Boston Red Sox Cy Young Award winners before it existed
By Rick McNair
Back-to-back for the original
The first season of the American League was also the first season of the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox of 1901 finished second in the American League, but they had one of the great pitching performances in baseball history thanks to a 34-year old right-hander named Cy Young.
Young won the triple crown of pitching by leading the league in wins with 33, strikeouts with 158 and an earned run average that checked in at 1.62. Young also had a remarkable 0.972 WHIP and a BB/9 of 0.9 – both led the league. Young also had a league leading rWAR of 12.5 if you wish to use that statistic. This type of performance was far above all others and the award may have been unanimous.
A case can certainly be made for Young going back-to-back with the award in 1902. Young led in wins with 32, complete games at 41 and innings pitched with 384.1. Young’s rWAR was a league best 10.2 and Young also chipped in with a .230 batting average.
The closest competitor to Young would be the enigmatic left-hand flame thrower, Rube Waddell. Rube went 24-7, posted a 2.05 ERA and led the league in strikeouts. However, Waddell tossed “only” 276.1 innings while edging Young in winning percentage .774 to .744. In the early days, a winning percentage was often considered more important than wins.
In 1902 the ballot would have been closer than 1901, but the result would have been the same – another award for Young.