The National League Cy Young Award race could very well be one of the most competitive in recent history. There are several candidates who have a real chance of winning this award, but I am going to discuss the top two contenders in a little bit more detail.
RA Dickey has been leading the New York Mets to victory after victory. He is second in the National League with 18 wins and he is leading the way with his 2.67 ERA. He is almost averaging a strikeout per inning, and his credentials like that, he will definitely be in consideration.
Gio Gonzalez on the other hand has won 19 games for the Washington Nationals and is carrying a 2.95 ERA. He is actually averaging over a strikeout per inning, and opponents are only managing to hit .207 against him.
Matt Cain, Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels will undoubtedly be in the conversation as well, but each one has a drawback that will keep them a little bit behind the top two. For Cain, his win total is a little bit low at 15. For Cueto, his numbers are very similar to Gonzalez except for opponents are hitting almost 50 points better against him. Finally, Hamels will be like Cain and will be hurt by only having 15 wins.
These three men definitely have a chance, but if you think about probabilities, they are a bit lower.
Now, how can we differentiate among the top two?
If you ask the sabermetricians at FanGraphs, they would tell you that in terms of wins above replacement, Gonzalez would have the victory in the National League.
Some people would scoff at that statistic and say that it really means nothing, and in terms of more generally accepted statistics, it seems as if Dickey has the edge as well.
Gonzalez is ahead of Dickey in terms of wins, home runs allowed, strikeout per nine innings and batting average against. Consequently, that means that Dickey is ahead in ERA, innings pitched, walks allowed and WHIP.
Well, that doesn’t really help a lot since they both lead in four major categories. However, in my mind, the advantage goes to Dickey because of the win totals. Gonzalez is pitching for the Washington Nationals, and quite honestly, it is much easier to pile up victories in the District of Columbia than it has been in New York this year.
This is going to be a tight race, but when you consider what RA Dickey has done for the New York Mets this season, if everything stays roughly similar, he will have the edge.