Adam Wainwright finished second in balloting for the 2010 National League Cy Young Award, revealed on Tuesday, moving a step closer to baseball's top pitching prize after another brilliant season. A year after Wainwright was surprised and disappointed to finish third, his runner-up showing was expected.
As a result, Wainwright's finish in the balloting was much easier for the right-hander to swallow. There was little doubt before Tuesday's announcement that Roy Halladay of the Phillies would win the award, and deservedly so. Wainwright's showing this time around comes as exactly what it ought to be -- recognition of one of the game's best pitchers enjoying yet another exceptional season.
"Last year, I really was sitting by the TV with my fingers crossed, hoping that I would win the award," Wainwright said. "This year, about 12:30 [p.m. ET], I went to the gym and just started working out, just knowing that it was pretty much in the books. ... [Halladay] certainly deserves it. He had an amazing year. Not much more you can say."
By finishing in the top five in the balloting, Wainwright took a major step toward guaranteeing his vesting contract options for 2012 and '13. If he does not finish the '11 season on the disabled list, the options will be guaranteed, and Wainwright will make $9 million in '12 and $12 million in '13. If the options do not automatically vest, the club still has the choice of exercising them for the total amount or declining them, with no buyout cost.
"I am really excited to be a St. Louis Cardinal for three more years, at this moment," Wainwright said. "I hope to one day finish my career in St. Louis. So three more years obviously is something I can really get excited about. My family loves it there. They have great schools. The Cardinals' fan base has really embraced us and my family as well. Plus, there's some pretty good barbecue up there. I'm always proud to be a St. Louis Cardinal, and three more years -- hopefully, it's three more years in the span of a lot more years after that."
Perhaps more important, Wainwright also told reporters on Tuesday that his pitching elbow is feeling better than it did at the end of the season. He dealt with some right elbow discomfort late in the season but recently underwent an MRI exam and said that everything checked out well.
NL CY YOUNG VOTING
|Roy Halladay, Phillies||32||-||-||-||-||224|
|Adam Wainwright, Cardinals||-||28||3||-||1||122|
|Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies||-||4||19||8||1||90|
|Tim Hudson, Braves||-||-||3||13||4||39|
|Josh Johnson, Marlins||-||-||5||5||9||34|
|Roy Oswalt, Astros/Phillies||-||-||1||3||5||14|
|Brian Wilson, Giants||-||-||-||1||5||7|
|Heath Bell, Padres||-||-||1||-||1||4|
|Mat Latos, Padres||-||-||-||1||2||4|
|Brett Myers, Astros||-||-||-||1||-||2|
|Tim Lincecum, Giants||-||-||-||-||2||2|
|Bronson Arroyo, Reds||-||-||-||-||1||1|
|Matt Cain, Giants||-||-||-||-||1||1|
"[An MRI] has taken place," Wainwright said. "Everything came out crystal clear. My arm is in perfect health. The strained muscle in my elbow is completely healed, and the nerve inflammation is gone. I've been looking at working as hard as I possibly can and getting ready for next season already, just doing my normal offseason workout. You can tell everybody that I'm fine and ready to play."
In his fourth season as a big league starter, Wainwright put up his best numbers to date. He went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA, 213 strikeouts, 56 walks and 15 home runs allowed in 230 1/3 innings. He set personal bests in wins, strikeouts and complete games (five), and he threw the first two shutouts of his big league career. The walk total was Wainwright's lowest in a full season as a starter.
Unfortunately for Wainwright, he finished behind Halladay in nearly all of those categories. The Philadelphia right-hander topped the NL with 21 wins, nine complete games, four shutouts and 250 2/3 innings, and he finished second with 219 strikeouts. Halladay placed just behind Wainwright in ERA at 2.44, though he pitched in a tougher ballpark.
"It's hard to argue with this year's winner," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "A perfect game, 20-plus wins -- just check the boxes. He was a horse. But it just shows you how good Waino is, to be there year in and year out."
"Halladay's season speaks for itself," Wainwright said. "I think he led in almost every category you can lead in. There's no disappointment in my season whatsoever, knowing that I did pretty much everything I could do, and he just had a better season than me. I've got to believe that if I have that season every year, I'm going to win a few awards."
Wainwright was especially superb at home, going 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA at Busch Stadium. He struck out 104 against 21 walks in 16 home starts and allowed three homers at Busch Stadium all year.
Wainwright was named on all 32 ballots, one of three pitchers named by every voter. He received 28 second-place votes, three third-place and one fifth-place. Halladay was a unanimous winner. No other Cardinals pitcher received points in the balloting.
Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies finished third in the voting, with the Braves' Tim Hudson and the Marlins' Josh Johnson rounding out the top five.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.