TYIB voters honor Greinke as top starter
KC's Cy Young Award winner edges out Lincecum
Tim Lincecum edged St. Louis starters Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright for his second consecutive National League Cy Young Award last month in one of the closest races in recent memory.
But Kansas City's Zack Greinke exacted a little Missouri revenge Thursday, preventing the San Francisco hurler from claiming a second consecutive This Year in Baseball Top Starter honor.
Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young winner, edged Lincecum with 19.8 percent of the vote, compared to 19.6 percent for the Giants right-hander, in the closest 2009 TYIB battle. The Yankees' CC Sabathia checked in at third with 12.9 percent, followed by the Tigers' Justin Verlander at 11.8 percent and the Mariners Felix Hernandez at 8.8 percent.
It was Hernandez, with his 19 victories and 2.49 ERA, who Greinke believed would make the AL Cy Young voting slightly tighter. Instead, Greinke finished with 25 of 28 possible first-place votes and cruised to the franchise's fourth such honor.
"I was really surprised at that," said Greinke, at the time of the AL Cy Young announcement, of Hernandez ending up 54 points behind him. "I thought Felix had an amazing year and that he would get a little more credit than he did with that. Everything was fantastic with him, and I thought it'd be closer than it was between the two of us."
Once again, the fans voted in record numbers when given the chance to weigh in on the season's best players, plays and moments in the 2009 This Year in Baseball Awards, as more than 12 million votes were cast on MLB.com. Winners will be presented their trophies on field in 2010.
This TYIB Starter of the Year marked one of the 14 awards presented. Top honors also were awarded for Performance, Play, Moment, Postseason Moment, Hitter, Rookie, Unsung Star, Manager, Executive, Closer, Setup Man, Oddity and Defensive Player. Other 2009 AL Central TYIB winners included Minnesota's Joe Mauer as Top Hitter, and the White Sox Mark Buehrle for Performance and Dewayne Wise for Play, with both of those coming from Buehrle's perfect game hurled against the Rays on July 23.
Greinke, who joined Bret Saberhagen (1985 and '89) and David Cone (1994) as Kansas City Cy Young winners, posted a 16-8 record with a miniscule and Major League-best 2.16 ERA for the Royals. Greinke fanned 242 and walked 51, allowing 195 hits and just 11 home runs in 229 1/3 innings.
His Cy Young candidacy began from the season's outset, winning his first six starts with a 0.40 ERA. Only Walter Johnson (1913) and Fernando Valenzeula (1981) had achieved similar success with lower ERAs.
"I don't really know how it happened," said Greinke of his amazing start. "It started off real good, and I'm sure there was a lot of luck going at the very beginning of the year when I had a good streak of not giving up any runs. ... It just really helped my confidence. I started to really believe I could do good things."
Billy Butler, who was the Royals' top player on offense this year to go with Greinke's top pitching award, stood as the only Kansas City player nominated in the TYIB Awards. Butler finished eighth in Unsung Star, a category won by Philadelphia's Jayson Werth.
As for Wainwright and Carpenter, who were edged out by Lincecum in the NL Cy Young, they finished sixth and ninth, respectively, in the TYIB Top Starter category behind the AL Cy Young honoree.
"I'm still real happy to get it because you kind of work your whole life to do something and get acknowledged for it," said Greinke of the Cy Young Award. "Even going into [next] year, I'll work as hard as I can to try to do it again."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.