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More votes to be on Cy Young ballots

More votes to be on Cy Young ballots

SEATTLE -- To give more pitchers a better chance of receiving Cy Young Award recognition, the ballot sent to voters has been increased from three to five players.

It's the first change in the ballot since 1970.

"I think it came down to two things," said Jack O'Connell, the longtime secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America. "Relievers were getting overlooked and there are more teams and pitchers than ever before."

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Two BBWAA-accredited writers from each Major League city will vote on the Cy Young Award for the American and National Leagues. Winners will be announced in November.

The award was first introduced in 1956 by Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955. The award was originally given to the single best pitcher in the Major Leagues, but in 1967, after the retirement of Frick, the award was given to one pitcher in each league.

Frick was worried that the Cy Young Award would diminish the importance of the Most Valuable Player Award, but the Commissioner agreed to allow a committee of baseball writers select the best pitcher each year.

Brooklyn Dodgers right-hander Don Newcombe was the first Cy Young Award winner

From 1956-58, a pitcher was not allowed to win the award more than once, a rule that was eliminated in 1959. After a tie in the 1969 voting, the process was changed, in which each writer was to vote for three different pitchers.

A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote received three points and a third-place vote was worth one point.

Under the new system, the point breakdown is 7-4-3-2-1.

"It's consistent with the MVP," said O'Connell, referring to the point values of the 10-though-1 ballot. "I worked that out with Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau. We tried to figure out a formula we felt was the most fair.

"It still puts emphasis on who's first on the ballot, and it's very rare when the winner doesn't get the most first-place votes."

Only twice in three-player system's 40-year history did a pitcher win without having the most first-place votes. In 1998, Braves starter Tom Glavine received 11 first-place votes, two fewer than Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, but had a 98-88 edge in total points.

And last season, Giants starter Tim Lincecum won his second straight NL Cy Young Award with 11 first-place votes, one fewer than Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, whose teammate Chris Carpenter had nine.

Only 10 points separated the three pitchers.

Both Lincecum and Wainwright were listed on all 32 ballots, while Carpenter was not selected first, second or third by two of the voters.

The five-player ballot "does kind of open it up a little bit more," O'Connell said. "The idea was to expand the field."

He also pointed out that pitching has become so specialized that "one of the most important jobs is the late-inning setup guy and he almost never gets consideration for the Cy Young Award.

"Maybe this will be fairer to everyone."

The first 18 Cy Young Award winners in the NL were starting pitchers, a streak ended in 1974 by Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall. Four other NL relievers have since won the award.

Yankees left-handed reliever Sparky Lyle was the first non-starter to win a Cy Young Award in the AL (1977) and three have followed -- Rollie Fingers (1981), Willie Hernandez (1984) and Dennis Eckersley (1992).

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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