cy Young Award winner. The Dodgers legend was named MLB's best pitcher in three of his final four seasons in the big leagues, which was one of the most memorable runs by any pitcher ever. Koufax won the pitching Triple Crown in all three of his Cy Young seasons -- and not just an NL Triple Crown, an MLB Triple Crown. Koufax led the Major Leagues in wins, ERA and strikeouts in 1963 (when he was also NL MVP), '65 and '66, with at least 25 wins and over 300 strikeouts in all three seasons and a combined ERA of 1.88. Koufax is one of three pitchers to win three Triple Crowns, along with fellow legends Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Pitchers with 2 Cy Young Awards
Jacob deGrom (NL 2018-19)
Justin Verlander (AL 2011, '19)
Corey Kluber (AL 2014, '17)
Roy Halladay (AL 2003, NL 2010)
Tim Lincecum (NL 2008-09)
Johan Santana (AL 2004, '06)
Tom Glavine (NL 1991, '98)
Bret Saberhagen (AL 1985, '89)
Gaylord Perry (AL 1972, NL 1978)
Bob Gibson (NL 1968, '70)
Denny McLain (AL 1968-69)