Is R.A. Dickey the Best Pitcher in Baseball?

By Rich MacLeod

Can a knuckleball pitcher really be the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball? New York Mets starter R.A. Dickey is making a very strong case that yes, he can be. The 37-year-old starter has been nothing short of spectacular this season posting a 10-1 record with an ERA of just 2.20. In fact, the only loss Dickey has suffered this year was an early April start in Atlanta in the rain. As many of you know, pitching a knuckleball is difficult enough so trying to do so effectively when it’s raining is nearly impossible. If you take out that weather affected start, Dickey is 10-0 with a measly ERA of 1.47.

In his last start the knuckleballer set a new Mets club record by pitching 32.2 consecutive scoreless innings, breaking Jerry Koosman’s 1973 record. He did allow 1 run in the 9th, albeit unearned, which means he has not allowed an earned run since May 22nd. If you delve into the stats deeper, in his last 6 starts R.A. has struck out 58 batters while walking just 3. First off, that’s an incredible feat for any pitcher, but this is a knuckleball pitcher. They’re not supposed to have that kind of control or know what that pitch is doing. Key phrase: “supposed to”.

Not only has Dickey been stellar this season, he has seemed to completely master the knuckleball in ways that no one else has ever been able to do, even the great Phil Niekro. He’s thrown knuckleballs as slow as 54 MPH this year followed by ones as hard as 84 MPH. No one has been able to change speeds on their knuckleball like that before. R.A. Dickey has been one of the best knuckleball pitchers we’ve seen in a very long time and not only has he been the best pitcher on the Mets this season, he has arguably been the best pitcher in all of baseball in 2012. And yes, before you ask, he does deserve to start the All-Star Game.

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