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SBN Awards: Pitcher Of The Year

Here's the next pair of SB Nation Awards for the 2012 season, which are for the Pitcher of the Year in both the National and American Leagues. In at least one of these, the race was pretty close...

Mike Zarrilli

Player Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Pts
R.A. Dickey New York Mets 13 11 6 2 - 157
Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers 11 12 8 2 1 154
Gio Gonzalez Washington Nationals 9 7 7 6 5 129
Johnny Cueto Cincinnati Reds 2 4 7 8 6 73
Cliff Lee Philadelphia Phillies - - 5 4 3 26
Matt Cain San Francisco Giants - - 1 5 4 17
Cole Hamels Philadelphia Phillies - 1 - 3 5 15
Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves - - 1 2 6 13
Wade Miley Arizona Diamondbacks - - - 3 1 7
Kris Medlen Atlanta Braves - - - - 3 3
Lance Lynn St. Louis Cardinals - - - - 1 1

As before, voting on behalf of the SnakePit was by John Baragona and Zavada's Moustache. Here are their comments on the ballots they submitted.

John Baragona

  1. Gio Gonzalez
  2. Johnny Cueto
  3. Clayton Kershaw
  4. Matt Cain
  5. R.A. Dickey

This one goes to Gio Gonzalez who was a masterful addition to the Nationals and a key cog in their drive to the NL East crown. He led the league in Wins, WAR and K/9 and so for me it wasn't really a tough decision to place him first on my ballot. Kershaw got consideration from me for the top spot and if his team hadn't let him down in some of his starts he might have earned my top vote. His WAR came in just under that of Gonzalez and ahead of other stalwarts such as Cain, Cueto and Dickey.

Dickey might be the favorite for some due to his remarkable W/L percentage on a bad team and he was hard to ignore. But he was not pitching in many high leverage situations which I put a lot of stock into. There's a lot to be said for pitching stressful innings and Dickey didn't have to pitch that many. Ask the U.S. Ryder Cup team if there's any difference performing under team pressure. That's ultimately why the second position on my ballot went to Johnny Cueto who was amazingly consistent for the Reds throughout their season-long push to the NL Central title. Cueto didn't post any numbers that jump out at you on the page, but he was just rock solid all season long.

My final spot ultimately went to Matt Cain even though his 3.9 WAR came in below others including Wade Miley, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Adam Wainwright. He was another guy who anchored a staff throughout a season-long playoff run, and he just barely beats out Wainwright on my ballot, who essentially did the same thing in St. Louis. Cain's consistency won out for me as Wainwright had a few more stinkers throughout the year, that plus Cain's perfect game.

Zavada's Moustache

  1. Johnny Cueto
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. R. A. Dickey
  4. Cliff Lee
  5. Gio Gonzalez

Honestly, there are a lot of pretty good answers here. There wasn't anyone in the NL who just blew away the competition like, say, '11 Justin Verlander did. After much debate, I went with Cueto, mostly on the basis that he had the second-lowest ERA in the league behind Kershaw. And unlike Kershaw, he plays his home games in a famously hitter-friendly venue.

The FIPniks are getting ready to point out that Cueto has a higher FIP and xFIP than the other top contenders, which in turn results in a lower fWAR. That's all well and good, and it points to him not being as good next year, but an award that's intended to be evaluative rather than predictive, I'll take the breakthrough ace of a playoff team with the sub-3 ERA in one of the hardest places to pitch in baseball.

I realize that it looks like I'm biased against Kershaw here, but that really isn't the case. Honestly, I went into the voting process planning to rank him lower, since he just didn't seem as dominant this year. But his stats caught me by surprise. If you haven't, go take a look at what constitutes an "off" season from Kershaw. You'll be impressed. Like the national media, I had no idea what to do with R.A. Dickey, but he certainly deserves a spot. A lot of people had Gio Gonzalez higher on their ballot, but I had trouble with the fact that he didn't get to 200 innings despite not missing a start. On a team that lost Strasburg down the stretch, inning count can make a big difference.

And of course, I chose Cliff Lee because that whole situation is hilarious.

[Here are the results for the American League.]

Player Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Pts
Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers 23 1 2 - - 171
David Price Tampa Bay Rays 2 17 7 - - 103
Felix Hernandez Seattle Mariners - 6 11 7 1 72
Chris Sale Chicago White Sox - - 4 10 4 36
Jered Weaver Los Angeles Angels 1 - 2 3 4 23
Fernando Rodney Tampa Bay Rays - 2 - 3 4 18
Matt Harrison Texas Rangers - - - 1 3 5
CC Sabathia New York Yankees - - - 1 1 3
Max Scherzer Detroit Tigers - - - - 3 3
Yu Darvish Texas Rangers - - - - 3 3
Jim Johnson Baltimore Orioles - - - 1 - 2
Hiroki Kuroda New York Yankees - - - - 1 1
Jake Peavy Chicago White Sox - - - - 1 1
James Shields Tampa Bay Rays - - - - 1 1