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Cy Young Contender David Price Faces Competition: Fan's Look

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Cy Young Contender David Price Faces Competition: Fan's Look
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27 year-old David Price enjoyed a brilliant 2012 but now faces stiff competition for the forthcoming …

In making the case that David Price deserves the 2012 American League Cy Young Award, I am reminded that occasionally the possession of an abundance can prove a hindrance.

The Tampa Bay Rays defied such a theory by willingly navigating much of the recently-concluded season with 8 quality starting pitchers on the roster. While changes may be forthcoming to boost a sagging offense, the presence of copious talent did guide the Rays to an MLB best 3.19 team ERA.

Though multiple pitchers contributed to that success, nobody was more instrumental to the 90 win effort than team ace David Price. In 31 starts, the 27 year-old picked up 20 victories and posted a league-best 2.56 ERA, as well as an impressive 1.10 WHIP and 205 strikeouts.

Not only did Price assemble stellar stats, but supporters well-realize that the 5th year player steadied an often rocky ship. As the unquestioned stopper, his starts frequently halted losing streaks, and kept the club afloat when it could do little else right.

For example, the Rays finished the month of June with a frustrating 12-15 record and abysmal .222 team batting average. With new injuries to Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Joyce, the club plummeted from the top of the AL East to 4th place. Nevertheless, even within this losing atmosphere, Price enjoyed one of his best months by winning 5 of 6 June starts.

Additionally, with a sub-par offense desperately missing Evan Longoria for much of the campaign, the left-hander consistently pitched with little run support. Price was arguably deprived of a trio of wins when the Rays were shut-out 3 times during his starts, including a pair of 1-0 defeats in August.

Yet, the club's riches extended beyond a swollen rotation, as Tampa Bay also enjoyed one of baseball's premier bullpens in 2012. Leading the late-inning charge, no player excelled more than veteran Fernando Rodney.

Handed closing duties with a spring training injury to Kyle Farnsworth, the 35 year-old accumulated 48 saves and a miniscule 0.60 ERA in 76 games. The first year Ray even topped Dennis Eckersley's 22 year-old mark for lowest ERA by a reliever in arguably enjoying the finest season by a closer in baseball history.

Already recognized as the AL's Comeback Player of the Year and MLB's Delivery Man of the Year, Rodney certainly deserves Cy Young consideration and the 2012 Rays can stake a claim to baseball's best starting and relief pitchers.

But will such abundance prevent the team from earning its first Cy Young Award?

Quite possibly. 2011 winner Justin Verlander enjoyed another sterling season with 17 wins, a 2.64 ERA, and MLB best 239 strikeouts. Furthermore, he helped the Detroit Tigers earn a ticket to the playoffs. Though post-season achievements do not technically apply to the Cy Young, Verlander's October dominance may provide an edge.

Los Angeles Angels' pitcher Jered Weaver additionally matched Price's 20 wins, while his other statistics are similar to leading contenders. The 30 year-old will certainly be included in this tense debate.

Yet, the Rays themselves may prove their own toughest competition, as choosing from teammates could cancel out needed votes. Since the performances of David Price and Fernando Rodney were both highly valued by Tampa Bay, selectors may be inclined to keep the hardware in Detroit, where Verlander served as a World Series team's unquestioned leader.

The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the winner of the Cy Young Award on November 14, 2012. Rays' fans were disappointed to miss the playoffs by a slim margin during the season's final days. Witnessing one of these elite players receive a top MLB awards for the first time in franchise history could ease some of that regret.

But which one? While grateful for Rodney's unexpected dominance, I will be supporting David Price.

Sources:

Yahoo! Sports, MLB.com, Bbwaa.org.

More by Jeff Briscoe from Yahoo! Contributor Network:

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Jeff Briscoe is a regular contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and a follower of the Tampa Bay Rays . He talks Rays' baseball and more on The Sports Train radio show in Southwest Florida.

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