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OC Register: Laguna Hills High product Shane Bieber wins AL Cy Young unanimously


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As the Cleveland Indians kept trading pitchers around him, Shane Bieber continued to move up the depth chart.

All the way to the top of the American League.

Bieber, a product of Laguna Hills High, was the unanimous selection as the American League Cy Young Award winner on Wednesday.

It was the 10th time an American League pitcher had won the Cy Young unanimously, none since Justin Verlander did it in 2011. There have been 14 unanimous Cy Young winners in the National League, most recently the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in 2014.

“The more I reflect on it, the more I realize how special that is, and what an honor it is, and how much I appreciate everybody for making that happen,” Bieber said of the unanimous selection.

Bieber moved to the top of the rotation for a team that in a 13-month span traded away Trevor Bauer (who won the NL Cy Young), Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger.

Bieber, 25, said he appreciated that the Indians thought enough of him that they felt they could afford to move those other pitchers.

“Them showing me they have enough confidence in me allowed me to grow as a person and a ballplayer,” Bieber said.

Using a versatile repertoire that includes a looping curveball and a wipeout slider, Bieber went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA in 12 starts for the Indians, a performance that also might net him a top-10 finish in the MVP voting when that is announced on Thursday.

He led MLB in ERA and strikeouts, with 122 strikeouts in just 77-1/3 inning during the pandemic-shortened season, and tied the Chicago Cubs’ Yu Darvish for the most wins. Bieber became the second player in franchise history to win the pitching AL Triple Crown, joining Hall of Famer Bob Feller in 1940. He also was the first pitcher to lead the majors in all three categories since Johan Santana did it for Minnesota in 2006.

Bieber, who played at UC Santa Barbara after Laguna Hills, was the Indians’ fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft. He made his big league debut in 2018 and went 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA. But he really started to show off his potential in 2019, his first full season. He won the MVP award at the All-Star Game, which was held in Cleveland, and finished with 15 wins and a 3.28 ERA.

“I was kind of a late bloomer in high school, so I feel like I had to learn how to pitch and let my stuff come to me,” Bieber said last week when he was announced as a Cy Young finalist. “Continue to work hard, continue to develop in the latter half of high school and going into college, was to able some velocity and kind of refine my game.

“But in terms of development, I wouldn’t trade my process for anything. I felt like my early years learning how to pitch, learning how to change speeds and locate the ball has paid dividends in the long run.”

The two pitchers who finished immediately behind Bieber in this year’s Cy Young race came from the Dodgers.

Kenta Maeda of the Minnesota Twins finished second in his first year in the American League after the Dodgers traded him as part of the three-way Mookie Betts deal. Maeda was 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings in Minnesota in 2020.

Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Toronto Blue Jays finished third. Ryu signed a four-year, $80-million deal with Toronto as a free agent after pitching for the Dodgers from 2013-19. Ryu was 5-2 with a 3.01 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings with Toronto.

Gerrit Cole, who turned down offers of more than $280 million from the Dodgers and Angels last winter to sign for $324 million with the Yankees, finished fourth.

Angels right-hander Dylan Bundy finished ninth, collecting one third-place vote and two fifth-place votes. Two of his three votes came from Angels beat writers. Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com picked Bundy third and Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic listed him fifth. Bundy’s other vote came from T.R. Sullivan, who covers the Texas Rangers for MLB.com.

Bundy turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises in a disappointing Angels season, posting a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts.

imageedit_1_9435338922.jpg?fit=620%2C999
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber, a former Laguna Hills High standout, won the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

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