There’s no one left alive who saw the great Cy Young pitch. Young, whose name is synonymous with pitching greatness thanks to the MLB Award that bears his name, threw his last pro pitch in October of 1911. More than a century later Young’s record of 511 career wins seems as unassailable as any record in sports. He’ll probably hold onto the other records he has too: most innings pitched, most games started, and most complete games. In the most striking example of how much baseball has changed since Cy Young’s day, Young completed all but 66 of the 815 games he started. Any manager subjecting, say, Clayton Kershaw to that kind of work would be quickly fired.
Comparisons between players in eras so far apart are futile but fun. Fun to look at how Kershaw, for instance — a leading candidate for this year’s NL Cy Young Award — looks against the sepia stats of the original Cy Young. So far this year here’s how a few of Kershaw’s stats stack up against Cy Young’s in 1901, arguably his best season.
Clayton Kershaw 16; Cy Young 33
Clayton Kershaw 32; Cy Young 41
Clayton Kershaw 4; Cy Young 38
Clayton Kershaw 3; Cy Young 5
Clayton Kershaw 229; Cy Young 371.1
Clayton Kershaw 294; Cy Young 158