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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Gerrit Cole, Cy Young and Yankees History

by Paul Semendinger

September 21, 2023



Tonight will be Gerrit Cole's penultimate start of the 2023 season. He is currently the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award.

Cole ranks first in the A.L. in : Pitching WAR, ERA, Innings Pitched, and Games Started.

He is second in Win/Loss Percentage and Hits Per Nine Innings.

He is third in strikeouts.

No other pitcher shows up at the top of so many pitching categories. Since the season is just about 95% over, it is reasonable to say that Gerrit Cole has done enough, already, to earn the award. Let's hope for a great start tonight so he can end any debate and wrap this award up. He deserves it.

Gerrit Cole's pitching has been one of the very few bright spots on the 2023 Yankees.


Over their long history, the Yankees have had five pitchers win the Cy Young Award.

These have been:


  • 21-7, 2.97

  • Led the league in wins, winning percentage, and complete games

  • Came in second (to former Yankee Jackie Jensen) in the MVP voting


  • 25-4, 3.21

  • Led the league in wins, winning percentage, starts, and innings

  • Came in fifth in the MVP voting . Roger Maris won the award. The Yankees had five players in the top-10 in MVP voting that year: Maris (1), Mickey Mantle (2), Ford (5), Luis Arroyo (6), and Elston Howard (10).


  • 13-5, 2.17 (26 saves)

  • Led the league in games and games finished.

  • Came in sixth in the MVP voting. Rod Carew won the award. Graig Nettles was fifth.


  • 25-3, 1.74

  • Led the league in wins, winning percentage, ERA, and shutouts

  • Came in second (to Jim Rice) in the MVP voting


  • 20-3, 3.51

  • Led the league in winning percentage.

  • Came in eighth in MVP voting. Ichiro Suzuki won the award.


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Sep 21, 2023

45 years later that 1978 MVP Award still rankles me. At the time, my analysis was simple: Without either Guidry or Rice, the Yankees and Red Sox would not have won the Division. Except Boston had Rice and still didn't win. By definition, Guidry was "more valuable" that Rice.

Time and new stats reinforce that conclusion: Rice had 7.6 WAR, best among position players. Guidry had 9.6 WAR, best among pitchers, and two whole wins better than Rice. You sub in replacement-level players, and the Yankees finish a game behind Boston instead of a game in front. (Though without both, Milwaukee wins the East by a game over Boston.)

Or how about looking at that playoff game. Guidry wasn't grea…

Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Sep 22, 2023
Replying to

BUT... we didn't have WAR back then.

To me it was "great NY pitcher, but Boston hitter won the award" (1978) but "great NY hitter, but Bostonpitcher won the award (1986)"


Sep 21, 2023

I imagine he'll win the Cy this year and depending on moves Yankees do or don't make he might opt out after next year and I don't see him wanting to stay with Yankees if they don't make significant changes this winter. His future on West Coast in the National League is highly likely!

Sep 22, 2023
Replying to

Unfortunately not a standard opt out...if he opts out Yanks have option to extend him 1 more yr to end of contract at current rate. He's stuck with Yankees either way seems likely.

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