NEW YORK - Jake Peavy has been one of the best pitchers in the National League for years. This season, he pulled away from the pack.
The San Diego Padres ace was an unanimous winner of the NL Cy Young Award on Thursday after leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts - pitching`s version of a Triple Crown.
"It was just one of those seasons where kind of everything came together," he said on a conference call.
Peavy received all 32 first-place votes and finished with 160 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers` Association of America. Arizona sinkerballer Brandon Webb, last year`s winner, was a distant runner-up with 94 points. He was listed second on 31 ballots and third on one.
"Obviously, I was elated. This is as big as it gets as far as individual awards," Peavy said. "Truly amazing. A very humbling day when you think about all my peers that take the mound every fifth day."
Peavy went 19-6 while topping the majors in ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240) for the Padres, who came within one win of their third consecutive playoff berth. He joined Roger Clemens as the only starting pitchers to win a Cy Young Award without tossing a complete game.
Clemens did it once in each league: 2001 with the New York Yankees (AL) and 2004 with Houston (NL).
"I can definitely get better. Our bullpen`s been so stinkin` good around here it`s hard to get deep in these games," Peavy said. "I`ve got a long way to go to be who I want to be."
It was the 12th time an NL pitcher has been an unanimous choice for the honor, the first since Arizona`s Randy Johnson in 2002. Peavy became the fourth San Diego pitcher to win the award, joining reliever Mark Davis (1989), Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry (1978) and lefty Randy Jones (1976).
Peavy had a chance to put the Padres in the postseason - and earn his 20th win - when he started the wild-card tiebreaker against Colorado. But the 26-year-old right-hander was ineffective at Coors Field, giving up six runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The Rockies rallied for three runs against career saves leader Trevor Hoffman in the 13th and won 9-8, then charged all the way to the World Series.
"That was a tough way to go. We were so close and had grinded it out for so long," Peavy said. "I really thought that this year`s team, if we got in the playoffs, could really make some noise."
Brad Penny of the Los Angeles Dodgers finished third in the voting. Cincinnati`s Aaron Harang was fourth and Chicago`s Carlos Zambrano came in fifth.
Peavy, the National League`s starter in the All-Star game, was the front-runner nearly all season. He consistently stymied opponents, allowing only 13 home runs in 34 starts. He gave up 169 hits and 68 walks in 223 1-3 innings.
Selected by San Diego in the 15th round of the 1999 draft, Peavy became the fifth different NL pitcher to take the prize since Johnson won four straight times from 1999-2002.
Webb was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA and 194 strikeouts, pitching an NL-best 236 1-3 innings. His streak of 42 scoreless innings helped the surprising Diamondbacks finish with the best record in the league (90-72).
Atlanta`s Tom Glavine in 1992 was the only other NL pitcher to finish second one year after winning the award.
A two-time All-Star, Peavy also won an ERA title in 2004 and a strikeout crown in 2005. His nasty stuff has made him one of baseball`s toughest assignments for years, but this season was his most impressive.
"I don`t really feel that I did anything different in â€˜04 or â€˜05, other than just had better luck to help win some games and obviously get some recognition for that," he said.
Peavy earned a $100,000 bonus for winning the award, and the price of San Diego`s 2009 club option increased by $3 million to $11 million.
He knows the kind of money he could command on the open market. Still, he said he`d like to work out a contract extension and stay with the Padres, though he doesn`t want to negotiate during the season.
"I think it can be distracting," Peavy said. "We`re either going to do it this offseason or we`ll address the issue next offseason.
"I`m really not worried about it," he added. "The team has given me financial security for the rest of this old Alabama boy`s life. ... I just want to be fair to the rest of my peers when I sign something."
The American League MVP will be announced Monday - with Alex Rodriguez considered a lock - followed Tuesday by NL MVP, which could be a close race.
Cleveland lefty C.C. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young Award on Tuesday.