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The Season That Was: R.A. Dickey

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Happier times...
Happier times...
Tom Szczerbowski

I think it is pretty fair to say that there were very high expectations for R.A. Dickey going into this season. Coming off an NL Cy Young Award and being picked up in a trade that cost us a very good catching prospect and a good pitching prospect, (with a few other bodies thrown in, just for fun) we hoped he would lead us to the playoff.

Then there was an autobiography and a documentary film on his Knuckleball as well as a handle of press conferences that had writers consulting dictionaries to figure out just what Dickey was trying to say made us like him more.

Our prediction thread turned into a bunch of puns, but we were all pretty optimistic. My guess was:

15-7, 32 starts, 200 innings, 180 strikeouts.

Glad I didn't include an ERA....without that I'm not all that far off.

2013 - R.A. Dickey 14-13 34 34 3 1 0 0 224.2 207 113 105 35 71 177 4.21 1.24

Fangraphs had him at a 2.0 WAR, down from 4.5 in 2012, but in line with his 2.6 and 2.2 in 2010 and 2011. The 2.0 would give him a value of $9.8 million to the Jays. Since he is getting $12 million from the Jays, for each of the next couple of years, he's going to have to pick it up.

Dickey's strikeout rate dropped from 8.86/9 in 2012 to 7.09/9, understandable for a pitcher moving into the AL from the NL, though maybe a bit more of a drop than we would have liked. His walk rate jumped from 2.08/9 to 2.84. But the real news was that his home run rate jumped from 0.92/9 to 1.40. He is going to have to learn to pitch in the smaller AL East parks.

His BABIP against was a little lower this year (.265) than last (.275), surprising considering the lousy defense he had behind him for much of the season. He gave up slightly fewer line drives (19.2% down from 19.8). Fewer ground balls (40.3% from 46.1). More fly balls (40.5% from 34.1). And, of course, more of his fly balls left the park (12.7% up from 11.3). So, more fly balls and more of them leaving the park isn't a good thing, learn something everyday.

His FIP was 4.58 and xFIP 4.23 were right close to his ERA.

R.A. was better against RHB (batters hit .228/.293/.389 against him) than LHB (.255/.317/.449).

He was better on the road (6-7, 3.57 ERA, batters hit.237/.302/.375 with 12 home runs) than at home (8-6, 4.80 ERA, batters hit .247/.310/.463 with 23 home runs). At home he was much better with the roof closed. He had a 5.51 ERA in 11 starts with the roof open, about 3.80 with it closed.

R.A. by month:

April: 2-4, 4.50 ERA in 6 starts, 36 innings. Batters hit .239/.316/.410 against him.

May: 2-3, 5.82 ERA in 6 starts, 38.2 innings. Batters hit .270/.343/.493.

June: 3-1, 3.71 in 5 starts, 34 innings. Batters hit .222/.288/.357.

July: 1-3, 4.50 in 6 starts, 38 innings. Batters hit .250/.313/.474.

August: 3-1, 3.07 in 6 starts, 44 innings. Batters hit .238/.3000/.366.

September: 3-1, 3.71 in 5 starts, 34 innings. Batters hit .230/.267/.421.

Dickey's longest win streak was 4 games, running from August 26th to September 17. Longest losing streak was 3 games, done twice. His best Game Score was an 88, on June 26th against the Rays, in Tampa Bay. It was a complete game 2 hitter, with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. His worst Game Score was a 17, his second start of the season, April 7th against the Red Sox, part of a 13-0  loss, he went 4.2 innings, allowed 10 hits, 8 runs, 7 earned, 2 walks 5 strikeouts and 2 home runs, at Rogers Centre.

I think it is pretty fair to say that his season was a disappointment. We expected better. Neck and back soreness was, likely, at least part of the cause. I'm all for players going on the DL, when they aren't 100%, but then we had Morrow, Happ and Johnson on the DL, so it would have been tough to lose another starter. I'm not sure if the WBC had some part in his less than great season, but I'm happy there isn't a WBC next year.

The pitcher we saw in August and September is the one I'm hoping we'll see next year. If he can pitch like that, we'll grow the love back that we had for him at the start of the season. If not, we'll be pining for Travis d'Arnaud.