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Gio comes in third for NL Cy Young Award

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez finished third in voting for the National League Cy Young Award by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday.

Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was the runaway winner, with 209 points, ahead of 96 points for 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Gonzalez's 93 points.

In his first year with Washington, Gonzalez led the Major Leagues with 21 victories, led the team in strikeouts with 207 and had a 2.89 ERA in 32 games. However, Dickey, who went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, led the NL in starts, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched.

Seeing Gonzalez win 20 games was huge for manager Davey Johnson.

"Pitching is the main thing in baseball. ... It's bigger than a hitter, for me, hitting .300," Johnson said not too long ago. "He has had such a phenomenal year."

Johnson said that Gonzalez surpassed expectations after the Nats traded four prospects to the Athletics for him in December 2011.

"He is special. His personality, his competitiveness -- he is fun," Johnson said recently. "My thing is hits per inning. That tells the type of pitcher he is. His [numbers] are phenomenal."

Even before the Cy Young Award voting was announced, Gonzalez's father, Max, was neutral, but it was clear, by the sound of his voice, that he wanted his son to win the award.

"I love Dickey and think Dickey is good for the game. I know he is good," Max Gonzalez said. "But there is a difference between pitching for a playoff contender and pitching for numbers. My son is pitching to stay afloat. It's a different ballgame. I feel that 20 wins, 200 strikeouts and 200 innings are good numbers. Of course, Dickey is awesome. I love Dickey. I also like Johnny Cueto."

Gio Gonzalez credits his father for his success this year. In fact, it was Max who taught his son the fundamentals of pitching, explaining to him how to throw his famous curveball and perform his long-toss program.

It was Max who told his son to warm up his arm with a basketball and a softball. Gio said that his father is the reason he never had an arm injury.

Max Gonzalez never played professional baseball. He simply studied the game and knew its history. Gio went so far as to say that Max is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to baseball history. But Max is more than just a baseball coach. He taught Gio about life.

"What can I tell you? It's like a dream come true for every dad," said Max. "Gio listened to me and worked it out. That's why he is rewarded. He works hard."

Gonzalez already is preparing for the 2013 season, training in Miami and looking to improve his repertoire of pitches.

"I will never be content. I strive to get better, and I strive for greatness," Gonzalez said. "The day I retire from baseball is the day I can sit back and relax. ... For me, what I want to work on this offseason is the command of my changeup, command of my curveball, fastball, just command of my stuff."

Pitcher, Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Points
R.A. Dickey, Mets 27 5 209
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 2 11 10 1 6 96
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals 1 12 6 8 4 93
Johnny Cueto, Reds 1 4 10 10 2 75
Craig Kimbrel, Braves 1 5 5 9 41
Matt Cain, Giants 1 6 7 22
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals 2 2 6
Aroldis Chapman, Reds 1 1
Cole Hamels, Phillies 1 1
Washington Nationals, Gio Gonzalez