Gio Gonzalez led the National League in wins. But c'mon, "wins"? [Laughs dismissively] The 26-going-on-27-year-old left-hander acquired in a December 2011 trade with the Oakland A's had the NL's fourth-highest K total, with 207 Ks, tied w/ the Phillies' Cliff Lee behind Lee's teammate Cole Hamels (216), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (229) and the Mets' R.A. Dickey (230 Ks), but had the National League's highest K/9 with (9.35 K/9) ahead of the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and the Cards' Lance Lynn, who both ended the year with 9.27 K/9. Gonzalez had the NL's lowest HR/9 (0.41 HR/9) ahead of the Braves' Tim Hudson and the Astros' Lucas Harrell who tied for 2nd with 0.60 HR/9 allowed. The Nats' lefty's .201 BAA was the National League's lowest, ahead of LA's Kershaw (.204) and the Giants' Matt Cain (.217).
Gonzalez's BABIP against (.267) was the NL's fifth-lowest behind the Reds' Mat Latos (.266), the Cards' Kyle Lohse and Kershaw (tied at .262), Cain (.259) and the Braves' Mike Minor (.252). Gonzalez's ERA (2.89) was the NL's sixth-lowest, ahead of teammate Jordan Zimmermann (2.94) but behind Lohse (2.86), Cain (2.79), the Reds' Johnny Cueto (2.78), R.A. Dickey (2.67) and Kershaw who had the NL's lowest ERA (2.53) for the second-straight season. Gonzalez's FIP (2.82) was also the NL's lowest ahead of Kershaw's (2.89) and the D-Backs' Wade Miley's (3.04).
Fangraphs.com's WAR had Gonzalez second in the NL (+5.4 fWAR) behind only Kershaw (+5.5 fWAR) and the ahead of Miley (+5.0 fWAR). Baseball-Reference's WAR had Kershaw on top as well (+6.2 bWAR) ahead of the Reds' Cueto (+5.8 bWAR), Dickey (+5.6 bWAR) and Gonzalez (+4.5 bWAR).
When Davey Johnson was asked if he thought Gio Gonzalez was the favorite for the 2012 NL Cy Young Award toward the end of Gonzalez's first season in the National League, Johnson said he'd give it to his starter. "Hands down," the 69-year-old baseball lifer told reporters.
What impressed the Nationals' manager most wasn't the fact that Gonzalez finished 1st in Wins, 1st in BAA and first 1st in K/9 in the NL, but the fact that he finished second overall in hits allowed (6.727 H/9) behind only the Dodgers' Kershaw, who had the NL's lowest (6.720 H/9). "My thing is hits-per-inning," Johnson told reporters, "That tells you what kind of pitcher and stuff he has. His are phenomenal. I don't think I've ever had somebody who has that few hits per inning."
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo argued on his pitcher's behalf too in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this past September, telling the hosts he thought what Gonzalez did was more impressive than some other Cy Young candidates who had great years on non-contending teams. "He is the guy that down the stretch has been the most consistent pitcher on the team with the best record in baseball," Rizzo said, "And I think that's what the Cy Young award is supposed to be. The best pitcher on the best team and the guy that's pitching pressure games at the end of the season and not the pitcher, who may be a terrific pitcher, but [is] pitching games that are much less [meaningful] at the end of the year."
The Nationals' left-hander will find out tonight if he made the cut for the final three candidates for Cy Young consideration when Major League baseball announces the finalist for all of its 2012 Awards on the MLB Network:
Will Gio Gonzalez be an NL Cy Young finalist? Davey Johnson a finalist for NL Manager of the Year? Bryce Harper for NL ROY? Will any Nats end up finalists for the NL's MVP? Check back tonight to see which Nats made the cut. The Silver Slugger awards will be handed out tomorrow (11/8). AL and NL Rookies of the Year are announced on 11/12. Managers of the Year on 11/13. Cy Young on 11/14 and MVPs on 11/15.