'One of the absolute best': Cole wins 1st Cy Young in unanimous fashion

November 16th, 2023

NEW YORK -- stood out as one of the brightest performers in an otherwise underwhelming Yankees season, delivering a chance for victory each time he took the ball. As his stellar campaign concluded, the ace right-hander never lifted his focus from that mission.

Cole was rewarded on Wednesday with his first American League Cy Young Award, becoming the first Yankee to claim the prize since Roger Clemens in 2001. Cole won the award unanimously, beating out fellow AL finalists Kevin Gausman (Blue Jays) and Sonny Gray (Twins).

“I’m very proud of this season,” Cole said. “I’m very proud of some of the other seasons where I made a pretty strong run at this award as well. There was a lot of momentum going into this.”

Cole is the sixth Yankee to win a Cy Young Award, joining Bob Turley (1958), Whitey Ford (1961), Sparky Lyle (1977), Ron Guidry (1978) and Clemens (2001).

“We’ve had great pitchers in and out of this place, leaders on and off the field,” Cole said. “Those are people who set a really high example and a really high bar of what it means to be a great Yankee. That served as an inspiration to me as a kid, and now, I’m living out my dream.”

The 33-year-old Cole went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 33 starts; his ERA was the lowest in the AL and the second-lowest in the Majors, trailing only the Padres’ Blake Snell (2.25), who took home the NL Cy Young Award.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Cole’s 2023 performance cements his place as “one of the absolute best of his generation.”

“What makes Gerrit so great is how dedicated he is to being the best version of himself he can be,” Cashman said. “He’s meticulous in scouting opponents and evaluating his performances, while continually immersing himself in new ideas to make himself even better. He’s a pitcher’s pitcher, and we are lucky to have him leading our rotation and leading by example in our clubhouse.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the hardware is “richly deserved” for Cole, who had two previous second-place finishes in AL Cy Young voting: in 2019 with the Astros, when he finished behind teammate Justin Verlander, and in 2021 with the Yankees, when he trailed Robbie Ray. Cole also had three other top-5 finishes (2015, ’18 and ’20).

“I couldn't be happier for him,” Boone said. “It's not lost on me how fortunate I am to manage such a talented and driven player. Having the opportunity to witness Gerrit's dedication to his craft, to the game and to his team has been a privilege. He pours so much into this. To see him finally awarded with this honor after years of coming close is incredibly exciting for all of us who share the clubhouse with him.”

Though 2023 marked Cole’s fourth season with the Yankees, he believes that he benefited from a more predictable environment, coming off campaigns impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a player lockout.

“Over the course of my career, I just attribute it to constantly trying to get better and constantly trying to make adjustments,” Cole said.

Among several impressive leaderboard categories, Cole paced the Majors in WHIP (0.98) and opponents’ on-base percentage (.259), tied for the lead in quality starts (24, first in AL) and shutouts (two).

Cole permitted two runs or fewer in 26 of his 33 starts this season, the most in the Majors. That also tied Guidry (26 in 1978) for the second-most by a Yankee in a single season. Only Jack Chesbro (28 in 1904) had more such outings. Cole’s 2.63 ERA was the lowest by a qualified Yankee since Rudy May (2.46) in 1980.

Ever the perfectionist, Cole said that he is already hard at work looking for ways to improve his game in ’24, mentioning the command of his offspeed pitch as one area of focus.

“I definitely feel like I’m contributing to the overall brand of what we do in New York,” Cole said.