R.A. Dickey notched his 20th win of the season this afternoon, but in allowing three runs in 7.2 innings he fell from first to second among NL ERA leaders.
Clayton Kershaw now leads Dickey by the slimmest of margins, 2.68 to 2.69, which got me wondering if a reigning Cy Young winner had ever led the league in ERA and not won the award again.
Instead of trying to research that myself I lazily asked the question on Twitter and got a quick answer from none other than the official account for SABR (plus a more detailed reply from Dan “The Baseball Crank” McLaughlin).
Anyway, the answer is yes. Roger Clemens (twice), Sandy Koufax, and Tom Seaver all led leagues in ERA as reigning Cy Young winners and didn’t get the award. It’s worth noting that when Koufax failed to win in 1964 they only gave out one Cy Young award, rather than one per league.
So yeah … if Kershaw hangs onto the ERA lead he’ll join some pretty exclusive company because there’s seemingly no buzz for him as a top Cy Young candidate.