NEW YORK (AP) — Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Koji Uehara teamed up for an exceptionally strong showing by Japanese pitchers in the American League Cy Young Award voting.
Darvish of the Texas Rangers was second and Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners came in third Wednesday, marking the highest finishes for Japanese pitchers in any Cy Young competition. Uehara of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox was seventh.
Detroit ace Max Scherzer won the award, a former Fort Worth Cats great
“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.”
“I would like to thank my teammates, the entire Texas Rangers organization, and most of all, the fans, for their ongoing support. I look forward to the 2014 season and helping my team to achieve our goal: to bring a World Series championship to Texas,” he said.
Darvish led the majors with 277 strikeouts. He went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA.
Until this year, the top 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.
Takashi Saito, eighth in the 2006 NL balloting, and Darvish, who finished ninth last year, were the only other Japanese pitchers to receive Cy Young votes until this season.
Iwakuma was 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 185 strikeouts for the Mariners.
“It is such an honor to be one of the finalists for the best award as a pitcher. 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,” Iwakuma recently said in a statement.
Iwakuma said he’s gradually started to prepare himself for the 2014 season. Next week, he plans to take part in a baseball clinic in Sendai and the region of Japan that was devastated in 2011 by a tsunami and earthquake.
“During this time of the year, I like to take my time to give back to the city I played for that supported me for many years and give spirit to the people and kids that dream about baseball,” he said.
Uehara was the MVP of the AL championship series against Detroit. He closed out the clinching Game 6 of the World Series against St. Louis.
Uehara became Boston’s closer only after injuries to other candidates. He went 4-1 with 21 saves and a 1.09 ERA in the regular season and was 1-1 with seven saves and a 0.66 ERA in the postseason.
The right-hander is among a few Japanese players to win major postseason awards in the U.S. major leagues. Hideki Matsui was the MVP of the 2009 World Series for the New York Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki was the 2001 AL MVP for the Mariners.
This week’s voting came as many major league teams in the United States prepare to make bids for Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 for the Rakuten Eagles in the regular season and then closed out the clinching Game 7 of the Japan Series last weekend.