Bob Welch had the success, if not the statistics, of Roger Clemens and Dave Stewart. On Tuesday, he got the Cy Young Award to go with it.
In a strange and split vote in which no one was named on all 28 ballots, Welch got 15 first-place votes and a total of 107 points. Clemens, with an earned-run average more than a full run better than Welch, was second with eight first-place votes and 77 points.
Stewart, Welch's teammate, also had a better ERA and won 20 games for the fourth consecutive season, but again failed to win the Cy Young. He was third with three first-place votes and 43 points, followed by record-setting Chicago reliever Bobby Thigpen, who had the other two first-place votes and 20 points.
"You'd like to have the other thing, the World Series championship, but this is a more personal thing," Welch said. "You just feel fortunate that people recognize you."
Two members of the Baseball Writers Assn. in each AL city voted, and balloting was completed before the start of the postseason, in which Oakland's bid for a second consecutive World Series title ended with a sweep by Cincinnati. The National League Cy Young winner will be announced today.
Before this season, Welch was one of baseball's most consistent pitchers for 12 years, although he never won more than 17 games. It didn't look as if he would improve on that when, fighting the effects of the lockout, he went 0-3 with a 17.72 ERA in spring training.
In Welch's first start of the season, he gave up a leadoff home run to Minnesota's Dan Gladden. But Oakland's outstanding defense, the Athletics' excellent relief corps and the spacious Oakland Coliseum benefited Welch, who went on to set a club record for victories as his team won the West championship. He never lost two consecutive decisions.
"No doubt about it, with me it's all between the ears," Welch said. "It's all mental."
Welch's 27 victories were the most in the AL since Denny McLain won 31 in 1968. Not since Steve Carlton won 27 for Philadelphia in 1972 had a major leaguer won that many.
Welch did it with a 2.95 ERA while pitching only two complete games--both shutouts--in 35 starts. In 238 innings, he walked 77, struck out 127, gave up 26 home runs and 214 hits.
Clemens was 21-6 with a 1.93 ERA--only the second Red Sox pitcher in 73 years with an ERA under 2.00. He missed almost all of the final month with tendinitis in his shoulder, although he did complete seven games, including four shutouts, in 31 starts.
Clemens, a two-time Cy Young winner, pitched 228 1/3 innings and struck out 209, walked only 54, gave up only seven home runs and yielded 193 hits.
Stewart went 22-11 with a 2.56 ERA. He pitched 11 complete games, four for shutouts, in 36 starts. In 267 innings, he struck out 166, walked 83, gave up 16 homers and 226 hits.
Stewart finished third in the Cy Young voting in 1987 after going 20-13, was fourth in 1988 after being 21-12 and was runner-up last season after going 21-9.
If anything, at least Stewart helped prevent Clemens, his longtime rival, from winning this year--Stewart won all three head-to-head meetings with Clemens; without those games, Clemens was 21-3 with a 1.71 ERA.
Welch got 10 second-place votes, three third-places and was left off one ballot. Clemens had 10 second-place votes, seven thirds and was left off by three voters.
Thigpen, who set a major league record with 57 saves in 64 chances and had a 1.83 ERA, was named on 10 ballots. Oakland's Dennis Eckersley, who got 48 saves in 50 tries and had an 0.61 ERA, received a pair of third-place votes.
Vida Blue (1971) and Catfish Hunter (1974) also won the award while pitching for Oakland.
"When you have an end like we did with the World Series, that's really the focus," Welch said.
Welch, who recently filed for free agency, did not say if he will re-sign with the A's.
Welch, 34, broke into the majors with the Dodgers in 1978 and was traded to Oakland after the 1987 season.