NEW YORK - C.C. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday, beating out several worthy contenders by a comfortable margin and becoming the first Cleveland pitcher in 35 years to earn the honor.
The Indians ace received 19 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 119 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Boston's Josh Beckett was second with eight first-place votes and 86 points, while John Lackey of the Los Angeles Angels got the other first-place vote and came in third. Cleveland's Fausto Carmona was fourth.
"I was excited. My family and everybody were around," Sabathia said on a conference call from his home in California. "I was surprised. Beckett had a great year and an even better postseason."
Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts, pitching a major league-high 241 innings. Beckett (20-7) became the only big league pitcher to win 20 games since 2005, compiling a 3.27 ERA in 200 2-3 innings. Lackey led the AL in ERA at 3.01, going 19-9 and tossing 224 innings. Carmona was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA.
Voting took place before the postseason, when Sabathia struggled while Beckett pitched the Red Sox to a World Series championship with a string of dominant outings.
"I did look at a few numbers," Sabathia said. "I definitely thought that Beckett - it could have went either way. I'm just happy and thankful that it went my way."
The only other Cleveland pitcher to win the award was Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1972. Now that he has one, Sabathia plans to display his trophy prominently at home.
"I'll probably keep it out. I'm sitting in my office right now, I'm looking for a spot. I'll probably put it right here," he said.
Sabathia is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985 - and the first in the AL since Oakland's Vida Blue in 1971.
"That's awesome to be mentioned with him," said Sabathia, adding that he attended a recent meeting designed to foster ideas for how to generate more interest in baseball among black kids.
While the top four Cy Young candidates had similar statistics, Sabathia's stamina apparently set him apart. After being sidelined by injuries the previous two seasons, the 6-foot-7, 290-pound left-hander stayed healthy all year and made 34 starts to Beckett's 30. That helped account for their wide gap in innings pitched.
The 27-year-old Sabathia also walked only 37 batters, giving him a remarkable strikeout-to-walk ratio that took pressure off his defense all season. Beckett had 194 strikeouts and 40 walks.
"I think just keeping down the walks," Sabathia said, "being able to go deep in the games, I think was the biggest deal in helping me win this."
If balloting had included their October results, however, the outcome might have been different. Beckett beat Sabathia twice in the AL championship series and went 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four postseason starts, striking out 35 and walking two. Sabathia was 1-2 with an 8.80 ERA and 13 walks in three playoff outings.
"The first two I can definitely say I was trying to do too much," Sabathia said. "Just trying to make perfect pitches.
"I can't really say I was tired in the postseason," he added. "My arm felt fine. ... The velocity was there."
Sabathia is entering the final season of his contract with the Indians, who are preparing to offer the lefty a long-term deal this winter. Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro would like to have his ace locked up before spring training starts in February.
Sabathia, picked by Cleveland in the first round of the 1998 draft, has made it clear he'd like to stay with the Indians - for the right price.
Beckett gets $100,000 for finishing second, and his 2010 base salary increases $100,000 to $12.1 million. Lackey earns $75,000 for coming in third, and his 2009 base salary goes up $500,000 to $10 million.
AL and NL Manager of the Year will be announced Wednesday and then the NL Cy Young Award on Thursday, with San Diego ace Jake Peavy considered the favorite.
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Milwaukee third baseman Ryan Braun won the Rookie of the Year awards Monday.