The New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey was awarded the National League Cy Young Award, while the Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price was awarded the same honor for the American League. When the voting results are turned in for next year’s Cy Young, nothing will have changed.
Both these players’ careers are on the rise, and while they were the best pitchers in their respective leagues, they have not put forth their best seasons yet.
For Price, it is not difficult to see that he still has a bright future ahead of him. This award was several years in the making for the Rays lefty, and this season marks the start of his prime.
The 6’6”, 220-pound hurler clearly had the talent to be a dominant player when he arrived in the majors in 2008. He has the size and arm strength of a prototypical power pitcher, but he had yet to figure out the savvy and control it takes to dominate.
This season, he was a clearly improved player, and it was due to his firmer grasp of the mental aspects of pitching, as his physical gifts had not changed. Due to this, his ERA dropped from 3.49 in 2011 to 2.56, which was the AL’s top mark in 2012.
He was a mature pitcher who knew when to take full advantage of his wicked fastball, but also when to back off in order to confuse hitters. His understanding of how to dominate on the mound was clear this season, and he is just 27 years old.
Price will continue to get better, and his name will be a fixture in Cy Young Award discussions for years to come. He will build on the momentum from this season and win again in 2013.
As for Dickey, it is more difficult to argue that a 38-year-old’s career is on the rise. In addition, his progression as a pitcher has been anything but linear.
However, Dickey is a unique pitcher, and his ability to throw knuckleballs will keep batters guessing for longer than just one season.
Dickey became the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young, and he throws the pitch like no player ever has. The pitch is both faster and more accurate than batters are used to.
As USA Today’s Paul White notes, Dickey put 51.2 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, which was the second-highest mark in the National League. The problem with the knuckleball in the past has been that it is so unpredictable, even the pitcher doesn’t know if he can throw it for strikes.
Dickey solved that problem this season. He is both a knuckleballer and a reliable starting pitcher. This makes him a uniquely dangerous player.
When teams take the field next spring, batters will still have no idea how to hit Dickey’s pitches, and he will use the knuckleball to win his second consecutive Cy Young Award as well.