R.A. Dickey wins NL Cy Young

Updated: November 16, 2012, 9:27 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

Two years after R.A. Dickey was the first player cut by the New York Mets in spring training, he now has a Cy Young Award on his résumé.

Dickey won the National League Cy Young on Wednesday, becoming the first knuckleballer to receive the honor.

Dickey, who went 20-6, received 27-of-32 first-place votes and 209 overall points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw finished second with two first-place votes and 96 points, followed by Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who received one first-place vote and 93 points.

"Clayton and Gio were both just supernatural in the way that they perform," Dickey told MLB Network. "I've had to hit against them both, and it is ridiculous trying to pick up the ball on those guys. They gave everybody fits. Just being mentioned in the same breath as those guys is an honor.

"But for me, this is an honor to be shared. It's a great honor, and I am not a self-made man by any stretch of the imagination. There have been countless people who have poured into me in a way that has changed my life -- not only on the field, but off."

Dickey congratulated AL Cy Young winner David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays on Twitter: "What a great night. Congrats to David price. A good friend and fantastic competitor."

The 38-year-old Dickey became the third Met to win the award. Tom Seaver received the honor three times (1969, '73, '75), and Dwight Gooden won in 1985.

The award caps an eventful year for Dickey, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in January, published a memoir during spring training that included details of 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.

"We live in a culture now that's got a very progressive mentality, which is fantastic as far as the association of the knuckleball goes," Dickey said. "And that's a compliment to the vision and the imagination of the writers who voted. They didn't see the knuckleball as a trick pitch. They didn't see it as some kind of illegitimate weapon that you can use that isn't worthy. They saw it as a legitimate weapon. It has one purpose, and that's to get big-league hitters out consistently.

"It brings a real degree of legitimacy to the knuckleball fraternity. I'm glad to represent them, and I'm certainly grateful for all of those guys."

Dickey's three shutouts in 2012 were the most by a Met since 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.

After his final start of the season, Dickey revealed he had been pitching through discomfort since April, when he tore an abdominal muscle during a cool night in Philadelphia. He underwent surgery on Oct. 18 to fix the injury, which is not expected to affect him in 2013.

"The training staff -- Ray Ramirez, Brian Chicklo -- those guys really helped me manage it, whether it was the pain or the symptoms," Dickey said. "And it was never anything that I felt like was going to cost me a start or something that I felt like I couldn't keep going from."

Dickey joined the Mets prior to the 2010 season yet did not make the team out of spring training. But he was promoted to the majors in May of that season and has not looked back, posting a 2.95 ERA in 94 career games with the Mets.

"I was the first player cut out of camp (in 2010)," Dickey told MLB Network. "But I was able to get a shot with those guys and I was able to seize an opportunity."

Days after the World Series, the Mets exercised a $5 million team option on Dickey for next season. General manager Sandy Alderson is attempting to sign Dickey to an extension but hasn't ruled out trading him if the sides cannot agree.

"I feel good about being a Met," Dickey said. "I can certainly say that I believe the Mets are going to be a lot better, and I want to be part of the solution. Hopefully we're be able to work something out where I can stay here, and I wouldn't mind finishing my career here.

"I want to be loyal to an organization that has given me a real opportunity. That being said, you never want to be taken advantage of either. I've been on that side of the coin as well as a player. So hopefully we're going to be able to reach some mutually beneficial agreement."

The Mets similarly are attempting to sign third baseman David Wright to an extension after picking up his $16 million team option earlier this month for 2013.

The last reigning Cy Young winner to be traded during the same offseason he won the award was Roger Clemens, who was dealt from the Toronto Blue Jays to New York Yankees on Feb. 18, 1999.

The last reigning NL winner to be immediately traded was Pedro Martinez, who was dealt from the Montreal Expos to the Boston Red Sox on Nov. 18, 1997.

Dickey's 2012 feats include becoming the first pitcher in modern baseball history (since 1900) to record consecutive one-hit shutouts while striking out at least 10 in each start -- on June 13 at Tampa Bay and June 18 vs. Baltimore.

The Mets went 74-88 this past season. Since 2008, half of the 10 Cy Young winners have played for teams that failed to post a winning record -- Dickey as well as Tim Lincecum (San Francisco Giants, 2008) in the NL and Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners, 2010), Zack Greinke (Kansas City Royals, 2009) and Cliff Lee (Cleveland Indians, 2008) in the American League.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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