Before having a career year in 2021, Robbie Ray was coming off a season in which he led the league in walks.
The Toronto Blue Jays lefty spent his offseason in the gym, tweaked his mechanics and went on to lead the league with 248 strikeouts. He was recognized for that turnaround on Wednesday by being named the winner of the American League Cy Young award.
Ray -- who went 13-7 and led the AL with a 2.84 ERA, 1.045 WHIP and 193.1 innings pitched - received 29 of 30 first-place votes to top Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees and Lance Lynn of the Chicago White Sox.
"I felt like everything had started to come together," Ray said on MLB Network after winning the award. "I felt like physically I was there, I felt like mentally I was in a really good place...I felt like my delivery was repeatable and I felt like everything was coming together at the perfect time."
A perfect time in more ways than one with the 30-year-old Ray a free agent after playing on a one-year, $8 million deal last season.
Ray is the fourth Blue Jays pitcher to win the Cy Young, joining Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens and Pat Hentgen.
He is also just the third pitcher in MLB history to win the Cy Young with 13 wins or fewer, per Elias Sports Bureau, following Jacob deGrom (10 wins in 2018, 11 wins in 2019) and Felix Hernandez (13 wins in 2010).
Cole, who went 16-8 with a 3.23 ERA, finished second in AL CY Young voting and Lynn, who was 11-6 with a 2.69 ERA, was third.
So, those two-a-day workouts that Ray put in during the offseason certainly paid off.
"My wife would get so mad at me because late at night when she's wanting to watch Netflix, I'm getting in the gym again," Ray said on MLB Network as his wife sat beside him. "We put the kids down for bed and I'm getting back in the gym and she's like, 'Wait, we have a Netflix show we have to watch together.' But for me, it was worth the sacrifice."