5. C.C. Sabathia wins the AL Cy Young Award
C.C. Sabathia's parting memories of the 2007 season were not positive ones. A tightrope-act start in Game 1 of the division series against the Yankees was followed by two tough outings in the ALCS. Matched twice against Boston's Josh Beckett, not-so-arguably the best postseason pitcher currently active, C.C. looked like a rattled youngster when compared to Beckett's cool, collected veteran demeanor. C.C, 27, is a little more than two months younger than Beckett.
The greatest pitchers are always measured by their ability to bring home the bacon in October. So it is fair to say C.C.'s postseason (1-2, 8.80 ERA) wiped some of the luster off his body of work.
Fortunately for him, the Cy Young Award doesn't take into account the postseason, because from April through September, C.C .Sabathia was the best pitcher in baseball. That's why C.C. won the first Cy Young Award by an Indians pitcher since Gaylord Perry in 1972.
C.C. garnered 19 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 119 points in the AL balloting, topping Beckett, who led the majors in wins with 20; the Angels' John Lackey, who won the AL ERA title with a 3.01 mark and Tribe teammate Fausto Carmona, who tied C.C. with 19 wins.
C.C. finished the season 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts in a major league-high 241 innings pitched. There is little doubt that he would have easily eclipsed 20 wins if not for a Tribe offensive lull in July and August that resulted in a drop in run support for the entire rotation.
All told, in the AL ranks, C.C. finished tied for second in wins, fifth in ERA, fifth in strikeouts (209), second in complete games (four) and first in strikeouts per walk (5.65).
It was, without a doubt, the finest start-to-finish performance for C.C., who had been prone to bouts of inconsistency in previous years. Of course, it came at the right time as C.C., slated to become a free agent after the 2008 season, will be pitching for a massive contract next year.
Whether the Indians can re-sign C.C. could go a long way toward determining whether the Tribe's 2007 playoff run was the beginning of a new era of contention, or an anomaly.