2. Dwight Gooden – 1984
Gooden’s historic 1985 season looms very large in Mets pitching lore, and with good reason – his ERA was a microscopic 1.53, which is the lowest single-season ERA by a starter in Mets history. But his magical rookie season one year prior was also among the best in the National League, and arguably warranted him winning the Cy Young two years in a row.
This case is, in my opinion, egregious. In 1984, the NL Cy Young was awarded to Rick Sutcliffe, who was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Cubs midseason. In his 20 National League starts, he posted a 2.69 ERA, but for the year, his total ERA was 3.68. Even just factoring in Sutcliffe’s NL rate statistics after the trade and ignoring counting stats, Gooden bested him in the following categories: ERA (2.60), WHIP (1.073), strikeouts per nine innings (11.395), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.781), and FIP (1.69).
If you factor in the full season and include counting stats, Gooden also led the NL in strikeouts (276) and WAR for pitchers (5.5).
This could be my lack of first-hand knowledge talking, but I fail to see why Sutcliffe was deemed a better Cy Young candidate than Gooden, other than the fact that Gooden was the obvious NL Rookie of the Year and perhaps the voters did not want to give him two awards in the same season. Either way, in retrospect, it’s a head scratcher.