Yankees ‘Ace’ Gerrit Cole Brings Home First Cy Young

Gerrit Cole pitches and contributes towards a win against the Philadelphia Phillies. AP/Bebeto Matthews

The New York Yankees landed Cole after the 2019 season on a historic $324 million contract, and while the team hasn’t secured a World Series championship (yet), Cole will loft the first Cy Young award to be held by a Yankee since 2001 (Roger Clemens).

During a 2023 Yankees season riddled with low points, Gerrit Cole shined as the best pitcher in the American League.

Among qualified starters, Cole led the majors in WHIP (0.98) and opponents’ on-base percentage (.259). He also led the American League in ERA (2.63), quality starts (24), innings pitched (209), opponents’ batting average (.206) and OPS (.581).

Photo by The Athletic

Because Cole vastly outperformed his contemporaries, Cole’s competition has now become pitchers of the past:

  • He allowed two runs or fewer in 26 of 33 starts; this tied Ron Guidry’s efforts in 1978 for second-most in Yankees history (Jack Chesbro – 28 in 1904).
  • Cole’s 2.63 ERA was the lowest by a qualified Yankee pitcher in a 162-game season since Rudy May in 1980 (2.46 ERA).
  • He posted the fourth-best ERA by a qualified Yankee in the past 51 years. Only Ron Guidry, Rudy May, and Catfish Hunter have been better.

The award has been just out of reach for Cole during his 11-year career. He has been the Cy Young runner-up twice, the latest instance being his first full season with the Yankees in 2021. He has also been named to six All-Star teams and started the latest 2023 edition in Seattle. During the 2023 season, Cole acknowledged that starting an All-Star Game was on his baseball bucket list.

After Cole’s dazzling last performance of the season against the Blue Jays, a two-hit complete-game shutout that all but secured the award, he acknowledged that he would be viewed as the front-runner for the award leading into the offseason. Cole didn’t hesitate to credit everyone around him:

“I’m just very grateful for my teammates,” said Cole, “In the 33 games I was able to play this year, they showed up every single time. Lately, they kind of rallied around that fact, and maybe in a certain sense, after some of our collective hopes fell by the wayside, that motivated them to continue to play hard. I’m just so grateful for that.”

During last week’s GM meetings in Arizona, Brian Cashman called Cole “the smartest player I’ve ever come across.” Cashman continued, “I think he deserves [the Cy Young]… He’s already knee-deep into finding ways to be better. How much better can you be than what he just did? But that’s how he’s wired.”

Yankees Captain Aaron Judge said it best earlier this season:

“This is Gerrit Cole’s era”

Jacob P.M.

Covering the New York Yankees - Find me on X/Twitter: @JacobBSpeaks

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