NEW YORK -- In perhaps a hint at further hardware to come, Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey took home his first offseason award Monday evening when the MLB Players Association revealed its annual Players Choice Awards.
Dickey took home Outstanding Pitcher honors in the National League, as voted by his peers. It's a promising sign for Dickey leading up to the Nov. 14 announcement of the NL Cy Young Award, considering that four of the NL's last five Outstanding Pitchers went on to win the Cy.
Dickey submitted his best season ever in 2012, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts. At age 37, he led the NL in innings, strikeouts, shutouts and complete games, ranking second in both ERA and wins. Following his final start of the season, Dickey revealed that he had been pitching since April with a torn abdominal muscle, which he had surgically repaired last month.
To become the NL's Outstanding Pitcher, Dickey beat out fellow finalists Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals and Johnny Cueto of the Reds, both of whom figure to receive significant Cy Young support. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Braves' Craig Kimbrel also should factor into the Cy Young vote, which will be revealed next Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
But the odds-on Cy Young favorite for months has been Dickey, whose story includes a decadelong slog through the Minors, a rebirth with the Mets as a knuckleballer in 2010, a book deal and starring role in a documentary, a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, a 20-win season and now this: the first of what certainly will be many awards to come.
"The award would obviously be nice," Dickey said of the Cy in September. "That would be silly to say that it wouldn't be fantastic. But at the same time, you've got to be able to lay your head on your pillow, whether you've won it or not, and know that you've done your best. And I can do that.
"A 20-win season is also very difficult to get, and thankfully we've been able to do that. So at the very least, to be able to say that you were a 20-game winner for the New York Mets? That's pretty significant for me."
Adding to his offseason intrigue, Dickey's future with the Mets is currently in flux, with the two sides attempting to negotiate a long-term contract extension -- and bracing for the potential of a blockbuster trade if they cannot reach an agreement. But if either party needed reminder of the knuckleballer's greatness in 2012, the Players Choice Awards on Monday provided it.
The MLBPA has presented an array of Players Choice Awards each year since 1992, honoring each league's outstanding player, rookie, pitcher and comeback player, in addition to Player of the Year and Man of the Year awards that span both leagues. Under the supervision of the accounting firm KPMG, players voted on the 2012 awards on Sept. 19.
This year's winners in all categories will select charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the MLB Players Trust, which raises funds and attention and promotes community involvement for issues affecting the needy. Since 1992, the Trust has recognized the performances of Players Choice winners by contributing more than $3 million to charities around the world. After the award announcement was made on MLB Network, Dickey said he would donate his $20,000 to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
The Players Choice Awards are unrelated to MLB's Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year awards, which select members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted on in September. The BBWAA will release the results of those ballots next week.