If you’re going to lose out on a prestigious award, you might as well lose it to the feel-good story of the year.
The Baseball Writers Association of America awarded R.A. Dickey the 2012 Cy Young award Wednesday, making Dickey the first knuckleballer ever to win it.
Was he a better pitcher than Clayton Kershaw, who was bidding for back-to-back Cy Youngs? Probably not. But it wasn’t the biggest robbery in the history of the trophy.
The absurdity of the vote was the breadth of Dickey’s victory. Dickey garnered 27 of the 32 first-place votes. That’s hardly indicative of his edge over the other finalists, especially Kershaw, who received just two first-place votes. Ridiculously, two of the 32 voters left Kershaw entirely off their ballot.
Kershaw led the National League in ERA (2.53) and WHIP (1.02) and finished second (by one) to Dickey in strikeouts (229). Many of Dickey’s edges were the result of accumulation, while Kershaw’s were the result of how dominating he was start to start.
Kershaw had the best WAR (wins above replacement) among NL pitchers, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
If the 30 major league GMs were asked who they'd rather have in their rotation for next season, 30 of them would probably say Kershaw over Dickey ... but that's not the same as saying he should have won the 2012 award.
Unlike the other two finalists for the award, Kershaw hasn’t reached the age when most pitchers are at their prime. He doesn’t turn 25 until March. Gio Gonzalez is 27. Dickey is 38.
If the Los Angeles Dodgers lock him up to a long-term deal, which seems like only a matter of time, who knows how many of these things he could win.
You can blame the voters for the result and justly so, but you also have to point the finger at Kershaw’s teammates. Due to low run support and some relief missteps, Kershaw won just 14 games. If he had won 20, I'm guessing he would have been thanking the voters live, via satellite, in his acceptance speech.
Had he taken the Cy Young, Kershaw would have done so with the lowest win total since Felix Hernandez won it with 13 in 2010. It would have been the lowest total for an NL Cy Young winner since Eric Gagne had two wins (and 55 saves) in 2003.
The only shame of the matter is that it deprives Kershaw of something to brag about over the man to whom he’s constantly compared. Sandy Koufax didn’t go back-to-back in the Cy Young until 1966, when he was three years older than Kershaw is now.
In those days, they only awarded one trophy for both leagues. Koufax was hurt for part of 1965 and the Angels’ Dean Chance broke up what might have been four straight Cy Youngs for Koufax.
Take heart, Clayton: There’s always next year (and the year after that).