Webb takes home NL Cy Young
Right-hander beats out Hoffman, Carpenter for honor
PHOENIX -- Don't blame Brandon Webb if it takes him a little time to get used to hearing the phrase "2006 National League Cy Young Award winner" in the same sentence as his own name.
"Now [announcers will say] 'former Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb,'" quipped Webb, named the league's best pitcher by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "To have that title means a whole lot. That's the top award that a pitcher can get in a year, and obviously, the No. 1 pitcher in the National League this year. It just sends chills through your body. It's unbelievable."
The Arizona right-hander received 15 out of the possible 32 first-place votes and 103 points based on a 5-3-1 point system. San Diego's Trevor Hoffman finished second with 77 points and 12 first-place votes, while St. Louis' Chris Carpenter, the 2005 winner, was third with 63 points and two first-place votes.
"I was a little surprised that Carpenter didn't get as many first-place votes," said Webb via teleconference on Tuesday afternoon. "It's always surprising whenever we get the votes in and see where it all comes out."
"It's not a surprise," said Carpenter after hearing the news. "I think that there was a group of guys that everybody had a shot. I said all year long that you do the best you can during the season, and when it's all said and done, it's up to the voters. Whatever the voters choose, that's the way it works. You have no control over how they pick. There's no question that there were five or six guys that all could have had the opportunity to win it, and Brandon Webb deserves it, no question about it."
Webb, 27, finished the season with a 16-8 record and 3.10 ERA in 33 starts. His 16 wins tied five other pitchers -- the Reds' Aaron Harang, the Dodgers' Derek Lowe and Brad Penny, the Braves' John Smoltz and the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano -- for the most victories in the National League. Webb's win total marked the lowest for a starting pitcher who won the Cy Young in a full season.
Webb's 16 wins set a new career high, while his eight losses are also the fewest he has recorded in his four-year big-league career.
"It's tough to win ballgames -- it really is," Webb said. "Everything has to happen right, your team has to score runs and then you have to keep the opponents off the board as well. You go to have great defense behind you, and just a lot of luck, too."
The Kentucky native -- in his first year as the club's top starter -- becomes the second D-backs pitcher to win the award, following in the footsteps of Randy Johnson, who won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002.
Webb threw a career-high 235 innings on the season while recording a career-high 178 strikeouts in addition to five complete games and three shutouts. Webb boasted the fourth-best ERA in the Majors and ranked second in innings pitched. He tied for second in complete games and tied for first in shutouts.
Webb went unbeaten in his first 13 starts, while posting an 8-0 record with a 2.14 ERA over that span.
The sinkerball specialist missed one start in the beginning of August due to soreness in his right forearm. After taking a few starts to return to his prior form, the Arizona ace gave up just five earned runs over the course of four consecutive starts from Sept. 9-26.
The year was a memorable one to say the least. Webb served as the D-backs' lone representative in his first All-Star Game, where he threw a scoreless fourth inning and retired a tough trio of Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez in order.
He also posted 30 scoreless innings over three-plus starts from May 20 through the fifth inning of his June 5 start against the Phillies.
Webb's signature sinkerball -- the reason why he once again led the Majors in groundball-to-flyball ratio at 3.64 -- wasn't easy to master early on in his career.
"When I first started throwing it in 2001 in the Minor Leagues, I really had no control over it," he said. "I was hitting a lot of right-handed batters. It's just something that my pitching coaches said, 'You got to keep trusting it, you got to keep trusting it. Good things will happen to you.' It was just reiteration of those words, because I was giving up a ton of groundballs in the infield and through the holes.
"I was like, 'I'm living and dying by this pitch, and it's killing me right now.' It was just a matter of trusting your stuff. You definitely get a feeling of where you need to start it and what you need to do with it."
Lindsey Frazier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.