2011 Analysis: R.A. Dickey
In the winter between 2009 and 2010, Omar Minaya pulled R.A. Dickey off the scrap heap. I made fun of the signing at the time. Much to my — and most others’ — surprise, Dickey got the last laugh, coming out of nowhere to put together a rags-to-riches story of success that seemed more like a Disney movie than reality.
After finishing 2010 as the Mets’ ace, the question for 2011 was, pardon the pun … “can Dickey keep it up?”
While R.A. might not have been as effective in 2011 as he was the season before, his carriage most certainly did not turn into a pumpkin. He regressed from a #1 / #2 starter to more of a middle-of-the-rotation guy, which is still pretty impressive for a 36-year-old whose career seemed to be over a year and a half ago. Dickey made 32 starts and pitched 208 innings, posting a svelte 3.28 ERA and a nifty 1.22 WHIP. He regularly pitched into the seventh inning, and sometimes beyond. While he wasn’t necessarily an “ace”, he gave the Mets a solid chance to win nearly every time he took the mound, and held that opportunity deep into ballgames. He was usually the victim of marginal run support, and as a result was a hard-luck loser more often than not. Remarkably, he did this despite pitching with plantar fasciitis for the majority of the campaign.r On a better offensive team, Dickey might have won 14-16 games, but on the Mets, he was a disappointing and undeserving 8-13.
At this point I believe we have seen R.A. at his best and his worst, and I believe we now have a reasonable expectation: that he is a durable innings-eater who is good enough to be a #3 starter on a championship team. Considering that he’s a knuckleball pitcher, therefore presumably impervious to the drop in performance that other pitchers his age succumb to, I fully expect R.A. to remain at that #3-type of level. It took him several years to develop command of the knuckleball (or at least, as close as one can get to “commanding” the pitch), and my feeling is that he’ll continue to improve and perfect the pitch. Pencil him in for another 30+ starts, 200 innings, and the kind of performance that would net him 12-15 wins on a good baseball team.