Knuckleballer Dickey, Price win Cy Young awards

By Larry Fine, Reuters

Posted at Nov 15 2012 10:21 AM | Updated as of Nov 15 2012 06:21 PM

NEW YORK - R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets became the first knuckleball pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, while Tampa Bay Rays' left-hander David Price won the American League's top pitching award after the closest vote in 43 years.

Dickey, who turned 38 last month, confounded hitters by being able to change speeds on his dipping, darting knuckleball, posting a 20-6 record with a 2.73 earned run average. He led the National League in innings (233.2) and strikeouts (230).

It was a breakthrough year for Dickey, who the previous season was 8-13 and has a career mark of 61-56 over 10 seasons.

"This was a victory for all of us," Dickey said about the fraternity of knuckleball pitchers in a conference call. "It brings a real legitimacy to this pitch. Gives a shout-out to all those pitchers who used it before me. A victory for all of us."

Dickey received 27 of 32 first-place votes cast and five second-place votes for a comfortable win with 209 points.

Finishing second was last year's winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The lefty, who was 14-4 with a league-leading 2.53 ERA, got 98 points, with Washington Nationals' left-hander Gio Gonzalez (21-8, 2.89 ERA) taking third place.

The hard-throwing Price, 27, was second in the American League voting two years ago but came out on top this time.

He edged out last season's Cy Young and Most Valuable Player winner Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers in the closest voting in the 56 years of the award other than a 1969 tie between the Orioles' Mike Cuellar and the Tigers' Denny McLain.

Price (20-5, 2.56 ERA) was named first on 14 of the 28 ballots and totalled 153 points, while Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA) received 13 first-place votes and garnered 149 points.

Jered Weaver (20-5, 2.81 ERA) of the Los Angeles Angels was a distant third in the voting.

"It means a ton, it's very humbling," Price, who like Dickey comes from Nashville, Tennessee, told MLB TV.

"My legs are shaking right now."

Price saluted Verlander for the season he had, and said he was looking forward to getting back on the mound next year.

"This game is forever changing and that's something I'm looking forward to," added Price. "My last three starts this year felt like I figured out something with that changeup and the curveball. I'm looking forward to the 2013 season."

Dickey, who said he leaped up from his couch and clapped his hands after hearing Price's name called for the American League award, was also humbled.

"It's a real honour to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest pitchers," said Dickey. "For me, this is an honor to be shared.

"A few of those men are some of the knuckleballers that have had incredible seasons that didn't necessarily get acknowledged for their feats, like Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough."

Dickey thanked the Mets for giving him a shot by signing him in 2010 when he went overlooked as a free agent, and allowing him to find the touch on the knuckleball, a pitch pushed from the hand in its delivery to impart as little spin as possible, enabling it to move unpredictably through the air.

(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Julian Linden and Greg Stutchbury)