Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber was the unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday, capping an impressive rise by the right-hander to his status as one of the game’s best pitchers.
Using a versatile repertoire that includes a looping curveball and a wipeout slider, Bieber went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 77⅓ innings during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, leading the majors in ERA and strikeouts, and tying Yu Darvish for the most wins.
Bieber became the second player in franchise history to win the pitching AL Triple Crown, joining Hall of Famer Bob Feller in 1940. He was the first pitcher to lead the majors in all three categories since Johan Santana for Minnesota in 2006.
Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda finished second in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, followed by Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
It marked the 10th time that an AL pitcher was a unanimous choice for the award. Bieber is the first unanimous winner in the league since Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers in 2011.
The 25-year-old Bieber was selected by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft. He made his major league debut in 2018 and went 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA. He really started to show his potential last year, winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game and finishing with 15 wins and a 3.28 ERA.
“I was kind of a late bloomer in high school, so I feel like I had to learn how to pitch and let my stuff come to me,” Bieber said last week when he was announced as a Cy Young finalist. “Continue to work hard, continue to develop in the latter half of high school and going into college, was able to add some velocity and kind of refine my game.
“But in terms of development, I wouldn’t trade my process for anything. I felt like my early years learning how to pitch, learning how to change speeds and locate the ball has paid dividends in the long run.”
Bieber gives Cleveland its fifth Cy Young Award since CC Sabathia won in 2007. Cliff Lee won in 2008, and Corey Kluber took home the honor in 2014 and 2017. Gaylord Perry in 1972 is the only other Cy Young winner for the Indians.
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