NEW YORK (AP) — Max Scherzer did most everything on the mound this season — led the majors in wins, started the All-Star game, helped put his team in the playoffs.
Now, the newly minted AL Cy Young Award winner said he will “wait and see” whether he’s returning to the Detroit Tigers next year.
Scherzer went 21-3 and was an easy pick Wednesday as the American League’s top pitcher, drawing 28 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers was second, marking the highest finish by a Japanese-born pitcher in Cy Young voting. Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma came in third.
“It was an honor to be a finalist for the American League Cy Young Award,” Darvish said in a statement. “Both Max Scherzer and Hisashi Iwakuma had tremendous seasons. Max is a very deserving winner.”
Texas is the only AL team that’s never won a Cy Young Award.
Before Darvish and Iwakuma, the highest Cy Young finishes for Japanese pitchers had been fourth place, by Hideo Nomo in the NL in 1995 and 1996, and by Daisuke Matsuzaka in the AL in 2008.
“It is such an honor to be one of the finalists for the best award as a pitcher,” Iwakuma said in a statement before the voting totals were released. “I had never thought I would become a finalist here in the U.S., so this is very special to me and is a big surprise.”
Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL Cy Young Award for the second time in three seasons, coming within one vote of a unanimous selection.
Scherzer — like Kershaw — can become a free agent after the 2014 season, and the Tigers are trying to figure out if they can afford him along with all their other stars such as Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander. That’s prompted talk they might trade Scherzer before opening day.
“I love it here in Detroit,” Scherzer said on a conference call. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?”
“The business side will take care of itself,” he said. “It really depends on what Detroit wants to do.”
Scherzer and agent Scott Boras said they’re open to talking to the Tigers about an extension.
Scherzer lost only three times this season and was the lone 20-game winner in baseball. He ranked second in the majors with 240 strikeouts and was fifth in the AL with a 2.90 ERA.
The 29-year-old righty smiled and raised both arms Wednesday when the Cy Young results were announced.
“It’s unbelievable. It just vindicates everything I’ve done,” Scherzer said, acknowledging all the run support he received from Detroit’s powerful lineup probably helped his candidacy.
“I’ve been working so hard all these years to get better and better,” he added. “I think I took a big step forward in 2013.”
Scherzer won his first 13 decisions of the season and made the All-Star team for the first time.
He helped pitch the Tigers to their third straight AL Central title, joined in a deep rotation by Verlander, the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister.
Scherzer went 16-7 last year, then added a curveball to an impressive repertoire that already included a hard fastball, slider and changeup.
He beat Oakland as a starter and in relief during the AL division series, then went 0-1 in two starts against Boston in the AL championship series — he was pulled both times with the Tigers ahead.
Scherzer is distinctive for more than just his record. His eyes are different colors, with the right blue and left brown.
He’s also unusual for another reason: He’s made 174 regular-season and postseason starts for Detroit and Arizona, yet has never pitched a complete game.
Scherzer threw eight innings on seven occasions this year, and sometimes was taken out with a big lead. His big strikeout totals tend to run up his pitch counts, and he said he wants to be more efficient in the future.
And maybe even pitch a complete game.
“It is definitely something I want to achieve,” he said. “To throw a complete game, you have to have the right context of the game.”
Darvish led the majors with 277 strikeouts and went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA. Iwakuma was 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts for the Mariners.
Sanchez was fourth and Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox was fifth. They each got a first-place vote.
Kershaw won his second prize as the National League’s best pitcher after posting a 1.83 ERA — lowest in the majors in 13 years.
“This is such a cool thing. I can’t even explain what it means to me,” he said in an interview on MLB Network. “It really is a huge honor.”
The 25-year-old lefty with a big-breaking curve drew 29 of 30 first-place votes. Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals was picked first on one ballot and finished second.
Kershaw went 16-9 and topped the NL with 232 strikeouts. He also won the Cy Young Award in 2011 and finished second last year to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Darvish gets a $200,000 bonus and a $1 million raise to $11 million next season. Wainwright gets a $100,000 bonus and Sale gets $60,000 for finishing fifth.
The AL and NL Most Valuable Player awards will be presented Thursday.
AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
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