Lee earns top pitching honors
Peers, Sporting News recognize pitcher after dominant season
CLEVELAND -- If you can't hit him, vote for him.That was the mentality of Major League players voting in the 2008 Players Choice Awards and The Sporting News' annual MLB awards ballot, and the vast majority, when asked to name the best pitcher in the American League this season, cast their vote for Cliff Lee. On Monday, Lee was named the Outstanding Pitcher in the AL by the MLB Players Association as well as the AL Pitcher of the Year by the Sporting News. Other finalists for the MLBPA honor were the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay and the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez. Next month, it's expected to be revealed that Cy Young voters have followed suit and given Lee the game's most prestigious pitching prize. In the meantime, Lee can add Monday's honors to the AL Comeback Player of the Year award he won earlier this offseason. A year ago, former Tribe ace CC Sabathia won the same awards from the MLBPA and the Sporting News. Lee earned the respect of his peers by going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, one season after a humbling demotion to Triple-A Buffalo. His win total was the most in the Majors, and his ERA mark was the best in the AL. The left-handed Lee worked a career-high 223 1/3 innings, allowing just 34 walks and striking out 170 batters. He was also the AL's starting pitcher in the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. "It's definitely been a good year for me, individually," Lee said at season's end. "I would have liked it better if it was a good year for the team. But it feels good to know I was successful and gave the team a chance to win. Except for a couple outings, I did that every time I pitched." The Giants' Tim Lincecum, who went 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA and led the Majors with 265 strikeouts, was recognized as the best pitcher in the NL by the Players Association and The Sporting News. The Sporting News surveyed 314 players for its awards ballot, and the full results will be in this week's issue of the magazine.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.