After an exceptional 2023 season, Gerrit Cole has won the AL Cy Young Award unanimously. The title is given to the best pitcher in the American League for the concurring season. Cole was about as good as you can get in 2023, coming back strong after an underwhelming 2022 season. He started the year out strong, as he was dominant on Opening Day and for the first month of the year. Cole eventually slowed down a little during the midway point of the season but picked up significantly after the All-Star break. This is where he separated himself from the pack and finished the season as the clear AL Cy Young favorite.
The 2023 AL Cy Young Award winner is Gerrit Cole! pic.twitter.com/eytKsQYECA
— MLB (@MLB) November 15, 2023
Why Gerrit Cole Earned the Cy Young Award
Cole led the American League in winning percentage despite the Yankees’ offense underperforming this year. He also led the junior circuit in ERA (2.63), innings pitched (209), games started (33), complete game shutouts (2), and had the best WHIP with 0.981. Cole was dominant and pitched as the Yankees expected when they signed him to the largest free-agent pitcher contract of all time. In hindsight, the deal has been a massive success so far. Cole has led the league in innings pitched since his arrival to the Yankees. His longevity is probably his greatest quality, as few starters can take the ball as often and with as much dominance as Cole. In addition, he has been able to produce continuously when the Yankees have needed him to. He has come through in big games following his disastrous wild card game in Boston in 2021.
He was simply the best pitcher in baseball this year, and the WAR statistic would have to agree. Cole led all pitchers in the league with a WAR of 7.4. The next closest pitcher was NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell with a 6.0 WAR.
Cole and the Yankees Have Something to Build On
Gerrit Cole was the only reliable Yankees starter in 2023 and is unquestionably the ace of the pitching department. He will be vital in reigniting the Yankees rotation, and he can best do that by continuing his 2023 form. Cole is capable of putting up similar numbers again next year, but he cannot be the only pitcher to do so. The staff has to step up behind their ace knowing he can lead the team to greatness. Cole’s ability to teach younger pitchers the craft is going to be critical for the organization. When Cole was signed after 2019, the team also believed he would be able to teach and help his teammates. This has been seen already when Cole sits down to another starter in between innings to walk them through what’s happening.
Cole’s extensive knowledge could also prove critical in signing big free-agent pitchers this offseason. Pitchers in general tend to be the most meticulous of any position. Their position requires perfection and constant adjustments to become successful. Cole is the epitome of this, as he has changed from a sinker ball pitcher to a four-seam fastball pitcher.
Going into next season, Cole will lead the Yankees rotation as its ace and leader. Now the Yankees staff has to do their part and follow Cole’s example into 2024.
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