Anyone who really follows Major League Baseball understands what pitching wins really mean in the grand scheme, but Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who won 21 games in 2012, is the kind of pitcher whose high win total is actually elevated because of his electric performance.
Gonzalez has officially captured the distinction of most wins in the majors this season after Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels failed to register win No. 21 on Wednesday. He finishes tied for second with Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price and New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 20 wins.
Acquired from the Oakland A's last offseason, Gonzalez was something of an enigma on the mound in 2011. He had a breakout season with the A's, posting 197 strikeouts and a 3.12 ERA, but he also led the majors in walks with 91.
That meant Gonzalez was either very lucky or one of those pitchers whose wildness would play up because the stuff was that good when it was on.
A move to the National League turned out to be the cure for what ailed Gonzalez. His command and control, while still not great, was as good as it has been in his four-year big league career.
Gonzalez had a career-low 3.43 walks per nine innings pitched and had the highest strikeout rate of his career (9.35 per nine innings) with a minimum of 100 innings pitched.
In 32 starts with the Nationals in 2012, Gonzalez compiled a 21-8 record with 207 strikeouts, 149 hits allowed, 76 walks and nine home runs in 199.1 innings pitched. The nine home runs is a remarkable feat considering he is primarily a fly-ball pitcher in a good park for hitters.
Gonzalez's closest competition in the wins department in the National League was New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey, who had a chance to match Gonzalez on Tuesday but had to settle for a no-decision.
The Cy Young race in the senior circuit is going to be very interesting, with Gonzalez, Dickey, Johnny Cueto and Clayton Kershaw all having legitimate cases. Atlanta's closer Craig Kimbrel could get a lot of votes, though his limited number of innings should push him down the ballot.
In a final wrap-up to the 2012 season, here is a look at the wins leaders in Major League Baseball.
|2012 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WINS LEADERS|
|1. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals (21-8)|
|T-2. Jered Weaver, Angels (20-4)|
|T-2. R.A. Dickey, Mets (20-6)|
|T-2. David Price, Rays (20-5)|
|5. Johnny Cueto, Reds (19-9)|
|T-6. Matt Harrison, Rangers (18-11)|
|T-6. Lance Lynn, Cardinals (18-7)|
|T-8. Cole Hamels, Phillies (17-6)|
|T-8. Justin Verlander, Tigers (17-8)|
|T-8. Chris Sale, White Sox (17-8)|