Boston Red Sox Cy Young Award winners before it existed
By Rick McNair
The 1930s – a Lefty comes to Boston
Lefty Grove arrived via a “trade” that consisted mostly of money. That was for the 1934 season and it was a 100% disaster for Grove. Grove finished the season at 8-8 with an ailing arm the main culprit. So when 1935 season opens it may spell the end for Grove. It didn’t.
Grove went 20-12 (.625) and led the American League in earned run average with 2.70 and WHIP at 1.223. Grove led the league in ERA nine times in his career and four times with Boston. Grove’s arm was healthy with 273 innings pitched and an rWAR of 9.5. Grove would also post the best rWAR in 1936 and 1937.
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This would also be a season where the best competition for Grove would be a teammate – Wes Ferrell. Ferrell led the league in wins by posting a 25-14 record but didn’t stop there. The right-handed Farrell led the league in innings pitched (322.1), games started (38), complete games (31) and most hits allowed (336).
Farrell – whose brother Rick Ferrell caught him – had a 3.52 earned run average and a WHIP of 1.38. Ferrell finished second on the MVP ballot and had an rWAR of 8.4. Where Ferrell shines is with his bat slashing .347/.427/.533 with seven home runs and 32 RBI. Ferrell finished his MLB career with a .280 average and is considered one of the baseball’s best hitting pitchers. Grove? Lefty was a notoriously poor hitter who actually managed to hit .162 for the season versus a career average of .148.
Despite the 45 combined wins of Grove and Ferrell Boston still finished a disappointing fourth and won just 79 games for a team that had been picked by some to possibly win the pennant.
So who gets my vote?
I go with Ferrell despite his ERA. In the 1930s ERA was a bit inflated due to hitting, but Ferrell’s hitting gives him – at least to me – the edge. Award to Ferrell.