R.A. Dickey took control of the National League Cy Young race in June, and the 38-year-old knuckleballer never looked back.
The New York Mets failed to make the playoffs, but throw that factor out in this instance. Did I mention that Dickey is a 38-year-old knuckleballer?
Many believe that Gonzalez deserves a first-place finish in this year's Cy Young race. There's no doubt that it's close, but Dickey's skill-set and circumstances make him the only logical option. Whether it be statistically or just in terms of the eye test, what Dickey did was absolutely amazing. It may never be matched.
We've seen Tim Wakefield make a career out of throwing the knuckleball recently, but not like this. Dickey puts some oomph on it, putting it past talented batters with regularity. Gonzalez's sweeping breaking ball devastated opponents as well, but Dickey still had 23 more strikeouts. Granted, he also threw more innings, but that speaks to his endurance as well.
Dickey's WHIP is lower, his ERA is lower and he only won one fewer game on a team that failed to make the postseason. People tend to side with the player who made the playoffs, but it definitely wasn't Dickey's fault that New York wasn't there.
The third finalist in this conversation is Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw led the NL in ERA and racked up 229 strikeouts, but he also missed some time this season. It's not that he wasn't dominant on the field, but he needed to be on it more often.
Watching Dickey go through the season was incredible. He was the unlikeliest ace, yet he became the best ace in the league. Teams couldn't figure him out, as very few pitchers have been able to figure the knuckleball out. He's cut from a rare cloth, and that has to count for something.
In terms of pure stuff, Gonzalez and Kershaw are tough to match, but in terms of the complete package, from stuff to story to circumstance, Dickey takes the cake.