R.A. Dickey came into 2012 on the heels of an 8 – 13 season in which he had given up career highs in hits, runs, and earned runs. At 38-years-old, the clock was ticking on his career.
It’s not ticking anymore.
Dickey’s 20 – 6 record in 2012 made him the first New York Mets pitcher to reach the 20 win mark since 1990, and his 233 2/3 innings pitched, 230 strikeouts, five complete games and three shutouts were all league leading marks. He won the NL Cy Young award after getting 27 of the 32 first place votes, and topped ESPN’s fantasy baseball player rater at the pitching position. Not bad for the 76th pitcher to go on most 2012 draft boards.
However, Dickey was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays this off-season which has made some fantasy owners uneasy about drafting him in 2013 now that he’s pitching in the offensive minded AL East.
There’s no reason to be uneasy. Here’s why:
1. 4 – 0, 1.71 ERA, .740 WHIP
Those numbers right there are the result of Dickey’s six career starts against AL East opponents. He’s got a perfect record, an ERA below two, and a WHIP well below one. Not many pitchers in baseball can say they’ve had that kind of success against some of the best lineups in the majors. Dickey can. Don’t fret about the knuckleballer’s new surroundings, he’s done just fine in the past and he’ll likely do even better with a strong lineup backing him up, which brings me to a second round of stats.
2. 12 – 1, 1.78 ERA, three Complete Games, three Shutouts
For every bit appealing that first stat line was, this one is better. Those numbers are Dickey’s stats in 2012 when he received between three and five runs of support from the Mets lineup. To put it in perspective, Justin Verlander went 10 – 2 with an ERA of 2.01 in such games last year, failing to record a shutout in any of them. With new additions in Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to go along with emerging star Edwin Encarnacion and the return of superstar Jose Bautista, the Jays have a lineup more than capable of getting Dickey three or more runs of support, which could mean great things in 2013.
3. He throws the knuckleball
It’s a common saying in sports that time is the only undefeated opponent. And it’s true for the most part, as even the greatest of our favorite athletes decline when they get old. That said, don’t worry about Dickey turning 39 this October.
Time has nothing on the knuckleball.
While others decline with age, a knuckleball pitcher only gets better. If Dickey regresses in 2013, it won’t be because of his age. Tim Wakefield pitched his knuckleball until he was 45, and there’s no reason to believe Dickey can’t do the same. If anything, Dickey is on the up and up, finally hitting his prime—just a decade or so later than normal.
Ranked 13th among pitchers in 2013, Dickey is probably a little underrated if you ask me. He was the best pitcher in fantasy baseball last season, and now playing for a team with World Series aspirations it’s hard to believe that he will regress all that terribly. A Cy Young season might be a stretch—then again, maybe not—but it’s safe to expect a more than solid season from the best knuckleballer in the game today. He’s going in the fifth round of some drafts. Take him with confidence.
2013 Projections: 17 – 8 record, 2.75 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, 210 K
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