Coming off a 2013 season that was, by any measure, a disappointment, R.A. Dickey had a lot of question marks going into this season. The main one was 'is he just over matched in in a strong AL East'.
He was second worst on the league at allowing the long ball, having given up 35 home runs. The home run seemed to be his biggest problem. His walk rate was up a little and his strikeout rate was down a bit from his Cy Young season in 2012, but the worst part was all the home runs.
We expected more, after trading a very good catching prospect and a very good pitching prospect to get him, so we hoped 2014 would be a better season.
Our prediction thread for him was pretty optimistic. I guessed he would put up a
3.60 ERA, 32 starts, 210 innings, a record around 15-10
Not all that far off:
Year W L ERA G GS CG IP H HR HR BB SO HBP ERA+ FIP 2014 14 13 3.71 34 34 1 215.2 191 89 26 74 173 14 105 4.32
Fangraphs had him at a 2.1 WAR, the exact same number they had him at in 2013, giving him a value of $11.7 million to the team. Baseball Reference had his WAR at 2.5 up from 2.0 in 2013. That makes more sense to me.
His strikeout rate was about the same as 2013 (18.9%, up a tic from 18.8). His walk rate was up (8.1%, up from 7.5). Thankfully he gave up far fewer home runs (1.09/9 innings, down from 1.40).
His BABIP was almost exactly the same as last year (.263 this year, .265 last year).
Dickey gave up a few more line drives (20.4%, up from 19.2), more ground balls (42.0% from 40.3) and, of course, fewer fly balls (37.6% down from 40.5). And fewer of his fly balls left the park (10.7%, down from 12.7). thank goodness for that.
His FIP (4.32) and his xFIP (4.14) were both higher than his ERA (3.71).
Unlike last year, he did better against left-handed batters (.221/.308/.349) than right-handed batters (.242/.304/.437).
He was about the same at home (batters hitting .239/.318/.410 and he had a 3.75 ERA) as on the road (batters hit .238/.318/.370, he had a 3.68 ERA) but his record at home (8-4) was much better than on the road (6-9), which has more to do with his teammates than it has to do with him.
R.A. had a better second half (3.57 ERA and 7-4 record) than a first half (3.82 ERA and a 7-9 record).
Dickey by month:
April: 2-3, 5.09 ERA. Batters hit .252/.350/.400.
May: 3-1, 3.55. Batters hit .228/.299/.376.
June: 1-3, 4.11. Batters hit .262/.331/.549.
July: 3-3, 3.07. Batters hit .217/.268//.342.
August: 1-2, 4.40. Batters hit .279/.353/.467.
September: 4-1, 2.48. Batters hit .171/.245/.293.
Now if every month could have been like September, we'd really have something.
Dickey's longest win streak was 4 games, starting August 20th, running to September 23rd. His best Game Score was a 76, on July 28th, going 7 innings, getting 10 strikeouts while walking just 1 and allowing 3 hits, in Boston. His worst Game Score was a 28, on April 17th, in Minnesota. He allowed 7 hits, 5 walks and 5 earned in 4.1 innings.
Early in the season, I felt that Gibby wasn't doing Dickey any favors by leaving him in games when he looked to be tiring. Gibby seemed to think that R.A. should throw 110 pitches a game and he wasn't going to pull him until he hit that number. Unfortunately, Dickey seemed to run out of gas around 90-95 pitches, at least early in the season. I understand that Gibby felt that R.A. as a knuckleball pitcher was to pitch us deep into games and give the bullpen a rest, but, I felt, he should have been a little quicker with the hook. I do think his numbers would have been quite a bit better if Gibby had noticed the signs of a tiring knuckleballer quicker.
R.A. did give us 215 innings and there is a value in that. He started every 5th day and got us at least 6 innings in 28 or 34 starts. Even in his worst start of the season, he went 4.1 innings. He might not be the Ace we thought we were getting when we made the trade, but he does have value. I do wish that we could get him a catcher that could hit a little bit.
He is an interesting guy. I enjoy hearing his interviews, using $5 words that get the reporters searching for their dictionaries. Blair seems to think he is a trade piece. I don't tend to agree, I don't think you get much for a 40-year old (birthday is at the end of this month) even if he throws a knuckleball. Unless the idea is to dump salary, and I'm hoping that's not what the Jays will be wanting to do.