James Shields called 2011 the year of the pitcher, and with that in mind, the Rays right-hander is tickled to have finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting behind unanimous winner Justin Verlander of the Tigers and runner-up Jared Weaver of the Angels.
"To be a part of that is really special," said Shields, whose 2012 salary increased to $8 million because of a $500,000 incentive clause tied to a top-five finish in the Cy Young voting.
Verlander, who led the major leagues in wins (24), ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (250), was first on all 28 ballots cast by the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, becoming the first unanimous winner in the American League since Johan Santana in 2006.
"I know how hard it is to pitch in the major leagues. To see the numbers (Verlander) put up was unbelievable," Shields said. "Obviously, you want to win the Cy Young, but if you’re going to lose, it’s good to lose to a guy like him, who had that kind of year. It’s well-deserving."
Finishing third in the Cy Young vote was a nice ending to Shields’ bounce-back season. After going 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 2010, Shields was 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA, a major league-high 11 complete games and four shutouts, which were tied for the most in the American League.
"After the year I had (in 2010) and how hard I worked in the offseason and how hard I worked during the season, to be third is pretty special," he said.
David Price finished second in the Cy Young voting after the 2010 season. Jeremy Hellickson was named the American League rookie of the year Monday.
"I think it really shows what kind of pitching staff we have," Shields said. "Not only do we have one guy, we have a lot of guys. We have a couple of guys on our staff who can chase (the Cy Young Award) again next year."