Now, he walks among them.
One year after losing 15 games for the Boston Red Sox, Porcello won the American League Cy Young Award, edging Verlander by a narrow margin in voting that was announced Wednesday night by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Porcello, a 27-year-old right-hander, received only eight first-place votes compared to 14 for Verlander. But Porcello got 18 second-place votes and ranked among the top three on 28 of 30 ballots. Porcello finished with 137 points to Verlander's 132, marking the second-closest election since 1970 when voters were permitted to select more than one pitcher.
"It's unbelievable," Porcello told MLB Network as he was swarmed by family members.
Porcello went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA for the AL East champion Red Sox and joined Pedro Martinez (1999 and 2002) and Roger Clemens (1986) as the only pitchers in team history with at least 20 wins and fewer than five losses in one season. Clemens won the MVP and the Cy Young (the latter unanimously) in 1986; Martinez won the Cy Young unanimously in 1999 and finished second in the voting in 2002.
Porcello's bounce-back season mirrored that of the Red Sox, who went from worst to first in the AL East. The now eight-year veteran rebounded from the worst season of his career last year to have the best season of his career. The major league leader in wins this season, Porcello also led the AL in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.91) in his second season in Boston. He was also second in the AL in WHIP (1.01), fielding independent pitching (3.40), fourth in innings pitched (223) and opponent OPS (.635), and fifth in ERA (3.15) and WAR (5.0).
He is just the fifth AL pitcher to win 22 or more games in a season since 2000. The last AL pitcher to win at least 22 games is Verlander, who won 24 during his Cy Young and AL MVP season of 2011.