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Who Should Have Won the 2012 NL Cy Young Award?

Let me preface this post by saying that I have nothing against R.A. Dickey, who won the 2012 NL Cy Young Award this year. Dickey had an incredible season, and his story is both amazing and inspirational. Plus, it’s always fun to say, “Dickey.”

There, now that I’ve said that … let me tell you who should have won the 2012 NL Cy Young.

Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel should have won the Cy Young, and the fact that he wasn’t even really in the discussion is downright mind-boggling.

2012 NL Cy Young Discussion

Eric Gagne

Dodgers closer Eric Gagne was the last closer to win a Cy Young Award, back in 2003.

I understand the argument that Kimbrel is a closer and that he might not be as important to his team as a starting pitcher. Kimbrel only pitches 55-70 innings opposed to 180-plus for a starter. I get it. That doesn’t change my mind. Remember, there have been a few closers, like Eric Gagne and Dennis Eckersley, who have won pitching’s biggest award — so it’s not that far-fetched.

Let’s take a look back at the last closer to win the Cy Young — Gagne in 2003.

That year, Gagne had a league-leading 55 saves with a 1.20 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 82.1 innings. He also posted a mesmerizing 0.692 WHIP and 15.0 K/9. When all was said and done, Gagne finished with 28 first-place votes and won the Cy Young easily.

Kimbrel had a better season this year, yet he finished fifth on the ballot and had just one first-place vote.

In 62.2 innings, the youngster had a league-leading 42 saves with a 1.01 ERA. Yes — 1.01. He allowed just seven runs all year.

Let me further blow your mind.

Kimbrel faced 231 batters and struck out 116 of them! I’ll allow that to sink in for a few seconds.

In other words, he struck out 50.2% of the batters he faced. Let me say that again… he struck out over half of the batters he faced! In 2003, Gagne struck out 44.8% of the batters he faced (still a remarkable number).

Kimbrel’s also posted an almost-unbelievable WHIP of 0.654 and averaged 16.7 K/9. His numbers are straight out of Little League.

Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young Award, but he is generally believed to be the best closer of all-time.

Rivera’s best ERA over the course of a season? 1.38 in 2005. Rivera’s career-best WHIP? 0.665 in 2008.

As mentioned, I understand the argument against Kimbrel and I’m certainly not taking anything away from R.A. Dickey.

But at the same time, Kimbrel just put together a season for the ages — one that I doubt we’ll ever see duplicated. And he finished FIFTH in the 2012 NL Cy Young balloting. What a sham.

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