Roger Schlueter

Keuchel's Cy Young season puts him in elite company

Lefty is just the 11th pitcher since '56 to lead league in wins, ERA+ and WHIP

Keuchel's Cy Young season puts him in elite company

In 1953, Milwaukee Braves left-hander Warren Spahn paced the NL in wins (23) and WHIP (1.058), and also produced the league's best ERA+ (188). Despite all of that excellence, Spahn failed to capture the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Cy Young Award. But there was a legitimate reason for this: In 1953, there was no Cy Young Award to be given or accepted.

Since the award was first bestowed in 1956 there are 11 pitchers who finished a season with the most wins in the their league while also owning their league's lowest WHIP and highest ERA+. In all 11 cases -- Houston's Dallas Keuchel became the 11th on Wednesday -- that pitcher has claimed the Cy Young Award.

The 27-year-old southpaw did more than just continue this particular narrative, of course. He assembled a stat line that offers all sorts of compelling connections to the past.

AL Cy Young Award Voting
Pitcher,Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Points
Dallas Keuchel, HOU 22 8       186
David Price, DET/TOR 8 21 1     143
Sonny Gray, OAK   1 24 3   82
Chris Sale, CWS     3 7 7 30
Chris Archer, TB       10 9 29
Wade Davis, KC     1 1 5 10
Felix Hernandez, SEA     1 3   9
Collin McHugh, HOU       1 3 5
Corey Kluber, CLE       1 2 4
Marco Estrada, TOR       1 1 3
Andrew Miller, NYY       1 1 3
Shawn Tolleson, TEX       1 1 3
Carlos Carrasco, CLE       1   2
Dellin Betances, NYY         1 1

Complete 2015 awards coverage

The 27-year-old southpaw did more than just continue this particular narrative, of course. He assembled a stat line that offers all sorts of compelling connections to the past.

For the most part, the men who have led the league in wins, ERA+ and WHIP in any given year since 1956 have thrown the ball with their right hands. Righties Roger Clemens (1986, '97), Bret Saberhagen ('89), Greg Maddux ('94, '95), Pedro Martinez ('99), and Justin Verlander (2011) all did so.

Keuchel is only the fourth southpaw since 1956 to accomplish the feat. Here's a look at his numbers in these three categories, along with the three others who rode such leadership to a Cy Young Award:

Ron Guidry, 1978: "Gator" recorded 25 wins, a 208 ERA+ and a 0.946 WHIP. He also led the American League in winning percentage, ERA, shutouts and hits per nine innings, while capturing every first-place vote.

Johan Santana, 2006: In addition to capturing the belts in wins (19), ERA+ (162) and WHIP (0.997), Santana also paced the AL in K's and ERA to win the Triple Crown, and he enlarged that distinction with top marks in innings, hits per nine and strikeouts per nine. 2006 marked his second Cy Young Award, as he captured all 28 first-place votes.

Clayton Kershaw, 2014: Kershaw had 21 wins, a 197 ERA+ and a 0.857 WHIP. In winning his third Cy Young Award, Kershaw also led the National League in winning percentage, ERA, K's per nine and K:BB ratio. Like Guidry in 1978 and Johan in 2006, Kershaw took home every first-place vote.

Dallas Keuchel, 2015: Keuchel picked up 20 wins, posted a 162 ERA+ and finished with a 1.017 WHIP. He also topped the AL in shutouts and innings. Keuchel's season calls for additional exploration.

Here are some other tidbits:

• Keuchel became one of only 22 different AL pitchers ever to win at least 20 games, fan at least 200 batters and produce a WHIP as low at 1.017. Like the earlier collection of great seasons, southpaws are in limited quantity. Before Keuchel, the only left-handers to do so were Rube Waddell (1905), Dave McNally ('68), Wilbur Wood ('71), Vida Blue ('71), Guidry ('78) and Santana (2004).

Comparing 2015 Cy Young winners

• Keuchel became just the sixth AL lefty in the DH era (since 1973) to throw at least 230 innings and hold the opposition to a slugging percentage below .320. Perhaps most impressively, he was the first to do this since 1978. Ken Holtzman ('75), Vida Blue and Frank Tanana ('76), and Guidry and Mike Caldwell (1978) also did so.

• Keuchel was, quite literally, unbeatable at home, finishing 15-0 at Minute Maid Park. No other pitcher dating back to 1914 has finished a season with at least 18 home starts and no home losses. In those 18 starts at home, the Astros were 16-2, and the two losses came with 3-2 and 2-1 final scores.

Keuchel undefeated at home

• Equally notable, Keuchel was stingy in the run department at home, with a 1.46 ERA. In the live-ball era, only 17 other pitchers with at least 15 home starts in a season have produced an ERA as low or lower. Before Keuchel, the last five to do so were Zack Greinke (2015), Jose Fernandez ('13), Mike Morgan (1992), Orel Hershiser ('85), and Nolan Ryan ('72).

From his Opening Day start to his start in the Midsummer Classic all the way through his magnificent start in the AL Wild Card Game, Dallas Keuchel was a star in 2015. And now he's a Cy Young Award winner, too.

Roger Schlueter is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.