2002 CY YOUNG AWARD WHICH ROAD RUNNER WINS?

Michael Fauntleroy spent two high draft picks in the 2001 Re-Modification draft on Randy Johnson, and Curt Schilling.  Johnson went fifth, and Schilling was selected eighth overall, and Fauntleroy couldn’t be more satisfied with the return on his investment.

     The New River Road Runners, one of the Mid-West Baseball League original franchises had two dominating starters in 2002.  One of them came away with the National Leagues Cy Young Award.  For National League hitters, the choice of facing  Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling is a matter of picking your poison. When you get right down to it, it doesn’t matter because either one is deadly to the batting average, and very scary to face.  The two New River aces made it a tough choice for NL Cy Young Award voters. Both pitchers enjoyed spectacular years in 2002 , and while there were other compelling candidates, including Los Angeles Roger Clemens who was shooting for his third Cy Young, and Barry Zito of the Clovis Wheat Kings, one of the New River aces walked away with the award.

Curt Schilling, RHP,
Road Runners:  21-7   2.41
Twenty-one game winner seemingly was the top choice. He struck out a league leading 338 batters, with a strike out ratio of 11.17 per 9 innings. Schilling hasn’t won the award, which might work in his favor this time.
Randy Johnson, LHP,
Road Runners:  17 -9   2.32
Numbers are second-to-none, and if not for Schilling, would seem to be a shoo-in for a second consecutive Cy Young Award . Johnson has walked more than twice as many batters than Schilling in as many starts, but he has more strikeouts.

     “They’ve both been outstanding,” teammate Larry Walker said. “Obviously both are deserving. Who knows? Maybe they could have shared it (the award). That might be the fairest way to do it.”

     Schilling and Johnson’s runaway year had overshadowed the stellar seasons of other notable performers such as Clemens, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who is 22-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 35 starts for the N.L. West Champion Riots. Another candidate for the award was Barry Zito, a 19 game winner for N.L. Wild Card Winner Clovis, who was looking for his first Cy Young Award.  Zito finished the year at 19-7 with a 2.12

Schilling had never won a Cy Young Award, which might have made him a sentimental favorite. Johnson had won before, in 2001 with the Tempe Tempers.  But was that the deciding factor in the final voting of the award?

Don’t ask New River manager  Fauntleroy to settle the debate.  “I think both were deserving, their records spoke for themselves,” he said.

     The question was, which of the two should pitchers should win the award?

Both won at least 17 games, (Johnson 17 – Schilling 21) and a comparison of their statistics reveals very little difference between the numbers posted by the lefty Johnson and the right-handed Schilling. Johnson was 17-9 with a 2.32 ERA in 275.2 innings. Schilling is 21-7 with a 2.41 ERA in 272.1 innings. Johnson had walked 68, compared to only 52 for Schilling. But Schilling had nine  complete games and three shutouts, compared to six and one, respectively, for Johnson. Schilling also lead in strikeouts, 338 to 336.

    Schilling admitted, however, that he never thought much about the Cy Young Award during the years campaign, even with the hoopla surrounding the duel between Johnson and him for the honor.  “That would be kind of taking away from my main objective,” said Schilling. “My main goal is to be consistent when I go out from an individual standpoint and obviously put us in a position every time I go out to win a ballgame, and in the big picture get to the World Series. This has come from maintaining consistency, hard work and dedication, and my teammates have been supportive offensively and defensively and in the bullpen”

     In the end Curt Schilling didn’t have to share this award with Randy Johnson. Schilling won his first National League Cy Young Award, receiving 9 of 12  first-place votes from a panel of the National Leagues Mid-West Baseball League owners.

‘‘I know Johnson happy for me,’’ Schilling said. ‘‘I talked to him earlier today. He was calling me today to thank me for pushing him to the next level, something we do to each other.  I thought that was the most flattering comment I’ve received to this point in my career.’’

I think our fans, all of us, are really loving it now,” Fauntleroy said, “and that is that twice every five days, Schilling and Johnson go out there, all of us appreciate that we’re seeing two of the great pitchers ever in the Mid-West Baseball League.”

     “The talk should be more about Schilling winning it than me losing it. From opening day to the finish, I feel we had the most consistent seasons of any two pitchers in the history of the Mid-West Baseball League,” Johnson said on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN radio. “Was it good enough to win the Cy Young award? Only for one of us.”

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