Tonight’s matchup of the Mets and Washington Nationals gets about as anticipated as a game can get with no postseason at stake. The Mets, after all, have had just two Cy Young winners in their 50 year history — Tom Seaver (1969, 1973 and 1975) and Dwight Gooden (1985). I don’t know whether R.A. Dickey is the frontrunner for this year’s National League honors – there are stories circulating that some old-time sportswriters think of Dickey as a sensational fluke or that his knuckleball is an amusing gimmick. But by at least one serious evaluation, he is the leading candidate.
Eight years ago Bill James and Rob Neyer, then of ESPN
and now of SB Nation, published a method for rating Cy Young
candidates based on past results. You don’t have to be a math whiz to
understand it – essentially it awards points for finishing at or near
the top in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts, et al. There’s also a VB or
Victory Bonus, 12-points awarded for leading your team to a division
championship. Guess Dickey will have to do without that boost.
According to James/Neyer’s Cy Young Points, the two leading National
League candidates – in fact, the two worthiest pitchers in either
league – are Dickey and Washington’s Gio Gonzalez. Gio beat the Mets
last night, going six inning, allowing three hits and just one earned
run while striking out six (though he walked five). That gives Gio 169.6
CYPs for the season.
Going into tonight’s game, Dickey has an 18-4 record against
Gonzalez’s 19-7, has a better ERA (2.64 to 2.93) pitched 16.9 more
innings (198 to 181.1) and has more strikeouts (195 to 191). . He also
has more shutouts, 3, a category he leads the league in.
Again, Gio is going to earn that Victory Bonus for leading the
Nationals to the NL East title, but if Dickey is impressive tonight,
surely it will count for something that he beat the division winner
while pitching for a team that gives him considerably less run support.
So, let’s show up in force tonight at Citifield to lend our support,
and if you’re watching on TV, try to project some good vibes for R.A.