Why R.A. Dickey Won’t Win Cy Young Award

From drive-by commenter “Tomahawk Chop,” commenting on the “Cy Young Smackdown: R.A. Dickey vs. Craig Kimbrel” post of October 1:

Mets fans are such sore losers even before the seasons over. The only reason this article exist is because with all of Dickey’s “amazing” starter numbers, ( yes the mets pun refers to ininngs pitched, strikeouts, whip, shutouts, complete games, batting average against) there’s still a shadow of doubt he won’t win the cy young. Why? Afraid the voters might pick the pitcher with the greatest strikeout ratio EVER in baseball, (16.7 Single season record, 15.9 career MLB record) A closer who struck out 49% batters he faced, (that translates to AT LEAST a strikeout every appearance by the way struckout 4 COUNT EM 4 batters in one inning for a save on 9/26/2012) Go ahead try and justify it with some horrible arithmetic that if that was your logic you might as well give the cy young to Johan Santana for throwing the Mets first no hitter. Kimbrel is lights out, (something that can’t be said of any of the Mets revolving door of closers Fransico, Rauch, Parnell) Kimbrel has been absurdly dominant, 1.02 ERA (second only to Fernando Rodney’s MLB record 0.60) MLB leading whip of 0.654, NL leading 42 saves, AND if you don’t believe he’s been dominant check this stat out: ONLY 27 hits allowed 7 ER, 7 R, (remember 231 batters faced, 116 strikeouts ONLY 27 HITS!) Are you kidding me???? If your gonna compare apples and oranges or in this case Starters to Closers, compare them by the criteria they’re judged by. Either way Dickey might of had a “magical” season but Kimbrel is only getting better and has well established himself as the BEST closer in baseball and put up the BEST numbers by one in a single season. And the best comparison and argument you can come up with is Eric Gagne and his save percentage? Weak…. But what can you expect from fans of a team that choked after the allstar break crashing in a ball of fire back to the snake bitten franchise that other teams beat up on to make it to the postseason. Either way if the only thing you guys have to cling to is one award for a journey man pitcher who the Mets will probably trade away anyway, maybe the voters will throw you guys a bone. From Braves country, looking forward to watching the Bravos spank you guys in 2013 and years to come!

My, my, didn’t take long for those Braves fans to become ornery, seething, and bitter. I suppose that’s what happens when Bud Selig changes the rules at the last minute and pulls a Wild Card security blanket out from under your feet — in turn, making your winter misery only one day shorter than a Mets fan’s.

Reading between the vitriol, “Tomahawk” does present valid points. If you measure dominance in terms of strikeouts, then Kimbrel has put together one of, if not the, most dominant seasons in MLB history. And certainly, his 0.65 WHIP is mind-blowing. He wasn’t perfect, however, as he blew 3 saves and lost one game. A tiny amount, but no losses and no blown saves would have provided more support for his Cy Young case.

Of course, Dickey wasn’t perfect, either. But, Dickey threw 170 more innings than Kimbrel, which is arguably more valuable to a club. Could Kimbrel have maintained his other-worldly dominance
as a starter? Through 200+ innings? Unlikely, and that’s why most writers will give their first-place vote to a starter such as Dickey or Gio Gonzalez.

And that brings up Kimbrel’s best chance of winning the Cy Young: votes split among R.A., Gio, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, and Johnny Cueto. Yes, I can see all five collecting first-place votes. Heck, Kyle Lohse might even garner a vote from a Missouri scribe. With votes split among so many starters, it’s conceivable that Kimbrel could walk away with the Cy Young Award; certainly, he’ll get his share of first-place votes.

Try to block out Tomahawk’s tone and consider Kimbrel’s numbers, the playing field of candidates, and the tendencies of today’s voters: how do you think this will shake out? Consider, also, that (unlike us) few of the voters watched every one of R.A.’s starts, so they’re basing their vote mostly on the stat lines; will they take into consideration the Mets’ ineptitude? Will they hold against R.A. the fact he pitched in the media capital of the world?

Post your thoughts in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. DaveSchneck October 11, 2012 at 8:57 am
    Joe,
    Wow, sure sounds like Tomahawk will be spending this offseason in therapy. The Braves certainly deserve credit as a model of how to run a baseball organization, but their postseason performance has been dreadful. Anyhow, regarding the Cy Young, Kimbrel hdid have an all-time great season for a closer, no doubt. There is certainly a case to be made for his candidacy. Ultimately, I think starting pitching is more important, and I think this is proven consistently through player salaries. So, I think a closer can win the Cy Young award, but it would require both a dominant season and a weak group of starting candidates. This year, both RA and Gio had great seasons, so I think one of them should wind up winning. We’ll see soon enough.
  2. Dave October 11, 2012 at 8:58 am
    You know what’s great about statistics? They don’t lie. Let’s pick some arbitrary end points, say May 22nd through June 29th. Here’s some interesting comparisons:
    Dickey Kimbrel
    IP 62.2 62.2
    BF 223 231
    K 76 116
    BB 8 14
    H 29 27
    R 7 7
    ER 6 7
    HR 1 3
    WHIP 0.590 0.654
    ERA 0.862 1.01

    And oh yeah….Dickey pitched ANOTHER 170 innings on top of that. Closers win Cy Young awards because voters are stupid. No other reason.

    • Izzy October 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm
      You know what sucks about statisitics.. THEY DO LIE, and when someone picks a small piece of the season vice the entire package you are indeed making numbers lie. Dickey had a great year. He doesn’t need statistical manipulation to make a case for him.
  3. NormE October 11, 2012 at 9:10 am
    Joe’s point about a plethora of candidates is well taken. The best chance for a relief pitcher winning the Cy Young is when either the starting candidate pool is poor or plentiful (as is the case here). I agree that if Kimbrel wins it will be because the votes will be split among several worthy candidates.

    As for Tomahawk, I would recommend a good therapist.

  4. Dan B October 11, 2012 at 10:13 am
    Let me get this straight. The Mets finished almost exactly with the win total that Vegas predicted and we chocked. The Braves last year blew a lead so big it made our 2007 season look like a walk in the park. But the Mets are the chockers? From a team that made losing in the playoffs an art form!
  5. derek October 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm
    hahahahh

    good one dan b!

  6. MikeT October 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm
    Something that has bothered me all year. All year it has been Dickey and “__” for the Cy Young. That *blank* has changed from Kershaw to Cueto to Burnett to Kimbrel. But all along it has been Dickey and someone else as the front runners. If Dickey was in that conversation all year, how is it not a slam dunk that it is Dickey? All those others will split their votes and Dickey will continue to get the votes that were always his to begin with. Am I the only one who thinks this is absurd?
  7. Tombone October 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm
    A dominant starter is much more valuable than a dominant closer. End of story.
    • Izzy October 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm
      See that Tombone makes the best case for Dickey. He says it all plain and simple, he didn’t need to play games with numbers.
  8. keefherny17 October 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm
    Bitter much? Geez, this guy really hates the Mets and their fans. Only real fault Dickey has is that he’s a Met. He won 20 games on such a mediocre/ bad team… that is a huge feat in itself.
  9. HankinColorado October 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm
    Anybody who writes this, ….. “If your gonna” …is a moron.

    P.S. no pitcher who comes in for just ONE friggin inning, often with the bases empty, should ever win the CY Young.

  10. mets fan October 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm
    kimbrel’s not even the best closer in baseball – rodney at TB better year. way to go in your post season baseball. now your team is with mine – on the golf course.
  11. keefherny17 October 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm
    Also, Braves fans are real classy throwing garbage onto the field.
  12. Billy October 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm
    Kimbrel isn’t even good enough to be a starter. Being the best closer is like being the smartest kid with downs
  13. pete October 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    And this guy’s calling Mets fans sore losers. Oh sweet, delicious irony.
  14. Frank Tangorra October 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    It boggles my mind how this was even published. Yes Kimbrel was dominant but in no way is he the best in history. Mariano is the best. What Braves fans don’t understand is winning during the regular season and choking year after year is what makes us Mets fans laugh more and more. Your manager is a complete clown who deserves to be fired because he can’t manage his way out of a paper bag. It was pure embarrassment for Chipper to go out the way he did. R A Dickey pitches as a starter and had a MVP ERA. He struck out 230 batters while walking maybe 30.

    So next season when the Braves win about 80 games because there is no replacing Chipper we as Mets fans will be laughing once again. As our farm system continues to build a championship pitching staff and in time we will be the class of the national league I will sit here and laugh at the Braves two years in a row choking.

  15. Marcus October 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    I thought the south had some class. He must be a former Phillies fan.
    • JoeBourgeois October 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm
      I’m _from_ the South, The reason I’m a Mets fan is Braves fans.

      And remember, all of these fine, intelligent folks vote, too.

      We ought to do the NFL thing: “Upon further review, the South won the Civil War. You are now an independent separate nation. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

  16. Nick October 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm
    Sore losers seriously. He’s the one that’s crying over this situation. Kimberl is a closer, so this dude has no room to talk about cy young award. And this braves fan has no right calling met fans losers since he and his fans through garbage on the field and being such whiners.
  17. Brett October 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm
    R.A. Dickey = Cy Young

    Craig Kimbrel = Rolaid’s Relevier of the Year
    (for the NL cuz he wouldn’t win it if in AL)

    • Brett October 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm
      Reliever*

      and Do they even have that award still? lol

  18. quackenbushman October 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm
    so, the braves– who set a NL record recently for biggest collapse in history, surpassing my favorite team’s record of a few years prior, are now sitting in the same place as me at the moment; on their couches, watching San Fran and the Reds battle it out in the post season.
    Kimbrel is a one-inning pitcher. A man who, after 30/40 pitches on a bad night, would have a manager thinking about removing him to avoid over-tiring his arm. Dickey, on the other hand, regularly threw over 110+ pitches over 7+ innings every game he went into. He wins 20 games for his sub-par team (a number that, given better defense and hitting, would certainly have been higher). Leads the league in several pitching categories. Climbs Kilimanjaro to raise money for a worthwhile cause. Overcomes all odds at a late-30s age to realize his dream. Publishes a well-written autobiography. Has become, what i referred to my gf as while watching his back-to-back CG-Shut outs unfold, my hero.
    There is no denying Kimbrel is a dominant relief pitcher. But put him in as a starter and his numbers would without a doubt level out. The story of RA is one that needs to be taken into consideration, as well as the significance of the pitch he has mastered to do it. Kimbrel only needs to look to who wears NY pinstripes to see the most dominant closer in MLB history, anyway. Plus I believe there are 2 other closers in the mlb with more saves this year, and others with the same number of saves, that put it a little more into perspective why a closer doesn’t deserve the CY this year.
    By the way– this braves fan, like all of those who threw trash all over their field watching an unfortunate post-season performance, need to go soak their heads. Don’t try to compare Kimbrel to 3 Mets who shared closing duties for a team in rebuilding mode. Instead, take any Braves starter and put him against RA. That argument seems about as ridiculous, doesn’t it?
  19. uncle map October 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm
    Lulz at braves fans. They should change their name to the Atlanta Chokes.
  20. James October 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm
    I have compassion on the Braves on their fans. All those years in first and little to show for it. I’d almost (almost) rather root for a team that never makes the playoffs at all than one that wins the world series only once for every 15 playoff appearances. In any case, Dickey will win, for sure, however and it ain’t going to be so close. Than he can sign with someone else :-(
  21. Mexicanmetsfan October 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm
    It’s really simple, you build your bullpen around your starting pitching, so, what are we arguing about.

    I got the chance to watch Kimbrel live, and he’s something else, I wish the Mets could get him, but if the Starting pitching don do their job, whats the point on having ligths-out bullpen.

    Another good example are the Reds.

  22. Chris October 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm
    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2012/10/4/3438528/craig-kimbrell-strikeout-rate-league-comparison

    While Kimbrel’s season is definetly Cy Young worthy, his strikeout rate must be taken with a grain of salt. The record breaking strikeout rate must be regressed due to the actual changes in the game. All in all his historic strikeout rate is only a teeny bit better then Gagne’s 2003 historic and Cy Young worthy season but without the 55 saves record.

  23. TW October 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm
    Terrible writing, worse point. If there wasn’t a 20-game winner (there are two) then maybe. The writers still owe us for Dawson in 1988.
  24. Nico Centanni October 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    The braves only played one more game then the mets this year hows that make you feel. And by the way Dickey would f*%k Kimbrel up
  25. sweetviol October 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm
    hey tomahawk, when are they goona check kimbrell for steriods…also when is MLB gonna wake up and leave the CY award for starters only…
  26. Metsfaninparadise October 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm
    Almost nothing left to say, everyone else has put it so well. If “Tommy” wasn’t such a Mets hater maybe he could be a bit more objective, but he ruined his whole argument by piling on the Mets at the end. If there’s one thing he should have learned from Greg Maddux, it’s that strikeouts aren’t the be-all and end-all. 230 dominant innings beats 70 dominant innings,no matter how you slice and dice ‘em.
  27. kd bart October 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm
    You think this guy realizes that despite all of his great seasons that Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young award? And if any reliever has ever been worthy of one , it is Mariano. Relievers don’t win the Cy Young unless the starters that year are not noteworthy. The NL has had a few noteworthy starters this season.
  28. Balonius Funk October 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm
    “Tomahawk” is John Rocker. Couldn’t you tell?
  29. Justin Z. October 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm
    I think Dickey pitched about three times the amount of innings that Kimbrel faced. Oh yeah, and Kimbrel pitched back to back one hitters right?… wait no that doesn’t sound right. Dickey throws 80 MPH and he makes hitters look like they never picked up a bat in their lives. And I almost forget to mention that streak of about 30 innings, which is almost half of the amount of innings Kimbrel pitched all year, where Dickey didn’t give up an Earned Run. I will lose all respect for MLB if Dickey’s not the Cy Young.
  30. Brooks October 12, 2012 at 1:01 am
    I think people are not realizing that Gio didn’t even throw 200 innings. There has NEVER been a sub-200 inning Cy Young winner (starter and full season). I doubt Gio will be the first.
    • argonbunnies October 12, 2012 at 2:00 am
      Although I think Dickey had the better year — more innings, more consistency, fewer walks — it’d be lame if Gio lost the award just because Davey scratched him from his final start and left him sitting on 199.1 IP.
      • Brooks October 12, 2012 at 2:31 am
        oh yeah I’m not saying he’s not gonna or shouldn’t win it because of that. I’m saying if you have two pitchers with comparable numbers, but one has 233 innings pitched and the other has 199 and can rarely get out of the 6th inning, especially if the one with 233 has a better ERA and more K’s, the winner is quite obvious. There’s really not much difference between 21 and 20 wins. A 20 win season is a 20 win season. Unless you’re talkin like 24 or 25 wins.
        I just don’t think Gio should even be involved in the convo. It’s between Dickster and Kimbrell as far as I’m concerned. And normally I wouldn’t be for a relief pitcher winning it, especially a Brave. But we’re talkin about one of the most dominating seasons in history, in the age of babying starting pitchers, where relief pitching is that much more important to win.
        • argonbunnies October 12, 2012 at 5:33 am
          I agree on Gio vs Dickey. But Gio did lead the league in K rate, lowest opponent average, and HR rate. His curve is nasty, and pitchers on division-winning teams historically do well in the Cy voting. So, unfortunately, it wouldn’t shock me if he and R.A. get fairly similar votes.

          As for babied starters, well, no pitcher in baseball was babied more than Kimbrel. If you want to see a reliever pulling the load for his team, check what O’Day’s done for the Orioles this week! More multi-inning appearances and inherited runners stranded than Kimbrel had all season. But I hear you on the general Strasburgian trend.

    • argonbunnies October 12, 2012 at 2:32 am
      As for how the vote shakes out, if the recent Cy Young awards to Lincecum (’09), Greinke, and Felix are any indication, then voters won’t hold a 14-9 record against anyone, and they’ll pick Clayton Kershaw.
  31. argonbunnies October 12, 2012 at 1:42 am
    I see no need to take the stats out of the argument. Kimbrel’s stats say that, on a per-inning basis, he was the most dominant (if dominance is measured in Ks and/or opponent avg) pitcher ever.

    You know who’s really close? Kenley Jansen:
    2010 – .130 avg, 13.7 K/9
    2011 – .159 avg, 16.1 K/9

    How many Cy Young votes did he get? Zero. Too few innings. There’s also Billy Wagner:
    1999 – .135 avg, 14.9 K/9

    He got some Cy votes, but finished well behind not just Randy Johnson but also Mike Hampton and Kevin Millwood. Why? 75 innings just wasn’t enough.

    Kimbrel’s right in between. Right in between a guy who got zero first place votes, and a guy who got zero votes period. He pitched a whole season, unlike Jansen, but pitched a cushy workload, unlike Wagner.

    That’s something else the stats reveal: Kimbrel had perhaps the easiest job in baseball: come in to start a clean inning, get 3 outs, take a shower. 60 of his 62 appearances were exactly that. Even one-out lefties sometimes come in with somebody else’s baserunner to worry about, for Pete’s sake.

    If dominance as a super-specialist really deserves major award consideration, then where are the plaques for Jess Orosco (who led the league every year in getting Barry Bonds out), or for all those pinch-hitter who had one great year where they hit over .400?

    Gagne had a smaller role than a starting pitcher, and was a questionable choice for Cy Young. Kimbrel had a much smaller role than Gagne, and is a bit below “questionable”.

  32. Pelicanman October 12, 2012 at 9:09 am
    How anyone can take writing that atrocious seriously boggles my mind. It’s not even worth the electrons it’s printed on.
  33. Tomahawk slop October 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm
    Fairly or unfairly, Dickey has something going for him that none of the other candidates do — exceptional relations & reputation with the national media and a hard-to-resist life story. It is what it is and should give him an edge this year. Not that his stats don’t make him deserving. They certainly do. It’s easy to make an argument that he is the most deserving this year based on stats alone. It just depends on what stats you want to use.

    Here’s a prediction for how they finish up in the voting:

    1. Dickey
    2. Kershaw
    3. Gio
    4. Kimbrel
    5. Cueto

    I think Dickey and Kershaw will be close in the voting. Gio won’t be far behind. Kimbrel will get votes, but he won’t be close to the first 3.

    I hope Tomahawk Chop has begun his offseason therapy. It will take a lot to straighten him out.

  34. Leo October 13, 2012 at 12:09 am
    This shouldn’t even be close. The mets couldn’t score enough runs to make use of Dickeys QS’s. Dickey would have had 25 wins on the Yankees. I’m typing this while Beltran looks All World in the playoffs for the cardinals. Sometimes the lights shine too bright , I’d like to see the other pitchers try to win 20 in NYC
  35. Richard October 14, 2012 at 12:21 am
    So let me get this straight…. This person is saying Kimbrel should win? What a load of bull,if Kimbrel pitched as many innings as Dickey,he wouldn’t have struck out 49% of his batters… He should win reliever of the year,nothing more. He’s a closer,and Cy-Young’s belong to /STARTING/ pitchers.