Despite missing all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John Surgery, Lackey put together one of the best seasons of his 11-year major league career this past year. He finished second on the team with 189.1 innings pitched and ranked seventh in the AL with over four strikeouts per walks (161 SO/40 BB). The former All-Star overcame a missed season and also came back from 2011, when, pitching through injury, he was saddled with a 6.41 ERA while making 28 starts before undergoing offseason surgery.
The Red Sox began the award in 1990 to perpetuate the memory of Tony C., who had died that February following an eight-year struggle to come back from a massive heart attack that left him severely handicapped.
Lackey received six first-place votes and 35 points in the voting while Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Brandon McCarthy had 33 points, and Marlins rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez had 17 points. Left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir (Indians) and designated hitter Victor Martinez (Tigers) also received votes.
Past winners include: Jim Eisenreich (1990), Dickie Thon (1991), Jim Abbott (1992), Bo Jackson (1993), Mark Leiter (1994), Scott Radinsky (1995), Curtis Pride (1996), Eric Davis (1997), Bret Saberhagen (1998), Mike Lowell (1999), Kent Mercker and Tony Saunders (2000), Graeme Lloyd and Jason Johnson (2001), Jose Rijo (2002), Jim Mecir (2003), Dewon Brazelton (2004), Aaron Cook (2005), Freddy Sanchez (2006), Jon Lester (2007), Rocco Baldelli (2008), Chris Carpenter (2009), Joaquin Benoit (2010), Tony Campana (2011), and R.A. Dickey (2012).
Tony C. became the youngest player (at age 20) to lead his league in home runs when he hit 32 in 1965, and the youngest in American League history to reach 100 homers (22 years, 197 days). His promising career was tragically cut short when he was hit in the face by a pitch at Fenway Park on August 18, 1967. He missed all of 1968, made an inspiring comeback in 1969, and was traded to the California Angels after the 1970 season. Tony played one year with the Angels and then made another comeback with the Red Sox in 1975, his final major league season.