Sunday, September 23, 2012

R.A. Dickey vs. Gio Gonzalez: Stats You Didn't Know

R.A. Dickey.  Gio Gonzalez.  Both pitchers are gunning for the Cy Young Award.  Only one will get it (assuming we don't have a tie a la the 1979 NL MVP vote that got Keith Hernandez a co-MVP Award).

You can go to any site and find comparisons between the two.  Anyone will tell you that Gonzalez leads Dickey by one win and that Dickey leads Gonzalez in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, shutouts and complete games.  But what about the stats you didn't know that should swing the Cy Young vote completely over to Dickey?

Here are those stats.  Once you read them, you'll have no doubt that R.A. Dickey should claim the top prize as the best pitcher in the National League.

R.A. Dickey is a knuckleball pitcher, but is only averaging 1.7 walks per start.  Only five pitchers in the National League (Edinson Volquez, Tim Lincecum, Aaron Harang, Yovani Gallardo, Carlos Zambrano) have walked more batters than Gio Gonzalez.

Despite not possessing a 90-mph fastball, R.A. Dickey has allowed only three stolen bases in six attempts.  Meanwhile, opposing base runners have a 92% success rate against Gio Gonzalez, going 11-for-12 against the Nationals' ace.

Gio Gonzalez has been lifted from three games this year in which the Nationals did not have the lead at the time of his removal, but got credit for the win when his offense gave him the lead in the half inning immediately following his removal.  Dickey has only earned one win in this way.  If not for the Nationals' timely hitting after his removal, Gonzalez would only have 17 wins, one less than the 18 Dickey would have if not for the sole occasion the Mets bailed him out.

The Nationals have scored seven runs or more in half of Gonzalez's 20 victories.  The Mets have scored five runs or less in thirteen of Dickey's 19 wins.

Gio Gonzalez has 21 quality starts (six or more innings pitched allowing three earned runs or less) out of his 31 starts.  He has also failed to get through the sixth inning in seven starts.  Dickey has 25 quality starts and has pitched at least six innings in all but two of his 31 starts.

Finally, Gio Gonzalez has 20 wins, but he's done it for the the team with the best record in baseball.  R.A. Dickey has won one less game than Gonzalez for a team that has 24 fewer wins.  Similarly, Gonzalez has two more losses on a 59-loss team than Dickey has for an 83-loss team.

When in doubt, always vote for the guy who makes a Dickeyface when he releases a pitch.

More often that not, the MVP Award goes to a player with the most impressive numbers on a team that's at or near the top of its division.  This is not always the case for the recipient of the Cy Young Award.

Five of the last six Cy Young Award winners in the National League played for teams that failed to make the playoffs, with the sole exception being Roy Halladay in 2010.  Two of those five winners pitched for teams that finished with losing records.  (Brandon Webb won the award in 2006 for the 76-86 Diamondbacks, while Tim Lincecum earned his hardware in 2008 for a 72-90 Giants team.)

The award is not called the Most Valuable Pitcher Award.  It's called the Cy Young Award.  It's given to the best pitcher in each league.  Gio Gonzalez has had an excellent season, one that is usually worthy of the league's top pitching honor, but R.A. Dickey has been the best pitcher in the National League this year.

Let's hope the voters consider every bit of statistical information available to them before they cast their votes and don't turn the Cy Young Award into the MVP (Most Valuable Pitcher) Award.  They're more than welcome to use the statistical facts from this piece to help them make their decision.

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