Justin Verlander, generally regarded as the most dominant pitcher in the game, was beaten out by Tampa Bay’s David Price for the American League Cy Young Award and the New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey became the first knuckleball pitcher to win the National League Cy Young in a historic day of announcements.
Price, who was 20-5 on the season, edged the Detroit Tiger ace by just four points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Other than a 1969 tie between Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain, it was the tightest race in the history of the AL award.
Meanwhile, Dickey, who was the Mets’ first cut two years ago, became the first hurler with the unconventional pitch to take the top honors in pitching. The award caps an eventful year for Dickey, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in January, published a memoir during spring training that included detailing sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a child, tossed a franchise record 32 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings during the first half and made his first All-Star team.
Dickey’s three shutouts in 2012 were the most by a David Cone’s five in 1992. He led the National League in quality starts (27), strikeouts (230) and innings pitched (233 2/3) while finishing second in ERA at 2.73 to Kershaw’s 2.53.
Dickey’s 20-win season marked the first by a Met since Frank Viola in 1990 and the sixth in team history.
As for Price, he was the runner up last year. This time, he received 14 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 153 points. Verlander, who was 17-8 on the year, was chosen first on 13 ballots.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney received the other first-place vote and came in fifth.
Price went 20-5 to tie Jered Weaver for the American League lead in victories and winning percentage. The 27-year-old lefty had the lowest ERA at 2.56 and finished sixth in strikeouts with 205.
Verlander, also the league MVP a year ago, followed that up by going 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and pitching the Detroit Tigers to the World Series. He led the majors in strikeouts (239), innings (238 1-3) and complete games (six).
Price tossed 211 innings in 31 starts, while Verlander made 33. One factor that might have swung some votes, however: Price faced stiffer competition in the rugged AL East than Verlander did in the AL Central.
Weaver came in third with 70 points, but was listed second on a pair of ballots. The right-hander threw a no-hitter and had a 2.81 ERA in his first 20-win season but missed time with injuries and totaled only 188 2-3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels.
The top pick in the 2007 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt, Price reached the majors the following year and has made three straight All-Star teams.
Despite going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 2010, he finished a distant second in Cy Young voting to Felix Hernandez, who won only 13 games for last-place Seattle but dominated most other statistical categories that year.
Verlander was trying to become the first AL pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000. San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum did it in the National League in 2008-09.