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The Season That Was: R.A. Dickey

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Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In 2015, R.A. Dickey had a poor first half and then a super second half. A second half that was almost as good as his Cy Young season with the Mets. It was the pattern of Dickey’s time with the Jays, poor first half, much better second half, but this was beyond the normal first and season half swing.

I had hoped that maybe he had found how to be consistent with the capricious pitch.

As it turned out, he didn’t.

                                                                      
Year   Age  Tm  W  L  ERA  G GS    IP   H ER HR BB  SO HBP WP ERA+ SO9
2016    41 TOR 10 15 4.46 30 29 169.2 169 84 28 63 126   6  5   96 6.7

Not bad for a fifth starter, I guess, but we really wanted better. Which is about how I’d describe his time with the Jays, we really wanted better.

Baseball Reference has him at a 0.4 WAR. FanGraphs has him at a 1.0 WAR, making him worth $8.1 million to the Jays.

Batters had a .279 BABIP against him, up from .257 last year. He had a 5.03 FIP and a 4.76 xFIP, both higher than his ERA.

His line drive rate was up a bit (21.9%, up from 20.8 last year), his ground ball rate was much the same (42.1%, 41.9 last year), fly ball much the same (36.0%, 37.2 last year). Many more of his fly balls left the park (14.7%, up from 9.8).

R.A.’s strikeout rate was up (17.3%, up from 14.3), but his walk rate was also up (8.7%, up from 6.9).

Lefties (.250/.333/.457) and righties (.264/.323/.464) hit him about the same.

He was much better on the road (7-7, 3.56, batters hit .250/.315/.436) than at home (3-8, 5.28, batters hit .265/.339/.484).

For a change, he had a far better first half (7-9, 3.93, .250/.314/.466) than second half (3-6, 5.60, .275/.356/.450).

R.A. Dickey by month:

April: 1-3, 6.75, .306/.364/.519

May: 1-3, 3.20, .214/.278/.386

June: 3-3, 3.44, .262/.325/.539 (he gave up 10 home runs in 36.2 innings)

July: 2-3, 6.28, .245/.350/.519

August: 2-1, 3.41, .246/.323/.342

September: 1-2, 4.82, .341/.364/.488

He only made 2 starts and 1 relief appearance in September. He didn’t make the playoff rosters.

The Jays were 12-17 in his starts. His longest win streak was 2, which he did twice. His longest losing streak was 4 games, April 9 to May 7.

Dickey’s best game, by Game Score, was an 81, May 13 against the Rangers in Texas. He went 8 innings, allowed 3 hits, 1 walk with 6 strikeouts.

His worst game, by Game Score, was a 22, July 23 against the Mariners in Toronto. He went just 3 innings, allowing 7 hits, 6 earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 home run and 2 hit batters.


That was the last year of the contract Alex Anthopoulos signed him to, back when we traded for him. We heard, way too often, that knuckleball pitchers ‘hit their prime’ in their 40’s. Yeah, many knuckleball pitchers played into their 40’s, but most of them were pretty up and down in their 40’s. For every good season, there would be at least one bad season. To me, mid-30’s seem to the best time for knuckleball pitchers.

Since R.A. throws a harder knuckleball than most, it makes sense that he might have a harder time pitching in his 40’s than most who rely on that pitch.

Dickey has been a disappointment for the Jays, but over his 4 seasons, he’s pitched 824.1 innings and has been league average (ERA+100) over that time. There is a value to that. The trouble is, we expected more.

It isn’t like he’s been terribly overpaid, he’s made $41 million over the 4 years. The trouble, from our point of view, is that we gave up a lot to get R.A., Noah Syndergaard looks like a pitcher who will win a Cy Young sometime in his career.

The real problem is we were oversold on him. He was sold to us as the Ace that would be that final piece to get us to the playoffs. It didn’t happen. And many fans blamed him for the difference between what we hoped he would be and what he turned to be.

When we did make the playoffs, R.A. was kind of an afterthought. I mean, his great second half, in 2015, was part of the reason we made the playoffs, but, when we got there, he got a start in the ALDS, and was pulled after 4.2, with a big lead. His ALCS start is best left unmentioned. In this year’s playoffs, he didn’t make the roster.

R.A. is such an interesting guy. He seems like a nerd, I have to like that. I like guys that are a little different. He reads, I like people that read. I’m glad we got the chance to get to know him.

I’m curious to see what he does this winter. I’d imagine that, if he wants to play, someone will offer him a contract. I’m sure it won’t be the Jays. He does seem like the sort that has other things he would like to do with his life, so I wonder if he is ready to leave the game to get on with the rest of his life.

On the flip of that, I’d imagine that he might want to go out on a more positive season. Maybe he would like to prove to himself that he can be better than he was this year.