Tuesday, March 5, 2013

R.A. Dickey and Having More Wins in the Minors Than in the Majors

Earlier today, Ben Hill (@bensbiz and Ben's Biz Blog, a great follow for baseball fans, especially those who love minor league ball) dropped this tidbit about reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey:
 
Well, I couldn't help myself. I looked at each Cy winner's career win total both before and after their award-winning season and compared it to their MiLB win total. The complete chart is at the bottom of this post.

There have been 16 pitchers that entered their Cy Young season with more minor league wins than major league wins. Dickey is part of an even more exclusive club, as he is one of only five hurlers that had fewer big league victories even after winning the award.




Pitcher Year Team Wins Pre Cy Cy Season Wins Wins Post Cy MiLB Wins MiLB-Pre
LaMarr Hoyt 1983 CWS 37 24 61 76 -39
R.A. Dickey 2012 NYM 41 20 61 79 -38
Vida Blue 1971 OAK 3 24 27 31 -28
Eric Gagne 2003 LAD 15 2 17 36 -21
Mike Cuellar 1969 BAL 42 23 65 63 -21
Fernando Valenzuela 1981 LAD 2 13 15 14 -12
Mark Davis 1989 SD 36 4 40 46 -10
Bob Turley 1958 NYY 54 21 75 63 -9
Ron Guidry 1978 NYY 16 25 41 24 -8
Mike Marshall 1974 LAD 40 15 55 48 -8
Dwight Gooden 1985 NYM 17 24 41 24 -7
Bret Saberhagen 1985 KC 10 20 30 16 -6
Roy Halladay 2003 TOR 37 22 59 41 -4
Dean Chance 1964 LAA 27 20 47 31 -4
Willie Hernandez 1984 DET 34 9 45 37 -3
Mike Scott 1986 HOU 47 18 65 48 -1

As expected, the list is comprised mostly of young phenoms (Blue, Valenzuela, Gooden, Saberhagen) and relievers (Gagne, Davis, Marshall, Hernandez). When we remove the 11 pitchers that surpassed their MiLB win total during their Cy season, we are left with these five:




Pitcher Year Team Wins Pre Cy Cy Season Wins Wins Post Cy MiLB Wins MiLB-Post
Eric Gagne 2003 LAD 15 2 17 36 -19
R.A. Dickey 2012 NYM 41 20 61 79 -18
LaMarr Hoyt 1983 CWS 37 24 61 76 -15
Mark Davis 1989 SD 36 4 40 46 -6
Vida Blue 1971 OAK 3 24 27 31 -4

Gagne and Davis are closers, hence their low win totals. Blue had only made 18 big league appearances before dominating in his age 21 season en route to winning the 1971 A.L. Cy Young and MVP Awards.

Dickey's rise is so unique, but there are some similarities between him and the remaining pitcher on the list, LaMarr Hoyt. Drafted by the Yankees in 1973 and dealt to the White Sox for Bucky Dent in 1977, Hoyt logged over 1,000 innings of work in the minors. He racked up 76 wins over eight seasons before making the bigs at 25. He split time between the rotation and the bullpen before becoming a starter for good in 1982. It paid off as he posted a 115 ERA+ and led the Junior Circuit in wins with 19.

Things got even batter in 1983. He went 24-10, thanks in part to a miniscule walk rate (1.1 per 9 IP, 31 in 260.2 IP) and good run support (Chicago scored six or more runs in 15 of his 32 starts). He helped lead the upstart ChiSox to the Western Division crown and outdueled Scott McGregor a 2-1 ALCS-opening win over Baltimore. However, the O's won three straight on their way to the championship.

After leading the league in losses in 1984 with 18, Hoyt was traded to San Diego for four players, one of whom was future skipper Ozzie Guillen. Hoyt's Padres tenure started off well, as he made the All-Star team and was named the Midsummer Classic's MVP. But his career was quickly derailed by drugs as three arrests in 1986 led to a suspension. After another arrest in 1987, his career was finished.

While Hoyt's promising career took a wrong turn, Dickey's was seemingly a lost cause before he revived it by having success as a knuckleballer. The righty didn't debut in the majors until he was 26. He was pretty much a quadruple-A pitcher, working 1,283 minor league innings until he landed with the Mets with the knuckler in 2010.

His marvelous resurgence culminated in last season's Cy Young campaign, which placed him in this company.

After his trade to the Toronto Blue Jays, Dickey becomes the third reigning Cy Young winner to begin the following season in the other league. Davis left San Diego to sign with the Royals in 1990 and Pedro Martinez signed with the Red Sox in 1998 after taking home Cy honors as an Expo the year before. It's worth noting that Frank Viola (1988 Twins to Mets), CC Sabathia, (2007 Indians to Brewers) and Cliff Lee (2008 Indians to Phillies) won the A.L. Cy Young and were all traded to the N.L. the following July.

Another neat oddity I noticed: both 2012 Cy Young winners finished the season with exactly 61 career wins. That has never happened before, as the closest two Cy winners had been after taking home the hardware was in 1969. Mike Cuellar had 65 W's after sharing the honor with Denny McLain and N.L. winner Tom Seaver was eight wins behind him with 57. The widest win gap between yearly Cy winners was in 2004, with Roger Clemens (328) outpacing Johan Santana (43) by 285.

The pair of winners that had the most combined victories was Roger Clemens (280) and Randy Johnson (200) in 2001. The pair that had the fewest was Dwight Gooden (41) and Bret Saberhagen (30) in 1985.




Pitcher Year Team Wins Pre Cy Cy Season Wins Wins Post Cy MiLB Wins
R.A. Dickey 2012 NYM 41 20 61 79
David Price 2012 TB 41 20 61 13
Clayton Kershaw 2011 LAD 26 21 47 12
Justin Verlander 2011 DET 83 24 107 11
Roy Halladay 2010 PHI 148 21 169 41
Felix Hernandez 2010 SEA 58 13 71 30
Tim Lincecum 2009 SF 25 15 40 6
Zack Greinke 2009 KC 34 16 50 24
Tim Lincecum 2008 SF 7 18 25 6
Cliff Lee 2008 CLE 54 22 76 28
Jake Peavy 2007 SD 57 19 76 35
CC Sabathia 2007 CLE 81 19 100 13
Brandon Webb 2006 ARZ 31 16 47 17
Johan Santana 2006 MIN 59 19 78 20
Chris Carpenter 2005 STL 64 21 85 23
Bartolo Colon 2005 LAA 118 21 139 32
Roger Clemens 2004 HOU 310 18 328 10
Johan Santana 2004 MIN 23 20 43 20
Eric Gagne 2003 LAD 15 2 17 36
Roy Halladay 2003 TOR 37 22 59 41
Randy Johnson 2002 ARZ 200 24 224 28
Barry Zito 2002 OAK 24 23 47 14
Randy Johnson 2001 ARZ 179 21 200 28
Roger Clemens 2001 NYY 260 20 280 9
Randy Johnson 2000 ARZ 160 19 179 28
Pedro Martinez 2000 BOS 107 18 125 33
Randy Johnson 1999 ARZ 143 17 160 28
Pedro Martinez 1999 BOS 84 23 107 33
Tom Glavine 1998 ATL 153 20 173 29
Roger Clemens 1998 TOR 213 20 233 9
Pedro Martinez 1997 MON 48 17 65 33
Roger Clemens 1997 TOR 192 21 213 9
John Smoltz 1996 ATL 90 24 114 21
Pat Hentgen 1996 TOR 47 20 67 41
Greg Maddux 1995 ATL 131 19 150 36
Randy Johnson 1995 SEA 81 18 99 28
Greg Maddux 1994 ATL 115 16 131 36
David Cone 1994 KC 95 16 111 47
Greg Maddux 1993 ATL 95 20 115 36
Jack McDowell 1993 CWS 59 22 81 8
Greg Maddux 1992 CHN 75 20 95 36
Dennis Eckersley 1992 OAK 174 7 181 31
Tom Glavine 1991 ATL 33 20 53 29
Roger Clemens 1991 BOS 116 18 134 9
Doug Drabek 1990 PIT 47 22 69 34
Bob Welch 1990 OAK 149 27 176 9
Mark Davis 1989 SD 36 4 40 46
Bret Saberhagen 1989 KC 69 23 92 16
Orel Hershiser 1988 LAD 60 23 83 35
Frank Viola 1988 MIN 80 24 104 7
Steve Bedrosian 1987 PHI 42 5 47 36
Roger Clemens 1987 BOS 40 20 60 9
Mike Scott 1986 HOU 47 18 65 48
Roger Clemens 1986 BOS 16 24 40 9
Dwight Gooden 1985 NYM 17 24 41 24
Bret Saberhagen 1985 KC 10 20 30 16
Rick Sutcliffe 1984 CHN 53 20 73 44
Willie Hernandez 1984 DET 34 9 45 37
John Denny 1983 PHI 75 19 94 39
LaMarr Hoyt 1983 CWS 37 24 61 76
Steve Carlton 1982 PHI 262 23 285 24
John Vuckovich 1982 MIL 67 18 85 14
Fernando Valenzuela 1981 LAD 2 13 15 14
Rollie Fingers 1981 MIL 101 6 107 38
Steve Carlton 1980 PHI 225 24 249 24
Steve Stone 1980 BAL 78 25 103 32
Bruce Sutter 1979 CHN 21 6 27 12
Mike Flanagan 1979 BAL 37 23 60 35
Gaylord Perry 1978 SD 246 21 267 55
Ron Guidry 1978 NYY 16 25 41 24
Steve Carlton 1977 PHI 168 23 191 24
Sparky Lyle 1977 NYY 57 13 70 17
Randy Jones 1976 SD 35 22 57 12
Jim Palmer 1976 BAL 152 22 174 12
Tom Seaver 1975 NYM 146 22 168 12
Jim Palmer 1975 BAL 129 23 152 12
Mike Marshall 1974 LAD 40 15 55 48
Catfish Hunter 1974 OAK 136 25 161 0
Tom Seaver 1973 NYM 116 19 135 12
Jim Palmer 1973 BAL 100 22 122 12
Steve Carlton 1972 PHI 77 27 104 24
Gaylord Perry 1972 CLE 134 24 158 55
Fergie Jenkins 1971 CHN 91 24 115 43
Vida Blue 1971 OAK 3 24 27 31
Bob Gibson 1970 STL 167 23 190 25
Jim Perry 1970 MIN 126 24 150 38
Tom Seaver 1969 NYM 32 25 57 12
Mike Cuellar 1969 BAL 42 23 65 63
Denny McLain 1969 DET 90 24 114 26
Bob Gibson 1968 STL 125 22 147 25
Denny McLain 1968 DET 59 31 90 26
Mike McCormick 1967 SF 84 22 106 12
Jim Lonborg 1967 BOS 19 22 41 11
Sandy Koufax 1966 LAD 138 27 165 0
Sandy Koufax 1965 LAD 112 26 138 0
Dean Chance 1964 LAA 27 20 47 31
Sandy Koufax 1963 LAD 68 25 93 0
Don Drysdale 1962 LAD 79 25 104 19
Whitey Ford 1961 NYY 133 25 158 51
Vern Law 1960 PIT 82 20 102 19
Early Wynn 1959 CWS 249 22 271 66
Bob Turley 1958 NYY 54 21 75 63
Warren Spahn 1957 MIL 203 21 224 41
Don Newcombe 1956 BKN 85 27 112 52

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