With New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey being the losing pitcher in last night’s game against the Washington Nationals, he failed to collect his 19th win of the season (well, the Mets failed to collect the win for him, as R.A. only gave up 3 runs), which leaves him second to the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez who has a league leading 19 wins.
It’s been quite a race between Dickey and Gonzalez, as for the last couple of weeks they have been flip flopping the one and two positions in terms of wins in the National League. Both pitchers have been on top all season long, and with the season winding down, the contest for the Cy Young is heating up.
So that leads to the question: Does having the most number of wins have a significant impact on the chances of winning the Cy Young?
I looked back at the last 11 years of National League Cy Young winners. I used 11 because in 2003 the winner was Eric Gagne, who was a relief pitcher, and I want to focus on starters only.
This is what I found:
In both 2011 and 2010 winners Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay were both atop the league in terms of wins. Tim Lincecum won in 2009 and 2008, although neither of those years did he have the most wins. In fact in 2009 he was 4th in the league with only 15. In 2007 and 2006 Jake Peavy’s 19 wins and Brandon Webb’s 16 wins were enough to lead the league in their award winning seasons. In 2005 and 2004 Chris Carpenter and Roger Clemens won the award despite finishing second in the win column.
That’s four years where the league leader in wins won the award, and four years where the award winner was not on top.
That brings me to 2002. Randy Johnson had a dominating season with 24 wins which put him at the top of the list. However when he won the award in 2001 he was just third in the league.
So in the last ten years where the Cy Young Award was given to a starting pitcher, exactly half of those winners were the league leader in wins and half weren’t.
I love baseball statistics, as they are never conclusive, and at the end of the day mean nothing.
The baseball writers who vote on the award can see that Dickey has been consistently dominant throughout the season. And they know he’s on a failing team. I have every faith that wins will not be the determining factor in choosing this year’s recipient.