Three years ago, the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey was an overlooked free agent. In 2012, Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young award, beating out Gio Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw, and completing his amazing transformation into one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The 38-year-old Dickey won 20 games for a Mets team that won only 74, throwing a league-leading 233 innings with a 2.73 ERA and a 140 ERA+. He edged out Kershaw for the strikeout title in the NL, with 230 to Kershaw's 229. He becomes the third Mets pitcher to win the award, joining Tom Seaver (1969, 1973, 1975) and Dwight Gooden (1985).
Dickey's story is well-known by now: he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro; he occasionally wears a Darth Vader mask in the Mets' clubhouse; he doesn't have an ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm; he throws a funny-looking demon pitch. And now he's a Cy Young winner. Our own Rob Neyer wrote about his bid to become the first knuckleballer to win the award back in September.
Kershaw didn't pitch appreciably worse than he did in his Cy Young-winning season in 2011, but the Dodgers were stingier with the run support this season. The left-hander led the world with a 2.53 ERA, and he was second in the NL in strikeouts and innings pitched.
Gonzalez led the league in wins with 21, but he also had the highest ERA (2.89) of the three finalists, and he pitched fewer innings (199) than Dickey or Kershaw. But Gonzalez emerged as another ace for a Nationals staff that already had a couple, and led the Nationals to their first playoff appearance since 1981.
Johnny Cueto pitched in a tougher park for pitchers of any of the top three candidates, and he finished fourth, receiving one first-place vote. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel had one of the most amazing seasons by any reliever in history -- he struck out 16.7 batters for each nine innings he pitched, and he never allowed more than a single run in any of his 63 outings. He finished fifth, receiving one first-place vote as well.
The full voting:
|R.A. Dickey, Mets||27||5||209|
|Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers||2||11||10||1||6||96|
|Gio Gonzalez, Nationals||1||12||6||8||4||93|
|Johnny Cueto, Reds||1||4||10||10||2||75|
|Craig Kimbrel, Braves||1||5||5||9||41|
|Matt Cain, Giants||1||6||7||22|
|Kyle Lohse, Cardinals||2||2||6|
|Aroldis Chapman, Reds||1||1|
|Cole Hamels, Phillies||1||1|
Two people left Kershaw off their ballot entirely, including one guy who did it in favor of Kyle Lohse. Get them, Internet!