New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey capped a storybook 2012 season by being named the National League's Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America, with Tampa Bay Rays southpaw David Price capturing the honor in the American League when results were released on Wednesday.
Dickey, a journeyman knuckleball specialist who had never recorded more than 11 victories in any of his previous nine major league seasons, was named first on 27-of-32 ballots cast to easily outdistance 2011 NL Cy Young recipient Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Price, meanwhile, edged out reigning Cy Young honoree Justin Verlander of Detroit by a mere four points in the closest vote in AL history except for 1969, when Baltimore's Mike Cuellar and the Tigers' Denny McClain shared the award after tying in the balloting.
The Tampa ace was first on 14 of the 28 ballots placed and second on 13 others, while also receiving one third-place vote for a total of 153 points. Verlander earned 13 first-place votes, 13 seconds and was third on two other ballots to tabulate 149 points.
Dickey also had five second-place votes to finish with 209 points -- 113 more than Kershaw -- after putting together one of the more remarkable and unexpected individual seasons in recent memory. The former castoff topped the Senior Circuit in strikeouts (230), shutouts (3), complete games (5), innings pitched (233.2) and games started (33) while compiling a 20-6 record and a 2.73 earned run average.
The 38-year-old also became the first pitcher in major league history to throw 1-hit complete games with 10 or more strikeouts in consecutive starts when he accomplished the feat between June 13-18.
Dickey, who became the Mets' first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990, entered 2012 owning a lackluster 41-50 record with a 4.34 ERA. The right- hander had bounced around four different organizations (Texas, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Seattle) before joining the Mets in 2010 and beginning a career resurrection by posting an 11-9 mark with a 2.84 ERA over 27 games (26 starts) that year.
His 2012 achievements were made even more noteworthy when Dickey disclosed late in the season that he had been pitching through a torn abdominal muscle since April.
Price's path to his hardware has been far less twisting than that of Dickey's, as the hard-throwing lefty has experienced sustained success since breaking into the majors near the end of the 2008 season. His performance took a significant leap forward this year, however, with the three-time All-Star amassing a 20-5 record with 205 strikeouts and a league-best 2.56 ERA.
The 27-year-old, who finished second to Seattle's Felix Hernandez in the 2010 AL Cy Young race after going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, also tied for the AL lead with 25 quality starts and surrendered just 16 home runs -- the second-fewest among Junior Circuit hurlers who threw 200 or more innings -- to become the first pitcher in Rays history to take home the award.
Price also held opposing hitters to an AL-low .318 slugging percentage and topped the majors with 23 starts of seven innings or more.
The 2007 No. 1 overall pick was particularly dominant when pitching in the rugged AL East, with Price registering a glossy 10-2 record with a 2.51 ERA in 16 starts against divisional foes.
Verlander, a unanimous winner a year ago who was also named the AL's MVP for 2011, stated his case for a repeat by going 17-8 with a league-high 239 strikeouts and placing second behind Price with a 2.64 ERA.
Despite matching Price with a 20-5 composite mark and ranking third in the AL in ERA (2.81), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim standout Jered Weaver finished a distant third with 70 points. The fiery right-hander earned just two second place votes while being third on 14 ballots.
Price's teammate, Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, garnered the only other first-place vote and wound up fifth overall, one spot behind Hernandez.
Kershaw, who bested the NL with a 2.53 ERA and finished second in strikeouts (229) while producing a 14-9 record, recorded two first-place votes, 11 seconds and 10 thirds for 96 points. Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez, the major league leader with 21 wins to go along with a 2.78 ERA, was a close third with 93 points after securing one first-place vote, 12 seconds and being placed third on six ballots.
Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto and Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel also received one first-place distinction and ended fourth and fifth, respectively.