Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was presented with his 2020 National League Cy Young Award during pregame ceremonies Tuesday evening by Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson.
Bauer led the National League in 2020 with a 1.73 ERA, opponents’ batting average (.159) and hits per nine innings (5.1) in his lone full season with Cincinnati. He was second in strikeouts with 100 and strikeouts per nine innings (12.3). He went 5-4 with a league-leading two shutouts and two complete games.
“I don’t know you could have a better season than he had last year really in every way,” Reds manager David Bell told reporters on a Zoom call Monday.
Bauer received 27 of the 30 first-place votes in voting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, with the other three voters giving him their second-place votes for 201 voting points.
Yu Darvish, then with the Chicago Cubs, finished second, receiving the other three first-place votes and 123 points.
Bauer became the first Cincinnati pitcher to win a Cy Young Award after five had finished second.
The award has been presented annually since 1956 when it went to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. Separate awards for each league began in 1967.
Scheduling the presentation during the Reds’ lone regular-season series at Dodger Stadium in 2021 was “a collaborative thing,” said Bauer.
“When we looked at the schedule and they were coming at the end of the month it just kind of made sense,” Bauer said.
Bauer’s Cy Young Award-winning season came after he went 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA in 2019 when he began the season with the Cleveland Indians and was traded to Cincinnati on July 31, 2019 part of a three-team trade that also involved the San Diego Padres and included former Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig being dealt from the Reds to Cleveland.
Bauer said injuries “left him behind the eight ball the entire time” in 2019. He partially tore two ligaments in an ankle in his fourth start and “had a little back thing that flared up towards the end of the year,” Bauer said.
“In 2020 I was healthy,” Bauer said. “That was the biggest thing.”
Bauer said it “was huge” being coached by Johnson and assistant pitching coach Caleb Cotham, “people that I had been friends with for a long time that I communicated really well with and had a history with.”
“The information was good, the friendship was good, the mentorship and the leadership was great,” Bauer said. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a culture around you and having people around you that push you and also you know have your back and support you.”
Another key to Bauer was reducing walks. He walked an average of 3.5 batters per nine innings in 2019 and 2.1 in 2020.
“I made it easier on myself to have good starts,” Bauer said.
Winning a Cy Young Award fulfills a longtime goal for Bauer, which he reminded himself of by putting a picture of Hall of Famer Jim Palmer with one of the three American League Cy Young Awards he won in the 1970s on his cellphone background 10 years ago.
“Ten years of hard work and studying and time,” said Bauer, a former UCLA and Hart High School standout who signed a three-year contract with the Dodgers on Feb. 11 worth $102 million.
“A lot of really bad games, a lot of tough learning experiences, but when I go take a picture of it here in a second and change my phone background, it’ll be a pretty cool moment.”