The constant quest for perfection drove Cliff Lee to great feats throughout 2008.
"Even if I had won every start, I don't know if I'd be satisfied," he said near the season's end. "There's always something you can do better. I don't know how to explain it other than that. It's just the way I am, I guess."
But even Lee has to be satisfied with what took place Thursday, when the Baseball Writers' Association of America named him the American League Cy Young Award winner.
The honor was well-deserved. Lee led the AL in wins with a 22-3 record and in ERA with a 2.54 mark, posted the third-highest winning percentage (.880) for a 20-game winner in baseball history and became the Tribe's first 20-game winner since Gaylord Perry in 1974. The voters took notice. Lee received 24 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 132 points in balloting. He beat out the Jays' Roy Halladay, who finished second with 74 votes.
Lee followed the trail of former teammate and fellow left-hander CC Sabathia, who, one year ago, became the Indians' first Cy Young winner since Perry in 1972. Lee, Sabathia and Perry are the only Tribe pitchers to win the prestigious award.
Lee captured his in dramatic fashion, having been banished to the Minor Leagues and left off the Indians' playoff roster in '07. He was 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in that '07 season, which was marred by a right abdominal strain he suffered in Spring Training.
In Spring Training of this year, Lee had to fight for a spot on the Tribe's roster. Because of the $3.75 million Lee was set to make, it was generally assumed he was the front-runner to beat out young left-handers Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers, but the Indians nonetheless wanted him to earn the job.
Lee earned it all right. He looked confident and in command of all his pitches in spring camp, and the fifth starter's job was his.
But Lee wouldn't be the Tribe's fifth starter for long. He began the season 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA in his first six starts and never looked back.