Peavy wins NL Cy Young unanimously

Peavy wins NL Cy Young Award

SAN DIEGO -- In hopes of "saving a few bullets" as he's often apt to say, Jake Peavy once tried a more conservative tack to the way he went after opposing hitters and attacked the strike zone.

It didn't get him far.

"I just feel like that's the way I've got to pitch," Peavy said this season about being aggressive. "I can't go out there and pitch to contact. Be aggressive. ... That's the type of pitcher I am. I go as hard as I can for as long as I can and see where the cards fall."

On Thursday, the National League Cy Young Award fell right into Peavy's lap, as the 26-year-old became the unanimous winner of the honor, as he was named first on all 32 of the ballots that were distributed to voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"It's a humbling day ... it's pretty amazing," Peavy said on a national conference call. "I was elated. This is as big as it gets as far as individual awards go. You can never dream anything like this up."

Peavy led the league in just about every pertinent category in 2007 -- victories (19), ERA (2.54), strikeouts (240) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.67). Peavy also started the All-Star Game in July in San Francisco.

Peavy becomes the fourth Padres pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, and the first since Mark Davis won the award in 1989. Randy Jones (1976) and Gaylord Perry (1978) also captured the award.

"He was brilliant all year," said San Diego manager Bud Black, who played with a Cy Young winner in Kansas City (Bret Saberhagen) and coached one in Anaheim (Bartolo Colon).

The 2007 season certainly represented quite a turnaround for Peavy, who was troubled in 2006 by shoulder tendinitis. He lost 14 games that season, posted a 4.07 ERA and never found a level of comfort when pitching.

But a change in his offseason workout routine allowed Peavy to head to Spring Training with a healthy shoulder. He backed off workouts for his shoulder once the season began and spent a fair amount of time in the trainers room.

Peavy spent part of his conference call on Thursday praising the work of the team training staff.

2007 NL Cy Young Award Voting
Pitcher, Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Jake Peavy, SD 32     160
Brandon Webb, ARI   31 1 94
Brad Penny, LAD     14 14
Aaron Harang, CIN   1 7 10
Carlos Zambrano, CHC     3 3
Cole Hamels, PHI     2 2
John Smoltz, ATL     2 2
Jose Valverde, ARI     2 2
Jeff Francis, COL     1 1

"Those guys are the backbone of what any player on the San Diego Padres does," Peavy said. "Those guys see me every day. In-season, we modified the amount of work I did, especially my arm routine and shoulder. I feel very fortunate and blessed to be healthy."

Peavy bolted to a fast start in 2007, with six scoreless innings in the season opener in April against the Giants. There were few hiccups along the way, as Peavy won nine of his final 12 starts of the regular season with one loss and one no-decision.

"I don't really feel like I did anything different than in '04 and '05 other than have better luck and win games," Peavy said. "Obviously, health plays a factor in everything. It starts in the winter with working out."

Peavy certainly proved that his success wasn't just a result of his surroundings at roomy PETCO Park either. In fact, Peavy performed better on the road, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.57 ERA in 15 starts.

Peavy -- who allowed one or fewer runs in 18 of his 35 starts in 2007 -- is just the fourth player in Major League history to win two ERA titles before the age of 27.

"I think this award, the Cy Young Award, does truly validate that Jake Peavy is one of the elite pitchers, not only in the National League, but in baseball," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said.

To be sure, the 2007 was filled with highlights for Peavy.

On April 25 against Arizona, Peavy struck out a season-high 16 batters, coming one strikeout away from tying Tom Seaver's National League mark of 10 consecutive strikeouts. In a stretch in April and May, Peavy struck out 46 batters in a span of four starts.

On Aug. 27, Peavy became the franchise leader in career strikeouts when he struck out 11 in a 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

"It's special," Peavy said at the time. "Not many people, even these days, stay with an organization to do something like that. I feel privileged to be here long enough to do something like that. I tell people all the time, 'I'm proud to be a San Diego Padre.'"

Peavy won four starts in September to keep the Padres in the running for a spot in the playoffs. But he struggled over 6 1/3 innings on Oct. 1 in the Wild Card playoff against the Rockies, which was one of the few occasions when he was hit hard in 2007.

"He's got great stuff," Padres catcher Josh Bard said. "He's not trying to out-trick guys. I know it's hard to say sometimes when you see Jake and he's grunting and spitting, doing all that stuff, but he's really taken focus this year on how to execute guys and obviously he's got once-in-a-lifetime stuff.

"And when you're able to do that and throw the ball where you want to ... it's a pretty tough combination."

Peavy was paid the ultimate compliment by Towers, who was asked in September what he thought of his team's chances were in a big game with Peavy on the mound.

"If it's a deciding game," Towers said, "there's nobody in baseball I'd rather have on the mound than Jake Peavy."

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