It wasn’t a query of whether or not Sandy Alcantara would win the Cy Younger Award, simply one in every of whether or not he would turn out to be the primary unanimous winner within the Nationwide League since Clayton Kershaw in 2014.
Certainly, the Miami Marlins’ 27-year-old right-hander swept all 30 first-place votes to beat out Braves lefty Max Fried and Dodgers southpaw Julio Urias to turn out to be the primary Cy Younger winner in Marlins historical past.
With Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander additionally profitable the AL Cy Younger by unanimous vote, this marks simply the second time that each Cy Younger winners have been unanimous. Bob Gibson and Denny McLain additionally gained unanimously in 1968, one 12 months after the award began to be given out to each leagues.
On this age of five-inning starters, Alcantara stood out as a unicorn: He pitched 228⅔ innings, 23⅔ greater than different pitcher within the majors, and essentially the most innings since David Worth threw 230 in 2016. He threw six full video games — greater than every other group. He pitched no less than eight innings in 14 of his 32 begins, essentially the most such video games since 2014. His 8.0 WAR simply topped Aaron Nola’s 6.0 as the very best within the NL and ranked as the very best in Marlins historical past, forward of Kevin Brown’s 7.9 in 1996.
“It makes me really feel so particular as a result of I got here right here to the Marlins with my optimistic mentality — simply tried to win,” Alcantara stated after profitable the award. “Tried to compete, tried to get higher. This 12 months I put every little thing in the identical spot, working laborious. I’ve had nice success. And now to win the Nationwide League Cy Younger, I really feel so joyful and blessed.”
He joins Pedro Martinez (1997) as the one participant born within the Dominican Republic to win the NL award. Martinez additionally gained twice within the AL (1999, 2000), and the opposite Dominican winner within the AL was Bartolo Colon in 2005.
“The laborious work, the positivity, each day, combating for my group, competing in opposition to any group. That makes it particular,” he stated. “My mentality on a regular basis is to be aggressive. Attempt to get higher each day. And I am going to hold doing the identical. And let’s have a look at if I can win the Cy Younger subsequent 12 months, too.”
This is one other option to view Alcantara’s award: He had 16 begins of greater than seven innings if you add in his two 7⅔-inning outings. Fried and Urias mixed for simply two outings of greater than seven innings. It wasn’t simply his capacity to pitch deep into video games that made Alcantara the Cy Younger winner, nevertheless. His 2.28 ERA ranked second within the NL behind Urias’ 2.16, and he held batters to a .212 common with a number of the most electrical stuff within the majors.
“He is throwing 100-plus mph and he is received motion on that fastball,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt stated.
Certainly, Alcantara averaged slightly below 98 mph together with his fastball (he throws each a four-seamer and sinker), however his sport plan is a little bit totally different from a variety of trendy pitchers. He induces a variety of mushy contact relatively than simply racking up strikeouts — and thus avoids the excessive pitch counts that outcome from a variety of deep counts. Consequently, he led all starters in averaging simply 14.2 pitches per inning, permitting him to go deep into video games. He nonetheless managed 207 strikeouts, together with a season-high 14 in an eight-inning win over the Braves on Could 28. “Generally with Sandy it appears to be like like pitch and catch,” then-Marlins supervisor Don Mattingly stated after that dominating victory.
Initially signed by the Cardinals out of the Dominican Republic, the Marlins acquired Alcantara after the 2017 season in a commerce that despatched Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis. Alcantara made the All-Star group in 2019, his first full season within the majors, when he completed with a 3.88 ERA, after which had a giant breakout in 2021, when he went 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA in 205 innings.
An improved changeup took him to a different degree this season, as batters hit simply .145 in opposition to it with no dwelling runs in 248 at-bats. It is a energy change that averaged 91.8 mph — sure, a 92 mph changeup. In keeping with Statcast metrics, his changeup saved 25 runs, essentially the most priceless changeup within the sport in 2022.
Perhaps the spotlight of Alcantara’s season wasn’t one in every of his seven scoreless outings, however a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals on June 29. Main 4-3 with runners at first and second and one out within the ninth and Alcantara at 115 pitches, Mattingly got here out to apparently take away him from the sport. Alcantara talked himself into staying in and two pitches later induced to a double play to finish it.
“When he got here to me, I stated, ‘I received it. I received it.’ I believe he has an excessive amount of confidence in me to complete the sport,” Alcantara stated after that win. “I haven’t got to fret when I’ve males on base. I do know I can throw a strike and get a double play.”
“He stated he had it, and he did,” Mattingly stated. “I wasn’t going to vow him two hitters, however I gave him that one. He is fairly particular.”
Particular sufficient that the extension the Marlins signed him to final November that runs by means of 2027 now appears to be like like a discount. With the Marlins now having a Cy Younger winner, the one franchises with out one are the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies.
The Related Press contributed to this report