While we are waiting for news that Mark Shapiro has moved into Paul Beeston's old office. Or that Alex Anthopoulos has been re-signed, or if he's resigned or the answer to any of the other big questions facing the Blue Jays, I thought we might as well start out look back our 2015 Jays.
R.A. Dickey came into 2015, having turned 40 in the offseason, and coming off a pretty good 2014 season after being a disappointment in 2013. Coming into the season, we had pretty much come to terms with the idea that he wasn't going to be the Cy Young award winner that we were hoping for, when we sent some of our top prospects, to the Mets, in return for him.
We could hope for improvement, but it seemed like a 20 win, sub 3 ERA season was unlikely to happen.
But, for a 40-year old, he had a pretty good year.
As you know, he had one good start in the playoffs (taken out after 4.2 innings) and one awful start.
Fangraphs has him at a 2.1 WAR (up for 1.7 in each of the last two seasons), giving him a value of $16.4 million to the Jays.
R.A.'s strikeout rate was way down (14.9%, down from 18.9), but his walk rate was also down (6.9%, down from 8.1). He gave up home runs at about the same rate (1.09 per 9 innings this year, 1.05 last year).
He continues to do very well on ball in play (.257 BABIP this year, after .263 last year).
His line drive (20.8% this year, 20.4% last), ground ball (41.9 this year, 42.0 last) and fly ball (37.2 this year, 37.6 last) didn't change much. He had a bit more luck on fly balls staying in the park (9.8% of fly balls left the park this year, 10.7 last year, continuing a downward trend from the 12.7% in 2013).
Dickey's FIP (4.48) and xFIP (4.72) were both higher than his ERA (3.91) continuing a trend that he's had his whole career.
Right-handers hit him much better than left-handers (.260/.317/.429 compared to .228/.288/.278). That two years in a row that he's had reverse splits. I know some switch hitters try batting right-handed against him. I think (if I was a switch hitter), I'd hit from which ever side I felt more comfortable.
He was much better at home (9-3, 3.11 ERA, batters hitting .197/.269/.346) than on the road (2-8, 4.83, batters hitting .296/.340/.469). Last year he was pretty much the same at home as on the road.
RA had a great second half (8-1, 2.80 ERA, batters hit .228/.265/.354), after a pretty poor first half (3-10, 4.87 ERA, batters hit .258/.333/.447).
R.A. Dickey by month:
April: 0-3, 5.23 in 5 starts . Batters hit .254/.338/.439.
May: 2-2, 6.27 in 5 starts. Batters hit .258/.307/.508.
June: 1-3, 3.32 in 6 starts. Batters hit .245/.335/.364.
July: 2-2, 2.57 in 5 starts. Batters hit .237/.291/.366.
August: 4-0, 4.17 in 6 starts. Batters hit .290/.338/.464.
September: 2-1, 2.43 in 6 starts. Batters hit .188/.211/.306.
His longest win streak was 7 games, running from July 23 to September 2. His high game score was on September 2, a complete game win, allowing just 4 hits, 1 earned, no walks with 6 strikeouts against the Indians. His worst game score was a 15, April 24, against the Rays in Tampa, he went 4.2 innings allowing 9 hits, 8 runs, 1 walk with 2 strikeouts. That was even a lower score than his 28 in game 4 of the ALC, though I would have called that a worse start.
Before the season started, I figured there was little chance that the Jays would be picking up Dickey's 2016 option ($12 million, with a $1 million option). Then, around the mid-point of the season, I was more sure they wouldn't pickup his option. In fact, at that point, I figured I'd turn down the option and try to re-sign Mark Buehrle.
Then, of course, RA had a terrific second half, and Mark had a poor second half.
I'm still kind of half way on the option. He's pitched over 200 innings in each of the last 5 seasons. There is a value to 200 innings, at league average, or slightly better, ERA. In 3 seasons, as a Blue Jays, he has made 101 starts and has thrown 654.2 innings, with a 100 ERA+. Making your start, every five days, is valuable. I think we know what we are going to get from him by now. If we can deal with that, he's likely to give good value for price of his option.
On the flip of that is that he turns 41 on Thursday. Even for a knuckleball pitcher, 41 is getting up there. Add in that catching Dickey turned out to be tough on Russell Martin, making the Jays keep Josh Thole on the active roster. We need a backup catcher, I'm guessing that Dioner Navarro won't be back, but I'd like to think we could do better than Thole..
I've seen some suggest that the Jays pick up his option and then try to trade him. I really don't see that. I don't know that any 41 year old has much trade value. I think he has more value to the Jays than he could possibly have in trade value.
R.A. gets way to much grief from Jays fans. If isn't his fault that we traded Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud for him. And, yeah, there are days when the knuckleball isn't working, but then all pitchers have bad days. He hasn't been a Cy Young candidate, but then he hasn't terrible either.
Course, if he could put a full season together that matched the second half of 2015, he could Cy Young candidate.
I'll admit, I really enjoy watching him pitch. Knuckleballs are fascinating. I really enjoy watching the slow motion views of the pitch. Of course, it is far more fun when it is actually dancing. Beyond his pitching, I think he's an interesting guy. His interviews are far more interesting than the average athlete interview.
This was one of my favorite moments, in a season of many many favorite moments.