When Will the Knuckler Get the Respect He Deserves?

By Sam Maxwell

Yesterday morning, I woke up and turned MLB Network on just in time to catch Jon Hart and Dan Plesac on “Best of MLB Tonight” give their Top 3 Starting Pitchers Right Now. I got so caught up with who they left off that I forget their exact order, but it was some kind of combination of Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and David Price. Clearly, you can’t really argue against any of those top 3, but I was curious as to why both of them passed on another Cy Young Award Winner.

After they each listed, the host himself brought up R.A. Dickey, asking both of them why they left him off their lists.

Jon Hart’s response is what got me.

“Like I said, it was a tough list to make. I had him around 8 or 9 because it was such a breakout season…”

Alright, stop right there.

Yeah, sure, R.A. Dickey “Broke Out” last year.

But the jump wasn’t as drastic as everybody is claiming.

I am aware of how many articles and blog posts have been written attempting to disband the notion that R.A. Dickey came OUT OF NOWHERE. But apparently, we must continue to write them:


  • 26 GS
  • 11-9
  • 2.84ERA
  • 234.3 Innings*
  • 5.37 K/9
  • 2.17 BB/9
  • 0.67 HR/9
  • 1.19 WHIP
  • .247 AVG against
  • 77.3% LOB
  • 2 CG, 1 SO
  • Plus, THIS. (weird without the beard.)


  • 32 GS
  • 8-13
  • 3.28 ERA
  • 208.2 Innings
  • 5.78 K/9
  • 2.33 BB/9
  • 0.78 HR/9
  • 1.23 WHIP
  • .248 AVG against
  • 75.1% LOB
  • 1 CG

For 2 years before his Cy Young Award, the guy was a workhorse, putting up numbers, other than the 2011 won-lost record, that you would gladly take any year. He came from “out of nowhere” in 2010, but even saying that kind of takes away from all the labor he put into it all in the “work-in-progress” years prior.

Yes. R.A. Dickey did break out in every statistical category this past season, but probably the biggest difference to his overall numbers is the K/9 breakout, which most likely also lead to his HR/9 rate going up.


  • 33 GS
  • 20-6
  • 2.73 ERA
  • 233.2 Innings
  • 8.86 K/9
  • 2.08 BB/9
  • 0.92 HR/9
  • 1.05 WHIP
  • .222 AVG against
  • 80% LOB
  • 5 CG, 3 SO (including a couple back-to-back 1-hitters)

Since starting this post, I have now seen the overall MLB Network’s Top 10 Starting Pitchers RIGHT NOW and R.A. Dickey wasn’t even included in the main top 10, let alone any commentator’s personal list (other than Brian Kenny’s, but his list wasn’t ever shown on screen, only as a comment on The Knuckler being left off.) The main list is computerized, called “The Shredder,” but the humans are not, and most of the players on the list are young, other than Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee (both of whom had down years as they enter the period that conventional pitchers tend to start deteriorating.) Both the computers and the humans give those Phillie pitchers the benefit of the doubt.

Let’s not argue, however, who should have not been included and simply argue for including R.A. He “came out of nowhere” in 2010, was a very good pitcher for 2 years, and then came close to other worldly in 2012. He was historically great. Going off of what seems to be the criteria at the Network (track record, most recent year and projected success), it would appear to be time to buy into this phenomenon.

Outside of “The Shredder,” shouldn’t the humans factor in drive and determination, as they seem to do with other older pitchers? Yes, he throws a harder knuckleball than other Knuckling Jedi to come before him, but he also doesn’t have that ligament in his arm that normally gets worse and worse to deal with over time. Yes, he is heading to the American League, and arguably the hardest division in baseball, but that’s probably just the challenge that R.A. Dickey feeds on.

A top 10 list is a very hard thing to do, and I’m sure most people at the Network, as well as “The Shredder”, have him in their top 15 (he may have even gone to 11). I know I shouldn’t care, and I’m sure Robert Allen could give a damn.

But there’s a very good chance, almost likely, that the Mets didn’t even get R.A. Dickey’s best years (though, I have a feeling he’ll be back.)

After collecting a Cy Young Award, I think it’s time The Knuckler got a little more of this.

*60.2 MiLB innings, 174.1 MLB innings; All other 2010 stats exclusively Major League.

Thanks for reading! You can read Sam Maxwell’s personal Mets Blog here.