Monday, September 19, 2011
The knuckleball is fun, and the Mets agree
R.A. Dickey's story is now relatively familiar across baseball-land. He was a first round pick by the Texas Rangers, but then received a much smaller bonus when a doctor saw a picture of him, and determined that he was missing a ligament in his shoulder. Then he took some lumps in the big leagues, changed into a knuckleball pitcher, struggled more. He was then let go by the Rangers, bounced around, and then found himself pitching for the Mets. Then last year, he had a stellar year, and has become either the Mets number 1 or number 2 starter. This year he has been phenomenal, posting a 4.6 WAR and making on $2.75 million. This gives him an incredible 598 WASP. His WHIP is a solid 1.250, and a very good ERA of 3.35. When he gets ahead in the count, its basically all over, as his opponent batting average is .225, with a .168 average with 2 strikes. Key divisional opponents aren't doing much against him either, as the Braves are hitting just .190 off him, and the Phillies just .222. He is averaging 5.8 strikeouts per 9 innings, which is higher than he has ever had in the big leagues, and in his two years as a Met he has kept his home runs allowed per 9 innings under 1, something he had never done before. He is getting more groundballs than ever before, and throwing twice as many strikes as balls (with 75% of them being the knuckler). It is hard to pinpoint what exactly finally went right for Dickey, it may just have been gaining familiarity with the knuckleball, but things are going extremely right, and the usually inefficient, unlucky Mets somehow have this guy.