R.A. Dickey has 79 MiLB wins, 61 in MLB. I wonder who was last pitcher to win Cy Young at point in career where MiLB wins outnumbered MLB.
— Benjamin Hill (@bensbiz) March 5, 2013
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|
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|
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|