1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Why you won’t find Blake Snell’s Cy Young award at his house

There’s no looking back at 2018 for the Rays ace, including — and specifically — the plaque he received as the AL’s best pitcher.
Blake Snell delivers a pitch during a game against the Orioles in September at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2018)]
Published Feb. 28
Updated Mar. 1

PORT CHARLOTTE — The 2018 American League Cy Young Award plaque is mounted proudly on the wall right in the front room of the house outside Seattle.

Dave Snell’s house.

Blake Snell gave it to his dad to display, in part because of the huge role he played in guiding the dynamic Rays lefty on the way to his breakthrough season. But even more so because Blake had no use for it, amid the four video-game screens, Ken Griffey Jr. painting and Felix Hernandez jersey on the walls at his place 10 miles away.

“I don’t want it,’’ Snell said. “I’m like, ‘Cool, that was 2018.’ But it’s 2019. … I don’t see any significance in looking at it.’’

Don’t get that twisted.

Winning the award, especially over bigger-name candidates he respects greatly — such as Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber — couldn’t have meant more to Snell at the time.

But now, as he made his eagerly awaited spring debut with a solid one-inning, 16-pitch outing Thursday night to start the new season, it couldn’t mean less.

“You go to my house, there’s no awards on the wall. They’re all at my dad’s house,’’ Snell said. “I don’t want to look at them. I don’t need to look at them. I don’t need to see them. That’s in the past. That’s what happened then. I’ve got to focus on what I want to do for the present as much as the future.

“That’s what motivates me. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what makes me evolve as a better pitcher every year is that I see that there is so much potential. I see how great I can really be. That’s why I get excited to play every day. That’s why I’m excited to be here, because it’s always an opportunity to get better.’’

Join our Rays Fever Facebook group for conversation, polls, story links and more

As much as Snell, 26, plays around — streaming his Fortnite video games nightly; bouncing around the clubhouse smashing on the ping-pong table, tossing cornhole bags, grabbing the iPad to play his tunes (Love Me, by Fia, in heavy rotation) — he stood still long enough the other day to reveal a mature perspective on handling his success.

“I just remember that I sucked two years ago and I remember how I felt and I don’t ever want to feel that way, and that’s kind of the way I carry myself,’’ Snell said. "I just know if you succeed and you buy into that, you’re going to be pretty crappy the next year because you didn’t put the work in you’re supposed to, you didn’t develop, you didn’t continue to grow.

“With my mindset being I just want to get better and believing that I just want to get better, whatever you win doesn’t matter. My whole focal point is, ‘I want to be the best me I can be.’ And by saying, 'Oh, last year was good,’ and buying into that is not going to allow me to be the best me I can be. It’s going to allow me to be really just an average player.’’

Snell wasn’t even average when he first came up as a touted prospect in 2016, and through much of 2017, which included two demotions back to the minors, before a strong 10-start finish.

And, even with the fame and glory of last season, he insists he hasn’t forgotten how miserable of a time that was.

“I remember the feelings that I felt,’’ he said. “I remember the way teammates treated me. It’s not like they treated me bad, but it was like I was letting the team down. And to feel that and go home and really just think about that, it was terrible.

“It was the worst feeling I ever felt. To be able to have all the talent, to believe in my talent, and just continue to fail and continue to have teammates look at me differently, it’s what fuels me today. Because I don’t ever want to feel that. I don’t ever want to experience that.’’

The perspective of time, and the ensuing success, has allowed Snell to find the good in all that bad, recognizing the trouble he had adjusting to finally reaching the goal of the big leagues, the trial and error along the way, needing time to sort it all out. “I just had to find my way,’’ Snell said.

He had help, of course, always making a point to thank his dad and Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder, who worked with him, and counseled him, as both advanced through the minors.

But ultimately it was on Snell.

“By failing and failing and failing, it just made me learn more and more and more, helped me get more comfortable, helped me get more confident with where I am today,’’ he said. “I wouldn’t be who I am without failing as much as I did. … That’s the only way I can have ’18.’’

If he doesn’t want to look admiringly at the award on his wall, he can at least look in the mirror.

Contact Marc Topkin at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Read more:

Baseball is coming, with Night King, Ice Dragon now batting for Rays

Austin Meadows can hit, but improving defense key to meeting five-tool tag

What can he do for an encore? Rays’ Joey Wendle has a plan

First base boot camp now in session for Rays


  1. FILE - In this July 24, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during a baseball game in Houston. Verlander has been awarded his second AL Cy Young Award. MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    The Mets’ Jacob deGrom wins the NL award for the second straight year.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  3. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.
  4. Flanked by his mother, Michelle Alonso, left, father Peter Alonso (blue shirt, standing), girlfriend Haley Walsh, right, and friends, New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, 24, reacts as he finds out he has won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday at his home in Tampa.  Alonso, a Plant High graduate, made a grand entrance to the big leagues, hitting a major-league rookie and team-record 53 home runs for the Mets. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The easiest part of the day for the travel-weary first baseman may have been receiving the prestigious award.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash speaks at a news conference before an Oct. 1 American League wild-card game practice in Oakland, Calif. JEFF CHIU  |  AP
    Marc Topkin: The Twins Rocco Baldelli and Yankees Aaron Boone are the other two finalists for the hard-to-define award.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) is showered with sunflower seeds after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Plant High and Florida star Pete Alonso a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday
  7. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, says of the general manager meetings, which start this week, "We’d love to find a way to score a lot more runs without sacrificing run prevention.'' DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Erik Neander says 2019 success provides “a stronger starting point” than they have had in a while. Plus, rumblings.
  8. Manager Kevin Cash has led the Rays to back-to-back seasons of 90 or more victories. He finished third in the American League Manager of the Year voting in 2018 and is one of three finalists again this year with the winner being announced on Tuesday. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano: His profile is as low as Tampa Bay’s payroll, but AL Manager of the Year candidate Kevin Cash consistently gets the most out of the Rays.
  9. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro (33) talks to umpire Bruce Dreckman at the bottom of the fourth inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. 
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The other finalists, per a report, are Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) pumps his fist while walking onto the field just prior to taking on the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Charlie Morton is in the top 3 for the Cy Young Award and Brandon Lowe for Rookie of the Year honors as well.