This is the kind of stuff that was predicted for David Price from the moment he joined the Tampa Bay Rays. The 2012 winner of the American League Cy Young award is a deserving winner who probably should have won the award two years ago, too. Price exhibited season-long, sustained excellence to gain this recognition, but there was stiff competition from other pitchers recording first-rate seasons, too, so he was not a shoo-in.
The ace of Tampa Bay’s staff, Price was 20-5, with the 20 victories equal to the league best. The imposing, 6-foot-6, 220-pound southpaw also notched the best earned run average in the league at 2.56 and he struck out 205. Two years ago Price went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and was the Cy Young runnerup. That was the year voters lost their minds and chose Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners for the Cy Young award even though his record was only 13-12. Hernandez was fourth this year.
Price has had some special moments since he broke into the majors with a cameo five years ago, but the 2012 season displayed a mature, consistent pitcher at the top of his game all year long as he was selected for the All-Star team a third time.
Tampa Bay has had a lot of players come and go in a half-decade, some of them because the team didn’t want to pay them the free-agent going rate. But if the Rays ever let Price walk there might be a rebellion among fans. It could be a more intense reaction than Albert Pujols trotting out of St. Louis. Despite his ups and downs in-between his great seasons, Price’s lifetime record is 61-31.
Price out-pointed Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers by a slim four points to win this award and I think the voters made the right choice, for much the same reason as I believe they made the wrong choice with Hernandez two years ago. The bottom line is winning and two years ago Price won a lot more often than Hernandez. This year Price won more than Verlander, the 2011 runaway Cy Young award winner.
Verlander had another excellent year, but his record was 17-8. His earned run average was 2.64, slightly worse than Price’s. Those are two major categories where Price had the edge, especially wins and losses, which is the most important category. Verlander led the league in strikeouts with 239, complete games with six, and innings pitched with 238 1/3.
And what of poor Jered Weaver, who had the best year of his life, going 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA? He was shunted aside, a distant third in the voting. The Angels pitcher must be thinking, What do I have to do? In a season with several starters who had such high-quality records, there was no room at the top of the Cy Young voting for Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney, either, who was as remarkable as any thrower with an 0.60 earned run average and 48 saves. Rodney has already won the AL comeback player of the year award.
All of these guys had terrific seasons, but Price was the correct winner of the award this time.