Baseball’s Cy Young Award was first introduced by MLB Commissioner Ford Frick in 1956 following the death of former Red Sox player and Hall of Fame pitcher Denton True “Cy” Young, who amassed 511 wins during his 22-year career, in 1955. Initially, it was given to a single pitcher chosen from the major leagues; in 1967, the new commissioner of baseball, William Eckert, announced that winners from each league, the American and the National, would be chosen.
In 53 years, three Red Sox pitchers have won a total of six awards; Jim Lonborg, Roger Clemens, and Pedro Martinez. Lonborg was not only the first Boston pitcher to receive the honor, but he was the first pitcher honored by American league voters when the award was split between the leagues in 1967. Clemens won the first of seven total awards in 1986 and repeated as the honoree in 1987, the first since Baltimore’s Jim Palmer won back-to-back awards in 1975 and 1976. Clemens would win one more with the club in 1991 before winning four more as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays (1997 and 1998), New York Yankees (2001), and Houston Astros (2004). Martinez is the only other pitcher in franchise history to win the honor; he won in 1999 and 2000, considered two of the best seasons by a pitcher in modern baseball history, after winning the award with Montreal in 1997.
Red Sox pitchers have also finished twice in five separate votes. In 1990, Clemens finished with a 22-7 record, a 1.93 ERA, and 209 strikeouts, but lost to Oakland’s Bob Welch, who despite winning 27 games finished with an ERA+ nearly half that of Clemens. Martinez also finished twice in the vote during his Red Sox tenure, once in 1998 when he finished second to Clemens, then playing in Toronto, and again in 2002 when Oakland’s Barry Zito won the award. In 2004, Curt Schilling finished his first season in Boston with 21 wins, but was easily bested by Minnesota’s Johan Santana, who finished with a lower ERA and a higher strikeout total.
Most recently, Cleveland’s CC Sabathia finished 2007 with near-identical numbers (19-7, 3.21 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 209 SO, 143 ERA+) to Boston’s Josh Beckett (20-7, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 194 SO, 145 ERA+); the latter then went 4-0 in four starts during the 2007 postseason, while the former went 1-2 in the playoffs, with both loses coming against the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. However, as voting takes place before the postseason starts, Sabathia was named the winner with 19 first-place votes to eight for Beckett.