How has this club never won a Cy Young Award?

Breaking down the Rangers' pursuit of pitching's top honor

March 6th, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Corey Kluber has won two American League Cy Young Awards, and both Lance Lynn and Mike Minor received some attention from voters after last season.

So maybe this is the year.

Maybe this will be the year the Rangers shed the stigma of being the only AL team to have never had a Cy Young Award winner.

“Never have?” manager Chris Woodward said. “I did not know that. When you have three guys, well five guys, three specifically, the odds are more in our favor. Anytime you have more than one guy, two guys, those guys are going to push each other. Hopefully they are all contending. We had two contenders last year, it would be nice to have three or four.”

A new ballpark could help, although there is still some uncertainty whether Globe Life Field will favor hitters or pitchers. What is known is the Ballpark in Arlington favored hitters.

The heat didn’t help either, but general manager Jon Daniels said he never heard of potential free agents saying they weren’t going to sign in Texas because of the previous ballpark. Daniels said it wasn’t a factor in 2010 negotiations with Cliff Lee and again with Zack Greinke a few years later.

“They never said anything about it,” Daniels said.

A look at the Rangers' 48-year pursuit of a Cy Young Award winner:

Two close calls
Ferguson Jenkins had the greatest year ever by a Rangers pitcher in 1974, when he won 25 games with 328 innings pitched and 29 complete games. But A's ace Jim “Catfish” Hunter was also a 25-game winner and won the award. He had 12 of 24 first-place votes, while Jenkins received 10.

When the Rangers signed Japanese star Yu Darvish prior to the 2012 season, they were open in their belief that the right-hander would win a Cy Young Award while in Texas. The best Darvish could do was a distant second place to Max Scherzer in 2013.

Two got away
Gaylord Perry had two 15-win seasons for the Rangers, in 1976-77. He was also 39 years old and making big money, So the cash-strapped Rangers traded him to the Padres for reliever Dave Tomlin and $125,000. In '78 with San Diego, Perry won 21 games and his second Cy Young Award.

The Rangers were the ones who turned struggling right-hander R.A. Dickey into a knuckleball pitcher back in 2005. It just took seven years and four organizations before he won a Cy Young Award in 2012 with the Mets.

Then there was Nolan
The Cy Young Award proved elusive for Nolan Ryan as well. Six times he finished top five in the voting, but never in first place. His last Cy Young hurrah was 1989, his first season with the Rangers. Ryan, at age 42, went 16-11 with a 3.20 ERA and 301 strikeouts. He also created a national sensation by recording his 5,000th career strikeout. But this Cy Young Award went to the Royals' Bret Saberhagen.

No on Zito
The Rangers selected Barry Zito in the third round of the 1998 MLB Draft out of junior college. Zito’s dad asked for $350,000, while the Rangers offered $250,000. They later went up to $287,500 but said that was their final offer. It was rejected. Zito’s father said the asking price would go up to $500,000 if Zito didn’t sign by the beginning of the Cape Cod League and then to $750,000 once it was over. The Rangers did not sign Zito. He was drafted by the Athletics the following year and won a Cy Young with Oakland in 2003.

The Hall of Famers
Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson won 12 Cy Young Awards between them. None were with the Rangers, but not for lack of effort.

President George W. Bush, when he was managing partner in 1989-94, was obsessed with trading for Clemens. Red Sox-Rangers rumors were always popping up but most were bogus. The Rangers could have pursued Clemens after the 1996 season, but he was perceived to be on the downside of his career. The Rangers signed reliever John Wetteland instead.

Clemens signed with the Blue Jays and won two Cy Young Awards with them in 1998-99. After that, the rebuilding Blue Jays let clubs know Clemens was available for trade. Rangers owner Tom Hicks wanted him badly, but the Yankees ended up making the trade in Spring Training. Hicks never forgave general manager Doug Melvin for letting Clemens get away.

Earlier that same offseason, the Rangers made a vigorous push to sign free agent Johnson. Hicks even flew the Big Unit and his family to Texas on his private jet. Johnson’s first question was about how many times he would be able to use that jet during the season. Johnson was living in Phoenix at the time and ended up signing with the D-backs. To this day, the Rangers believe they were used as a pawn to drive up the bidding.

Hershiser slips away
The Rangers traded All-Star catcher Jim Sundberg to the Dodgers in December 1982 for a four-player package that included future Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser. But the trade fell through when the Dodgers couldn’t get Sundberg to waive a no-trade clause and the right to demand a trade after the '83 season. Rangers manager Doug Rader never forgave Sundberg for letting the deal fall through.

Doc Halladay
The Rangers didn’t have much luck trying to get 2003 American League Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays. The Rangers tried hard to get him from Toronto during the '09 season. But Halladay had a no-trade clause in his contract and didn’t want to go to Texas. He was traded to the Phillies in the offseason and won the National League Cy Young Award in '10.

The 2006 MLB Draft
The Rangers had the 12th overall pick in a Draft rich with pitching. The Dodgers took Clayton Kershaw at No. 7. The Rangers wanted Tim Lincecum, but the Giants took him at No. 10. Max Scherzer went to the D-backs at No. 11. The Rangers spent pick No. 12 on left-hander Kasey Kiker, who never got higher than Double-A.