Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price and New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey both hail from Tennessee and both were named the 2012 Cy Young Award winner in their respective leagues on Wednesday, each beating out a second-place finisher who was the reigning award winner.
The similarities between the two victories, however, effectively end there.
Price was the No. 1 pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2007 draft and has known almost nothing but success since entering the league. The 27-year-old left-hander has been named to three straight All-Star teams and earned the first Cy Young Award in team history with a league-low 2.56 ERA and the first 20-win season in franchise history.
Despite those achievements, it took one of the closest votes in Cy Young history to oust defending winner Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. Price took 14 of the 28 first-place votes while Verlander garnered 13. It added up to just a four-point win for the Rays pitcher and the closest margin since Denny McLain and Mike Cuellar shared the award in 1969. Neither pitcher received anything lower than a third-place vote. (BBWAA.com has the full results of the AL race.)
Dickey's award, meanwhile, came courtesy of a landslide victory. The New York Mets right-hander became the first knuckleball pitcher to ever win the award and took home 27 of the 32 votes to more than double the total (209 to 96) of second-place finisher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Here are the full totals on BBWAA.com.)
Though Dickey's stats were stellar and more than deserving — he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts — his huge win over Kershaw was likely due to his Hollywood script of a life story. While the now-38-year-old was drafted out of Tennessee in the first round of the 1996 draft by the Texas Rangers, it was soon discovered that he did not have an ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. Dickey's signing bonus was cut down and years of battling and struggling in the major and minor leagues followed. It wasn't until he adopted the knuckleball that he experienced any kind of success and it was this 2012 season when he arguably threw the pitch as well as any knuckleballer has ever thrown it. He was named to his first All-Star team and became one of the lone reasons for Mets fans to tune in every fifth day as the team tanked in the second half.
Dickey is the first Mets pitcher to win the award since Dwight Gooden in 1985 and just the third overall. Tom Seaver won the award three times ('69, '73, '75).
A few other notes ...
• Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver finished third in the AL voting, but wasn't the recipient of the first-place vote that didn't go to Price or Verlander. That honor went to Rays closer Fernando Rodney, who was placed atop the ballot belonging to Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Rodney finished fifth in the voting, just behind Seattle's Felix Hernandez.
• Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel also earned a first-place vote with ESPN's Tim Kurkijan giving him the nod. Kimbrel finished fifth behind Dickey, Kershaw, Washington's Gio Gonzalez and Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto.
• Three knuckleball pitchers have finished second in the Cy Young voting: Phil Niekro in 1969, Wilbur Wood in '72 and Joe Niekro in '79.
• Verlander and Kershaw were both bidding to become the first repeat winner since Tim Lincecum in 2008 and 2009. Verlander would've been the first back-to-back winner in the AL since Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000. Though both put up fantastic numbers, it almost seemed as if they were battling a mini-stigma for not being quite as good as their 2011 selves.
• Detroit-area native Jon Paul Morosi advertises the fact he was "born, raised and reside(s) in the Great State of Michigan" but the Fox Sports writer placed Price ahead of Verlander on his ballot — a decision that eventually swung the award to the Rays pitcher. Morosi said he gave Price the edge because of the AL East, but also humorously wondered if his family would still invite him to Thanksgiving dinner next week.