When the Red Sox traded for Chris Sale last winter, it was hard to be more excited about the prospect of one of the very best pitchers in baseball being in Boston. At the same time, there was a small amount of apprehension since the team had been through some tough luck in their first year with the Red Sox. That wasn’t the case with Sale, who was electric from his debut on. It’s true that there were some struggles late in the year, and those certainly can’t be forgotten, but the vast majority of his 2017 was amazing, and he was the most exciting Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez.
All of that culminated with Wednesday’s Cy Young vote in which Sale finished as the American League runner-up to Corey Kluber. It wasn’t a very close race, either, as Kluber grabbed 28 of the 30 first place votes. Sale did grab the other two to go along with 28 second place votes.
For the first four months of the year, it seemed as if it was a shoe-in that Sale would win and every other pitcher was playing for second place. Then, Kluber went on an otherworldly run over the final two months of the year while Sale was merely mortal. Specifically, Sale pitched to a 4.09 ERA over the season’s final two months while Kluber posted a 1.42 mark. That was enough to swing the vast majority voters.
In the end, putting bias aside, this was probably the correct decision by the voters, though it’s still disappointing. We’re still talking about one of the game’s greats in Sale who just had the best season of his career. He finished with a 2.90 ERA over 32 starts and 214 innings, struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings and only walked fewer than two per nine. It was a truly amazing season, and there is no sign of slowing down next year. The only issue, of course, is getting him to keep it up over the entire season, which is something the team is going to have to figure out next year.
For as great as Sale’s career has been, surprisingly enough this is the highest he has even finished in the Cy Young voting. He has finished in the top six in each of the last six years and the top five in each of the last five seasons.
Sale wasn’t the only Red Sox pitcher to get votes, either. Craig Kimbrel, who was the best reliever in the American League this season, got a handful of down-ballot votes for the Cy Young and finished sixth. He received six third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and five fifth-place votes.
You can see the entirety of this year’s voting and individual ballots here.