NEW YORK — David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets won baseball’s Cy Young awards on Wednesday.
Price barely beat out 2011 winner Justin Verlander for the American League prize in one of the closest votes ever. Dickey was an easy choice for the NL honor in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The 38-year-old Dickey became the first pitcher who relied predominantly on a knuckleball to win the Cy Young Award, an achievement mentors such as Hall of Famer Phil Niekro are quite proud of.
Runner-up two years ago in the Cy Young race, Price was the pick this time for the AL’s top pitching prize. He received 14 of 28 first-place votes to edge Verlander, chosen first on 13 ballots.
Other than a 1969 tie between Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain, it was the tightest race in the history of the AL award.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney got the other first-place vote and came in fifth.
Price went 20-5 to tie Jered Weaver for the American League lead in victories and winning percentage. The 27-year-old lefty had the lowest ERA at 2.56 and finished sixth in strikeouts with 205.
Verlander, also the league MVP a year ago, followed that up by going 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and pitching the Detroit Tigers to the World Series. He led the majors in strikeouts (239), innings (238 1-3) and complete games (six).
Price tossed 211 innings in 31 starts, while Verlander made 33. One factor that might have swung some votes, however: Price faced stiffer competition in the rugged AL East than Verlander did in the AL Central.
Weaver came in third with 70 points, but was listed second on a pair of ballots. The right-hander threw a no-hitter and had a 2.81 ERA in his first 20-win season but missed time with injuries and totaled only 188 2-3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels.
The top pick in the 2007 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt, Price reached the majors the following year and has made three straight All-Star teams.
Despite going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 2010, he finished a distant second in Cy Young voting to Felix Hernandez, who won only 13 games for last-place Seattle but dominated most other statistical categories that year.
Verlander was trying to become the first AL pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000. San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum did it in the National League in 2008-09.
Dickey drew 27 of 32 first-place votes and outdistanced 2011 winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gio Gonzalez of Washington finished third.