- Last Updated: 9:38 AM, November 15, 2012
- Posted: 1:21 AM, November 15, 2012
ROSEMONT, Ill. — R.A. Dickey captured too many constituencies to lose this campaign.
He convinced the saps with his rags-to-riches tale of perseverance. He romanced the eccentrics by developing not just any knuckleball, but one thrown exceptionally fast.
The geeks accepted the invitation to his party thanks to his high innings pitched and strikeouts, which led to impressive scores in the sabermetric categories. And finally, Dickey won over the wins crowd — or the luddites, as they prefer not to be called — by hitting the magical 20 wins mark.
The Democrats and Republicans both could learn much from Dickey’s ability to nail down so many bases. And those bases, the Baseball Writers Association of America’s voters, deserve credit, too. Dickey is a most worthy recipient of the 2012 National League Cy Young Award, a development we learned yesterday, and merits inclusion with Tom Seaver (1969, 1973 and 1975) and Dwight Gooden (1985) as the only Mets honorees.
Writing as a representative of the geek lobby, I can assert that Dickey excelled the most in the categories he could control the most. He led the NL with 233 2/3 innings pitched and 230 strikeouts. That he walked just 2.1 batters per nine innings while fanning 8.9 in the same span further boosted his candidacy.
“We’re all judged on how many innings we throw,” Dickey said, correctly, in a conference call following the announcement. “You really would have to perform well to throw that many innings.”
His narrative, wins totals and pitching style do nothing for me. They did something for plenty of others, though, which is why Dickey won by a comfortable, 113-point margin. As Dickey noted, voters “didn’t see [the knuckleball] as an illegitimate weapon that wasn’t worthy. … They had the imagination to see beyond the old-school mentality.”
You could make a strong case for the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner who finished a distant second. Dickey ranked as just a tick better than Kershaw for me because of the innings pitched and strikeouts.
Washington’s Gio Gonzalez, the third-place finisher, could win only if you bought into the idea that his starts meant more because he pitched for the NL East champion Nationals. Which isn’t fair to a pitcher like Dickey, who wasn’t at all responsible for the Mets’ final record. Well, except that they would’ve been even worse without him.
We’ve been talking plenty about whether the Mets should sell high on Dickey, who turned 38 after the completion of the regular season. Whether they should trade him with one year and $5 million left on his contract, add some much-needed outfield offense in a return and let some other club roll the dice on whether Dickey can live up to the slow-aging precedents set by the Niekro brothers, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough and Hoyt Wilhelm.
That’s a worthwhile debate, and it will continue. For a moment, however, Dickey and the Mets have earned the right to celebrate this significant accomplishment in franchise history without such discussion underlining it. And the BBWAA can know that it did well on this one.
“It was an honor to work with R.A. throughout the year and have a front-row seat to his historic season,” Mets manager Terry Collins said in a statement. “R.A. is a great teammate, fierce competitor and even a better human being. No one deserves this award more than him.”
That’s laying it on rather thick for The Post’s liking. But on this we can agree: No one deserves this award more than Dickey. There haven’t been too many blowouts for Dickey to enjoy since he joined the Mets in 2010. This is one easy victory he can cherish forever.