Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price edged out Justin Verlander by just four points to win the 2012 American League Cy Young Award. Price captured 14 first place votes to Verlander’s 13. It marks the closest vote since 1969. R.A. Dickey was voted the National League’s recipient of the award in convincing fashion, garnering 27 first place votes.
So, where do we start? How about moderately surprised at the announcement of Price winning the A.L. Cy Young? You can view the full ballot here, but to summarize: Price’s teammate Fernando Rodney actually recieved a first place vote (via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram) and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim recieved two homerific second place votes from members of the Los Angeles chapter of the BBWAA (Michael Martinez and Bill Plunkett). But hey, who am I to tell people how to vote on these things?
By the numbers, one could argue that Verlander had a better season – plus the fact that he didn’t have an elite defense behind him like Price – but the Tampa Bay Rays left hander’s season was by no means something that should be summarily dismissed. Here’s a look at how Verlander and Price compared:
Price: 211 IP; 2.56 ERA; 3.05 FIP; 3.12 xFIP; 205 K; 1.10 WHIP; 5.1 fWAR
Verlander: 238.1 IP; 2.64 ERA; 2.94 FIP; 3.31 xFIP; 239 K; 1.06 WHIP; 6.8 fWAR
Price edged Verlander in the wins category, 20-to-17, which would strike me as saddening if that is what swayed a handful of voters in the end. Regardless, Price had a great season and we’ll offer him a hearty congratulations on taking home some hardware for it.
The National League vote is an entirely different story as R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleball pitcher to win a Cy Young. It’s easy to anoint the New York Mets righty’s 2012 accomplishments as “great for a knuckleballer”, but it was really so much more than that. Dickey had an outstanding season for any pitcher, knuckleballer or otherwise.
Dickey captured 27 of 32 first place votes, earning 113 points more than runner-up Clayton Kershaw. You can view the National League ballot here. Notable surprises in the N.L. voting breakdown include a first place vote for Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves, and the fact that two voters (Alvin Valdez and Bill Center) left Kershaw off their ballots.
Dickey by the numbers: 233.2 IP; 2.73 ERA; 3.27 FIP; 3.27 xFIP; 230 K; 1.05 WHIP; 4.6 fWAR
Kershaw, like Verlander in the A.L., bested the award winner in a number of statistical categories.
Kershaw by the numbers: 227.2 IP; 2.53 ERA; 2.89 FIP; 3.25 xFIP; 229 K; 1.02 WHIP; 5.5 fWAR
So there’s an argument to be made here that Kershaw is more deserving of the award, although the evidence is much less indicting compared to the A.L. result, but the real winner here is narrative.
Dickey is something of an against the odds story. He pitches without an ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, he has mastered multiple variations of the knuckleball, and he’s enjoyed his most successful season at the ripe old age of 38.
So don’t walk away from these voting results angry. In fact, walk away laughing. Laughing over the frivolity that a couple of voters value saves enough to designate first place votes to a pair of closers in Rodney and Kimbrel. Awards, man, they’re really something.