June 1, 2012
When Omar Minaya signed a relatively unknown knuckleballer during the winter before the 2010 season, most people were probably making sarcastic remarks about it since that seemed to be the “big addition” of the off-season. I was definitely one of those people, proclaiming that our prayers had finally been answered upon hearing of the signing. Little did I know that R.A. Dickey was indeed heaven-sent.
Two and a half years after the inconspicuous signing, Dickey is enjoying an All-Star-caliber season, starting the year 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA. His grasp of the knuckleball seems to get better with every passing day. Although he is 37 years old, this is the prime of Dickey’s career. Knuckleballers, unlike fastballers(?) tend to stick around well into their 40s (see Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Phil Niekro) so the Mets should feel comfortable offering Dickey a solid 5-year contract like they did for the much less proven Niese.
Dickey has been rock-solid since he joined the Mets rotation. You can count on him to go out and give the team a shot to win almost every time he pitches–sort of the Bizzaro Oliver Perez. Since Dickey joined the Mets in 2010, he’s been as consistently good as pretty much anyone in baseball. The percentage of his starts that end up as quality starts is phenomenal. Since 2010, in terms of quality start percentage for pitchers with a minimum 50 starts, he's 6th on the list with (0.735%) behind the following stud pitchers: Jared Weaver (0.808%); Matt Cain (0.763%), Roy Halladay (0.763%); Felix Hernandez (0.756%); and Justin Verlander (0.744%).
And ahead of the following pitchers: Clayton Kershaw (0.733%); Cole Hamels (0.716%); Cliff Lee (0.716%); David Price (0.707%); and CC Sabathia (0.701%).
Look at the names on that list! If I asked you to name the top 10 pitchers in the game over the last 3 years, I bet you’d come up with almost the same list, minus Dickey. But guess what? Dickey belongs on that list. He’s proving all the doubters wrong, and like Painiac wrote, Dickey’s no fluke.
Here’s a look at how Dickey ranks in quality start % in Mets history:
Rk Player Quality Start% Games Started
1 Tom Seaver 0.742% 395
2 R.A. Dickey 0.735% 68
3 Johan Santana 0.694% 98
4 Dwight Gooden 0.690% 303
5 Jon Matlack 0.673% 199
6 Jerry Koosman 0.668% 346
7 Ron Darling 0.664% 241
8 Al Leiter 0.657% 213
9 David Cone 0.657% 169
10 Bret Saberhagen 0.649% 74 48 28-31 29 21 .580 524.1 184 77 388 3.16
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Yes it’s a small sample size, but he’s right on Seaver’s tail. And he’s only getting better. This year, 9 of his 10 starts have been quality, and 21 of his last 22 games dating back to July of 2011 have been quality starts. The guy is a machine.
For those who might not know, a quality start is defined as a minimum of 6 innings pitched while allowing 3 or fewer earned runs. A lot of baseball commentators dismiss the quality start as a soft stat, noting that 6 innings and 3 runs works out to a 4.50 ERA. True. But if you look at Dickey’s quality starts, you see that only 5 times out of his 50 quality starts has Dickey only met that minimum threshold of 6 IP & 3 ER, and his ERA in quality starts overall is nowhere near 4.50–it’s a sparkling 2.05.
As far as signing a long-term, fair-valued contract, Dickey doesn’t seem to be worried. Nor does he seem eager to squeeze every last dime out of the Mets:
I try not to think about it much. I’ve got so much to worry about just getting prepared for games…
"I don’t mind being underpaid…and the reason…is twofold. One is, it’s all kinda relative. Underpaid at $4.75 million? It’s hard to fathom… Secondly, it frees the club up to hopefully have the capital to go out and make us better. If you’ve made enough money for your lifetime, and the lifetime of your children…the next step is, how can you win? If that means taking a few extra dollars so we can have a few more to go out and get good guys, then so be it."
-R.A. Dickey, talking with Joe & Evan on WFAN, May 23, 2012
I love this guy. How can you not, when we live in an era in which the Scott Borases of the world will do everything in their power to pillage a team of every last dollar, so that they and their client can add another wing to their mansions, all the while ensuring the victimized team has the payroll flexibility of Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics for the lifetime of the contract (see Barry Zito/San Francisco Giants)? Dickey’s a straight-up good guy–one of the few left in professional sports. And a damn good pitcher.
The Mets hold a club option for next season at $5 million. They need to exercise the option and extend his contract long-term. Lock him up Sandy.
Article focuses on how Mets knuckle ball pitcher and Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey deserves a quality contract.