First awarded in 1956, the Cy Young has been awarded annually to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. One representative from the American League and National League make up the pair of honorees.
With the presentation of the 2019 Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Nov. 13, we've accumulated a list below of 55 former MLB Cy Young Award winners who once played college baseball for current NCAA institutions (including repeat winners). We also picked a Cy Young standout from each decade to be featured in a brief summary of their college careers.
This decade's decisions were most excrutiating due to the influx of talent that journeyed from college to Major League Baseball. For example, this year's AL winner Justin Verlander and the 2012 NL winner R.A. Dickey were close runner-ups.
Sandy Koufax | Cincinnati | 3x Cy Young winner ('63, '65, '66)
One season at the University of Cincinnati was all it took for the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign Sandy Koufax.
He was not the same pitcher at that point. Cincinnati prepped him for professional ball by teaching him pitch control. And when his fastball and curveball reached refinement, the Koufax of MLB lore appeared.
"All he needed was somebody to teach him control. A kid his age throwing 90 miles an hour – this was 1954 we were talking about. He was strong. He wasn't at all cocky — just a nice guy," Cincinnati teammate Ike Misali said of Koufax in 2014.
Originally, the southpaw enrolled as a liberal arts major with the intention of transferring to the school of architecture. Walking on to the basketball team was the next priority. One semester later, he joined the baseball team. He found his groove in his lone season as a Bearcat, going 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA and leading the team with 51 strikeouts in 32 innings.
Dan Gilbert, his catcher at Cincinnati, reveled in 2014 at how unbelievable the break on his curveball was, "but the blazing fastball I will never forget. You couldn't hit it." His battery mate would place a sponge inside his catcher's mitt to help absorb any residual shock from the 90-plus miles per hour fastball.
Spending all 12 seasons of his career with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, the eventual first ballot Hall of Famer pitched four no-hitters and a perfect game, and was a three-time Triple Crown winner, five-time National League ERA leader and two-time World Series MVP — one of the greatest to ever man the mound.
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Honorable mention: Bob Gibson | Creighton | 2x Cy Young winner ('68, '70)
Two star basketball and baseball athletes were strong contenders at the pitching position in the 1960s, and Bob Gibson continued the theme with his standout performances at both posts while at Creighton. Sadly, his college baseball stats have been lost, according to the university. But his basketball numbers remain intact, including several school records. Gibson currently ranks 21st in career points (1,272) and top-five in free throws made (418), free throw attempts (575) and scoring average (20.19 points per game).
"The steppingstone to the success I had as a professional was getting the opportunity to go to Creighton University," Bob Gibson told the Omaha World-Herald.
Randy Jones | Chapman | '76 Cy Young Award winner
Randy Jones' No. 10 was retired by Chapman in 1985 after an impressive college career that included being a four-year letter winner (1969-72). In 1970 and '72 he was the Panthers' most valuable pitcher, earning All-American honors as a senior and finishing runner-up at the NCAA Far West Regionals.
In 1972, his 155 strikeouts set a single-season school record. His 311 career strikeouts is also best in Chapman history.
Honorable mention: Ron Guidry | Southwestern Louisiana | '78 Cy Young Award winner
Not many athletes have the ability to excel in their freshman year. But for some, that first season can set the tone for a future in pro ball, and Ron Guidry did just that in 1969. He put on one of the best performances in Gulf State Conference history, posting a 1.57 ERA and allowing just 10 earned run on 36 hits and 50 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He finished that season 5-1 and was a member of the second team All-Gulf State Conference.
Guidry finished 12-5 with a 2.03 ERA and 137 career strikeouts in his two-year stint at Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana).
Roger Clemens | Texas | 7x Cy Young Award winner ('86, '87, '91, '97, '98, '01, '04)
Seven Cy Young Awards is the most by any Major Leaguer in history. What led to Roger Clemen's spectacular career? It started at Texas where he dove in with a 1.99 ERA as a freshman in 1982. His astounding ERA and 12-2 record led the Longhorns to College World Series that year.
He led the Longhorns back to the College World Series in 1983, going 13-5 with a 3.04 ERA. Clemens proved himself a competitor and earned the starting role for Texas in the 1983 title game, earning the win over Alabama — and ultimately a reservation at the Texas Sports and Baseball Hall of Fame.
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Honorable mention: Mike Scott | Pepperdine | '86 Cy Young Award winner
The decision to place Mike Scott underneath Clemens was difficult. He captured the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year honor in 1974 and helped the Waves win three consecutive conference titles. He left campus as the school-record holder for career wins (26), strikeouts (232) and games started (42). He currently ranks fourth in ERA (2.10) and had a perfect game against Cal Lutheran on Feb. 17, 1976.
But Clemens' performance at the College World Series gave the edge to the former Longhorn.
Bob Welch | Eastern Michigan | '90 Cy Young Award winner
An appearance at the 1976 College World Series and a second-place finish to Arizona was the pinnacle of Bob Welch's college career at Eastern Michigan.
The whole season was like a dream for Welch. He threw a no-hitter at Central Michigan on April 24 and nearly one month to the day on May 23, he pitched a perfect game against the University of Detroit. After posting a 1.82 ERA and 111 strikeout season in 1976, he was named to the United States Federation team and was selected in the first round of the 1977 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His tenure would be the first and final time Eastern Michigan appeared in a CWS final.
Honorable mention: Doug Drabek | Houston | '90
Doug Drabek has a collegiate no-hitter to his name as well. In 1983, the right-hander threw the University of Houston's third no-hitter in program history — the cherry on top of a memorable season. He holds the Cougars' record for most career wins (27), helped by his 12 wins and .800 winning percentage in '83 — which are both the second-best records in their respective category in Houston history.
Tim Lincecum | Washington | 2x Cy Young Award winner ('08, '09)
The two-time Cy Young Award winner began his professional career right after reaching the elite mark in college. As a junior at Washington, he won the 2006 Golden Spikes Award, annually awarded to the best amateur baseball player.
His success quickly transferred over to the pros. In his first full year with the San Francisco Giants, he won the 2008 Cy Young Award. And then he won it again in 2009.
So let's look at that mind-numbing 2006 season for the Huskies: He posted a 1.94 ERA in 125.1 innings. His 199 strikeouts was the most of his college career, and his opponent's batting average of .173 was the lowest.
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Honorable mention: Barry Zito | UC Santa Barbara, Pierce, Southern California | '02 Cy Young Award winner
Transferring in college baseball is not uncommon, and Barry Zito twice took that route in his collegiate career. His first stop at UC Santa Barbara included Freshman All-American honors, paired with 125 strikeouts in 85.1 innings. As a sophomore, he transferred to Los Angeles Pierce College (NWAC) and posted a 2.62 ERA, before being named to the all-state and all-conference teams.
Southern California then entered the mix in 1999 as his final spring board toward MLB stardom. He was the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year as a Trojan and earned first-team All-American honors after going 12-3 with a 3.28 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 113.2 innings.
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David Price | Vanderbilt | '12 Cy Young Award winner
David Price perfected the dream for every college player with one of the most dazzling college careers in history. Among other accolades, he earned the Dick Howser Trophy, Brooks Wallace Awards, Golden Spikes Award and Co-National Player of the Year. Through 133.1 innings, he finished his final year in 2007 with a 2.63 ERA and 194 strikeouts — shattering Vanderbilt's previous single season record of 155. The Commodores were 16-1 in games he started that season.
As a first-year player in 2005, he was honored as a Freshman All-American after he went 2-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 69.1 innings.
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Max Scherzer | Missouri | 3x Cy Young Award winner (2013, '16, '17)
The three-year career of Max Scherzer at Missouri is a close second to Price's. Scherzer broke out as a sophomore, leading the Big 12 in ERA (1.86) and strikeouts (131) en route to becoming the conference's Pitcher of the Year.
Though his junior year was tormented by injuries, Scherzer still managed to lead Mizzou to win its first ever NCAA regional and paced the Big 12 with a 1.95 ERA.
Here is the full list of MLB Cy Young Award winners who played college baseball:
|1963||Sandy Koufax (NL)||Cincinnati||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1965||Sandy Koufax (NL)||Cincinnati||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1966||Sandy Koufax (NL)||Cincinnati||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1967||Jim Lonborg (AL)||Stanford||Boston Red Sox|
|1968||Bob Gibson (NL)||Creighton||St. Louis Cardinals|
|1969||Tom Seaver (NL)||Southern California||New York Mets|
|1970||Jim Perry (AL)||Campbell||Minnesota Twins|
|1970||Bob Gibson (NL)||Creighton||St. Louis Cardinals|
|1972||Gaylord Perry (AL)||Campbell||Cleveland Indians|
|1973||Tom Seaver (NL)||Southern California||New York Mets|
|1975||Tom Seaver (NL)||Southern California||New York Mets|
|1976||Randy Jones (NL)||Chapman||San Diego Padres|
|1978||Ron Guidry (AL)||Southwestern Louisiana||New York Yankees|
|1978||Gaylord Perry (NL)||Campbell||San Diego Padres|
|1979||Mike Flanagan (AL)||Massachusetts||Baltimore Orioles|
|1979||Bruce Sutter (NL)||Old Dominion||Chicago Cubs|
|1980||Steve Stone (AL)||Kent State||Baltimore Orioles|
|1982||Pete Vuckovich (AL)||Clarion||Milwaukee Brewers|
|1986||Roger Clemens (AL)||Texas||Boston Red Sox|
|1986||Mike Scott (NL)||Pepperdine||Houston Astros|
|1987||Roger Clemens (AL)||Texas||Boston Red Sox|
|1987||Steve Bedrosian (NL)||New Haven||Philadelphia Phillies|
|1988||Frank Viola (AL)||St. John's||Minnesota Twins|
|1988||Orel Hershiser (NL)||Bowling Green||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1990||Bob Welch (AL)||Eastern Michigan||Oakland Athletics|
|1990||Doug Drabek (NL)||Houston||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|1991||Roger Clemens (AL)||Texas||Boston Red Sox|
|1993||Jack McDowell (AL)||Stanford||Chicago White Sox|
|1995||Randy Johnson (AL)||Southern California||Seattle Mariners|
|1997||Roger Clemens (AL)||Texas||Toronto Blue Jays|
|1998||Roger Clemens (AL)||Texas||Toronto Blue Jays|
|1999||Randy Johnson (NL)||Southern California||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2000||Randy Johnson (NL)||Southern California||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2001||Roger Clemens (AL)||Texas||New York Yankees|
|2001||Randy Johnson (NL)||Southern California||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2002||Barry Zito (AL)||
UC Santa Barbara, Southern California
|2002||Randy Johnson (NL)||Southern California||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2004||Roger Clemens (NL)||Texas||Houston Astros|
|2006||Brandon Webb (NL)||Kentucky||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2008||Cliff Lee (AL)||Arkansas||Cleveland Indians|
|2008||Tim Lincecum (NL)||Washington||San Francisco Giants|
|2009||Tim Lincecum (NL)||Washington||San Francisco Giants|
|2011||Justin Verlander (AL)||Old Dominion||Detroit Tigers|
|2012||David Price (AL)||Vanderbilt||Tampa Bay Rays|
|2012||R.A. Dickey (NL)||Tennessee||New York Mets|
|2013||Max Scherzer (AL)||Missouri||Detroit Tigers|
|2014||Corey Kluber (AL)||Stetson||Cleveland Indians|
|2015||Dallas Keuchel (AL)||Arkansas||Houston Astros|
|2015||Jake Arrieta (NL)||TCU||Chicago Cubs|
|2016||Max Scherzer (NL)||Missouri||Washington Nationals|
|2017||Corey Kluber (AL)||Stetson||Cleveland Indians|
|2017||Max Scherzer (NL)||Missouri||Washington Nationals|
|2018||Jacob deGrom (NL)||Stetson||New York Mets|
|2019||Justin Verlander (NL)||Old Dominion||Detroit Tigers|
|2019||Jacob deGrom (NL)||Stetson||New York Mets|