Let’s see … R.A. Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, wrote a bestselling book, threw back-to-back one-hit shutouts, won 20 games, and may have bagged a Cy Young Award. Is there anything else he could have accomplished over this past year?
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? R.A. was far and away THE Mets story of 2012, and the #1 story in baseball (at least, in this author’s opinion). His 20-win season was remarkable for at least two reasons: first, pitchers in this era just don’t win 20 games as easily as they did 20+ years ago. Second, it’s extremely difficult to win 20 games for a losing team; R.A.’s 2012 dominance for an abysmal club ranks right up there with Phil Niekro‘s 20-win season for the 1979, 66-win Braves; Niekro’s 19-win season for the ’78, 69-win Braves; Randy Jones‘ 20-win season for the ’75, 71-win Padres; Jones’ 22-win, Cy Young season for the ’76 the 79-win season for the Padres; and Steve Carlton‘s mind-blowing 27-win, Cy Young season for the ’72, 59-win Phillies. I’m sure there are other comparable achievements over the past 40 years by pitchers on losing teams, but these are the ones that immediately come to my mind.
Among NL pitchers in 2012, R.A. Dickey was first in innings pitched, first in strikeouts, first in shutouts, first in complete games, second in wins, third in WHIP, third in WAR, third in K:BB ratio, and third in K/9. There are many more firsts, seconds, and thirds that can be listed, as well as many more equally impressive stats. It was an historical season for the knuckleballer (something we suggested here on MetsToday in late June).
Again, what more is there to say? R.A. was incredible, uplifting, and gave Mets fans something to smile about every five days. Where in the world would the Mets have been without him?
As hard as it is to imagine the 2012 Mets without R.A. Dickey, it’s equally difficult to imagine the ’13 Mets without him. Yet, it looms as a distinct possibility; after all, R.A. is one of the Mets’ few valuable trade chips, and as someone nearing age 40, it makes sense for the Mets to cash this chip in today toward a potentially better tomorrow. Since there’s never before been a knuckleballer in his late 30s who throws in excess of 80 MPH, no one knows how long Dickey can last — especially without an ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. From a scientific standpoint, and considering his clean, efficient mechanics, it is reasonable to believe he can last as long as Jamie Moyer. However, without a comp, who can say for sure?
Considering R.A.’s appeal to the fan base, leadership, media savvy, and potential to keep pitching for at least another half-decade, it would be in the Mets’ interest to keep him around. However, if the right prospect-laden, blockbuster deal comes their way, it would be foolish for the Mets not to peddle him away. The Mets need several young men added to their organization very quickly if they hope to contend within the next 3-4 years, and if some can be obtained by trading R.A., they may very well pull the trigger.
Personally, I would be very disappointed to see R.A. leave, but at the same time, I’d be happy for him if he moves on to a team with a legitimate shot at a postseason berth. In my heart, I see him hanging around and contributing somewhere for at least the next 4-5 years — wherever he winds up.
Read 2011 R.A. Dickey Analysis
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.