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R.A. Dickey Continues to Prove He is No Fluke

By Mike Silva ~ August 6th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets, Statistical Analysis.

I was mocked last week for saying that Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was equally as good, if not better, than Roy Oswalt this year and going forward. Some compare Dickey to Aaron Small, who went 10-0 for the Yankees in 2005. The big difference is that while Dickey has shown statistical evidence that his work on the knuckleball has paid off, Small didn’t put up any numbers in the minors that season (4.83 ERA) that led you to believe his run was sustainable.

Need more proof? Well the great John Dewan of ACTA Sports recently sent out his “stat of the week” which compared Opponents On Base Plus Slugging (OOPS) for April/May and June/July. The early season version had the names you would expect like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Cain, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, and Adam Wainwright. The later version (June/July) still had Johnson, but the others were noticeably missing. You know who wasn’t? R.A. Dickey as his .586 OOPS ranked 9th in baseball over that eight week span.

Of course, I am not saying Dickey is at the level of a Halladay or Wainwright, that would be silly, but to dismiss his performance as “luck” or temporary would be foolish. The fact he battled through humidity in Atlanta on Tuesday to allow just two runs says a lot. Facing a similar situation in San Juan, Puerto Rico he was torched by the Marlins for five runs in five innings. Making adjustments in those conditions is a great sign. Remember, this was the second time in a month that Atlanta faced Dickey so he shouldn’t be a surprise to them. As a matter of fact they beat him at Citi Field right before the All Star Break.

The Mets haven’t had the best luck with “scrap heap” reclamation projects, but I believe R.A. Dickey has the ability to be a solid number three starter the rest of the year. Right now he is pitching like an ace (171 ERA+). Put it this way, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro had a career ERA+ of 115 and only one season (1967) of an ERA+ higher than where Dickey is now. He is obviously due for a bit of a fall, but where Dickey will land seems pretty good to me. At the very least in the same category as an aging Roy Oswalt. Put it this way: there are a lot of issues with the Mets, but R.A. Dickey isn’t one of them.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to R.A. Dickey Continues to Prove He is No Fluke

  1. RealityChuck

    Good point. Because Dickey is a knuckleballer, his previous pitching performances don’t mean much. The knuckleball is a very difficult pitch to master, but once you figure it out, you can pitch forever with it. Knowing the pitcher doesn’t help, because no one — not even the pitcher — can be sure where a good knuckleball will end up. Batters know it’s coming, but can’t anticipate any particular pattern. As long as it goes over the plate, it’s a very effective pitch. And if Dickey loses speed over the years, it really doesn’t matter.

    I think he’ll be a solid starter for several years.

  2. Elwood

    That knuckleball, the pitch that got him back to the major leagues after a back injury robbed his fastball of velocity is great. To say it was “luck” is not right for someone who found a way to stay in the game.

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