Bret Saberhagen, who won two games for Kansas City in the Royals' World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday became the youngest pitcher in American League history to win the Cy Young Award.
The votes were cast before the playoffs and World Series.
"This is great for me and great for Kansas City," the 21-year-old right-hander said at a news conference. Saberhagen, only three years out of Cleveland High School in Reseda, was earlier named the World Series Most Valuable Player.
Vida Blue, previously the youngest winner of the award, was 22 when he won it with the Oakland A's in 1971.
In his second year in the major leagues, Saberhagen posted a 20-6 record with an earned-run average of 2.87. With remarkable control and poise and sharp command of several pitches, he had 158 strikeouts and issued only 38 walks.
"An award like this is definitely a team award," he said. "If you don't have 25 guys fighting for you every time you go out there, then you don't have a chance."
Saberhagen's wife, Janeane, gave birth to their first child, Drew William, the day before Saberhagen pitched the Royals' 11-0 victory over St. Louis in the seventh game of the World Series. He admitted with a laugh that he may have trouble topping his storybook season next year.
Saberhagen admitted he was surprised at his big margin of victory in voting by members of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America. He was named on 27 of 28 ballots and received 23 first-place votes, gathering 127 points to 88 for runner-up Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees.
"I was definitely surprised. I thought it would be a lot closer than that," he said.
John Schuerholz, Royals general manager, appeared with Saberhagen at the news conference and admitted, "The success we've had this year is almost hard to comprehend.
"None of it would have been possible without a lot of hard working and dedicated players like Bret Saberhagen. We're very proud of him," Schuerholz said.
Saberhagen said his goals for the season were much more modest than the achievements he finally realized.
"I was hoping for 14 or 15 victories and an ERA around 3.2," he said. "At the beginning of the year, Mark Gubicza (another Royals pitcher) and I were joking about the fact that we had a Cy Young incentive clause in our contract--that we would get bonus money for winning the Cy Young. Who would have imagined it would have come true for me?"
"That's what we said," Schuerholz said with a laugh.
Saberhagen said he knew around the All-Star break that he was having a special season.
"But I didn't want to get ahead of myself," he said. "I just took it one batter at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time."
Saberhagen said he planned to work hard in the off-season and come back a better pitcher next year.
"My curveball and my slider aren't where I want them to be," he said. "There's always room for improvement. Maybe I can put on a few pounds and throw the ball a little harder next year."
Saberhagen is the first Kansas City pitcher to win the award and only the fifth from the American League West. Saberhagen, who turned 21 on April 11, was the fifth youngest pitcher in major league history to win 20 games.
"It's all hit me, and I've been enjoying it all," he said. "I've been enjoying everything that's been coming to me. I've been having a great time."
CY YOUNG VOTING
Pitcher 1st 2nd 3rd Pts. Saberhagen, KC 23 4 0 127 Guidry, NY 4 22 2 88 Blyleven, Cle-Min 1 0 4 9 Quisenberry, KC 0 2 3 9 Leibrandt, KC 0 0 7 7 Alexander, Tor 0 0 5 5 Burns, Chi 0 0 2 2 Moore, Cal 0 0 2 2 Stieb, Tor 0 0 2 2 Moore, Sea 0 0 1 1
Note:Points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis