COMMENTARY | For the first time since 1985, when Dwight Gooden dominated the National League with 24 wins, a 1.53 earned run average, and 268 strikeouts, the New York Mets have a Cy Young Award winner on their pitching staff. For the first time in a long time, however fleeting this moment may end up being, the Mets are relevant again.
That's because R.A. Dickey, the ace of the Mets' staff, has been named the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers of America. Dickey is the third Mets pitcher to win the award, joining Gooden, and before him Tom Seaver, who won the award three times.
Here's what Dickey did in 2012: He went 20-6, good for a .769 winning percentage on a team that finished with a winning percentage of .457. Dickey won 14 more games than he lost, on a team that finished 14 games under .500. He led the National League in innings (233.2), strikeouts (230), complete games (five), shutouts (three), quality starts (27), and batters faced (927). He finished second in wins and ERA (2.73).
The Mets don't have a Mike Trout or a Bryce Harper, the 2012 Rookies of the Year in the American League and National League respectively. They don't have a Miguel Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown this year while leading the Detroit Tigers to the playoffs. And, for that matter, they don't have that prototypical stud at the top of their rotation. They have David Wright and they have today's star, R.A. Dickey.
If Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers or Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals had won the award, you could have argued that Dickey had a better year than both and that he should have taken home the award. But at the end of the day, Kershaw and Gonzalez deserved to be in the conversation. Kershaw, the NL's Cy Young winner last year, led the league in ERA (2.53), and Gonzalez, in his first year in the NL, led the league in wins (21).
It's interesting how some of the excitement leading up to the Cy Young Award being announced was a bit tempered by the ongoing rumors that Dickey could be traded at some point during the offseason. The Mets haven't exactly gone out of their way to assure fans that he'll be back in 2013. After picking up the $5 million team option for next year, the Mets will either sign him long term or send him packing in a trade.
Who knows if Dickey will be able to repeat the season he had in 2012. Honestly, that will be tough to do. Just like Doc Gooden did 27 years ago, Dickey dominated the National League this past season. Of course, he did it with a knuckleball. But similar to how hitters couldn't catch up to Gooden's fastball, Dickey's knuckler left them puzzled all year.
That's what makes baseball great. A guy a couple years away from his 40th birthday can baffle hitters just like a 20-year-old kid did back when the Mets were getting ready to win a championship.
It kind of makes you think that as big of an award as this is for R.A. Dickey, it's just as big for the New York Mets.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.