Free agent left-hander Blake Snell has been named the National League Cy Young Award winner for 2023, per an announcement from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Logan Webb of the Giants finished second in the voting while Zac Gallen of the Diamondbacks finished third.
Snell, 31 next month, has now earned a Cy Young award for the second time in his career. The first trophy was in the American League, with Snell winning as a member of the Rays in 2018. He is just the seventh pitcher to win the award in both leagues, joining Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez, Max Scherzer, Gaylord Perry and Roy Halladay.
The left-handed Snell hasn’t been the most consistent pitcher in his career, with both his health and performance wobbling over the years, but his two award-winning campaigns have been excellent. His first trophy came after posting an earned run average of 1.89 with the Rays and this second piece of hardware was earned by posting a 2.25 for the Padres this year. His most recent campaign saw him walk 13.3% of batters faced but he danced around those by striking out 31.5% of his opponents and keeping the ball on the ground at a 44.4% clip. He probably had some help from the baseball gods as his .256 batting average on balls in play and 86.7% strand rate were both on the lucky side of average, but his punchouts and grounders surely helped him somewhat as well.
Outside of those two campaigns, the results have been far more mixed. He got to 180 innings pitched in his award-winning campaigns but hasn’t reached 130 in any other season. He also hasn’t posted an ERA lower than 3.24 in any of them.
Of course, that doesn’t matter for the Cy Young voting. It’s a single-season award and his year-to-year consistency is not something for the voters to consider. Snell’s voting wasn’t quite unanimous but he got 28 of the 30 first-place votes. But his overall track record will be of concern to the clubs considering signing him as a free agent. Pitchers with multiple Cy Youngs don’t hit free agency every day but it’s also incredibly rare for a pitcher to put so many runners on base without allowing them to score. Regardless of those concerns, MLBTR predicted Snell to land a contract of $200MM over seven years and he’s already garnering plenty of interest.
Webb had a 3.25 ERA in 216 innings for the Giants this year, which got him one of the first-place votes and 17 for second. Gallen had a 3.47 ERA in his 210 innings, which led to one first-place vote and three for second. In the full voting, which can be seen here, votes also went to Spencer Strider, Justin Steele, Zack Wheeler, Kodai Senga and Corbin Burnes.