With the smell of champagne still lingering in his senses and the sight of 2 million Astros fans lining a downtown street last week to celebrate another World Series championship still fresh in mind, Justin Verlander said he didn’t exactly feel comfortable talking about an individual award.

Verlander’s third career American League Cy Young Award, which he won unanimously in voting revealed Wednesday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, capped a storybook season in which he returned from Tommy John surgery at 39 years old and had one of the best seasons of his career. He went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA in 28 starts and was one of baseball’s biggest feel-good stories.

Verlander, who won the 2011 AL Cy Young with the Tigers -- also unanimously -- and in '19 with the Astros, becomes the first pitcher to win a Cy Young Award after not pitching in the previous season. That carries a special meaning for him.

“It shows I’m in a different point in my life," said Verlander. "I will always kind of remember this Cy Young as looking back at the growth of me as a father, as a person and also the rehab and all the hard work that went into the rehab and how I was just so committed to [the idea that] it was going to go well and I was going to come back and be me. To actually have it happen will be something I will always remember in all those great moments in my life the last couple of years.”

Verlander got all 30 first-place votes, with White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease finishing second, Blue Jays righty Alex Manoah finishing third, Angels righty Shohei Ohtani placing fourth and Astros lefty Framber Valdez coming in fifth place.