Praise be to Dickey!! What we all dreamed of happening finally became a reality tonight as R.A. Dickey has won the NL Cy Young Award, becoming the third Met to win it (Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden), and the first knuckleballer ever to earn the highest single-season honor for a Major League pitcher. This goes to show Dickey that he should climb Mount Kilimanjaro before every single season. He was the first player cut in spring training just two seasons ago, and now he’s not only the anchor of Terry Collins‘ starting staff, but the best pitcher in the league. He beat out Clayton Kershaw, who came in second, and third place finisher Gio Gonzalez.
Saying that R.A. Dickey had a career year is the understatement of the century. We’ve talked about all of his statistics from 2012, but heck, why not talk about them again for the first knuckleballer to ever get this honor. One of the biggest determining factors as to why he should be labeled as the best pitcher in the National League is the fact that he was able to be successful on a team that underperformed. The Mets finished the year 74-88, meaning that Dickey’s 20 wins accounted for 27% of the team’s success. Gonzalez did edge R.A. with 21 wins, but only accounted for 21% of his team’s victories because the Nationals had the best record in baseball. With Kershaw’s 14 wins, is performance attributed to 16% of the Dodgers overall victories.
Now, let’s get to the rest of the statistics that make R.A. standout from the rest of the crowd. He’s the first Met to win 20 games in a season since Frank Viola in 1990. Our favorite knuckler finished with a 20-6 record, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 5 complete games, 3 shutouts, and 230 strikeouts in 233.2 innings pitched. He led the NL in six categories (games started, CG, SO, Ks, IP), second in ERA, third in WHIP, and the third-lowest opponent batting average (.226). He did all of this while facing the most batters in the league (927). As a kicker, let’s not forget the back-to-back one-hitters he threw, which also included a franchise record 32.2 scoreless inning streak.
The statistics speak for themselves; this year’s Cy Young race was unique because each of these finalists have a different style of pitching. Dickey’s style is one that nobody has ever seen before, even by other knuckleballers. Not only is he throwing the most unpredictable pitch in the game, but he’s adapted it to his own way of pitching, and has used that to dominate the Senior Circuit. Once the Mets started the second half of their schedule following the All-Star Game, there wasn’t a lot to smile about, but Dickey kept us engaged with his constant success and his trek towards the 20-win plateau.
It’s very rare when a player like R.A. has the type of success he’s had after the type of career he’s had to endure. Reading his book, Wherever I Wind Up gives us a good sense of the person he used to be, and how all his trials and tribulations have shaped him into the person he has become today. When he clinched his 20th victory on the last home game of the season, there was not a person that was more gracious than Dickey. His words were so sincere and humble, and despite a tough season, hearing him talk in that post-game interview once again re-affirmed why I’m proud to be a fan of the New York Mets.
Winning the award will no doubt play a role in contract extension negotiations, which have been “ongoing” according to Jeff Wilpon and other associated with the Mets organization. We’ll see how this affects the talks, but not tonight. We’re not going to focus on 2013 because Dickey’s 2012 season deserves to be remembered and celebrated, especially now that he has a Cy Young in tow. I hope he enjoys this tremendous individual achievement; I would imagine that only winning a World Series is a more satisfying professional accomplishment than this.