Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Last week: No. 1.
After making such a strong case for Clayton Kershaw in the previous slide, can I really argue that R.A. Dickey should win the 2012 NL Cy Young Award? I'm certainly going to try.
The New York Mets knuckleballer led the NL with 230 strikeouts, finishing one ahead of Kershaw, thanks to facing Adam Greenberg in his heavily publicized one at-bat. He also led the NL with 233.2 innings pitched, five complete games and three shutouts.
Speaking of shutouts, Dickey also pitched 44.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. That may have been the most impressive body of work by a starting pitcher this season.
With a 2.73 ERA, Dickey placed second among NL starting pitchers. His 1.05 WHIP ranked third in the league. And his .226 opponents' batting average was the NL's fourth-best in that category.
Dickey was one of two NL pitchers to earn 20 wins this season. He got those 20 victories for a Mets club that finished with 74 wins. That means Dickey won 27 percent of his team's games.
With the advent of advanced metrics and a better understanding of statistics, we've learned that wins are not an accurate barometer of a pitcher's value. Whether a pitcher earns a win is dependent on too many other factors.
Yet, it's Dickey's win total—compiled while pitching for a fourth-place team—that will likely give him the nod over Kershaw. He finished with a 20-6 record, good for a .769 winning percentage.
Knuckleball pitchers aren't supposed to have a season like this. Knuckleballers are a curiosity, throwing a gimmick pitch that takes years to master. Yet no one has mastered it like Dickey, throwing it with velocity, locating it within the strike zone and using it to dominate the opposition.
Writers, broadcasters and fans are enamored with Dickey's story, in which he finally achieved major league success after years of professional and personal struggle. Perhaps that shouldn't be a factor with award voters, but it surely will be.
Besides, Dickey isn't going to win the NL Cy Young Award just because it would make a great story. He earned it with the best overall performance from a pitcher this season.
Follow @iancass on Twitter