Wasn’t that April start pretty much in a monsoon or is that my imagination playing tricks? Anywho, not to sound too much like a working girl but all I can really say is I love me some Dickey, also has he had any more AB’s this year where he’s rocked his “butcher boy” ? Swing. I saw it last year for one / only time. does he still do this, any cool kids want to enlighten me?
“Looking for a magic bullet to explain this increased effectiveness leads mainly to dead ends….(snip)….Dickey is simply doing what he has always done, but doing it better.”
I’m not sure this is true. I thought I read (or heard) that he had been working on a new ‘rising’ knuckleball and he implemented it a month or so ago. I don’t know the physics, but I guess it doesn’t drop off a cliff like a lot of knuckleballs so when a batter swings low – because they anticipate the pitch to drop – they wind up swing under the pitch. The new pitch has coincided with his increased K/9, but somehow he still manages a very low BB/9.
The consistency is remarkable. I’d expect a knuckleball pitcher to get lit up every month or so, but as long as the weather is decent it seems like he always pitches well. He’s pitched like a legit ace this year. But the one drawback is the weather. He struggled at the beginning of 2011 in bad weather, and got crushed this year in Atlanta when it was pouring out. If his pitch isn’t effective in bad weather, I wonder if he’d be decent in October (if it ever comes to that).
I know FIP is gospel in Fangraphs-land, but it still bothers me when writers here blithely cite it in evaluating pitchers (knuckleballers, Mariano Rivera) with a long history of significantly outperforming DIPS stats.
One thing you missed about his start in April was; it was raining which kept Dickey from gripping the ball. He said it was like throwing water balloons. So that start was effected mostly by the weather and not occasional non-knuckling knuckle ball.
I’ve watched at least 90% of Dickey’s starts since he first came up to the Mets and other than not throwing his fastball as much, I’m not seeing much difference in what Dickey is doing.
I really think the main reason for Dickey’s great start is the really good weather the Met’s have see this year. Dickey started off slow last year in the cold spring we had. Once the weather warmed up, Dickey’s performance went up. Warm spring means Dickey has better feeling for the ball and he missed those potential bad games to skew his results.
What’s crazy is that Dickey may be getting unlucky this year. His HR/FB% is 4% higher than the past two years. His BABIP is right on line, and although his LOB% is high, it still shouldn’t make up for the big HR/FB difference. If that goes down, isn’t it conceivable that Dickey is a true talent 2.10 ERA pitcher this year? That’s insane.
Who the heck asked if Santana/Dickey was the best 1-2 combo in baseball? Strasburg/Gonzalez, Sanchez/Johnson, Halladay/Lee/Hamels, and a couple of others. You could make the argument that Strasburg and Gonzalez have not just been the best two starters on the same team, but that they’ve been the best two starters in baseball period.
Comment by skippyballer486 — June 9, 2012 @ 4:25 am
Agree. Dickey consistently outperforms his fip. You have to acknowledge at some point that fip is a relatively poor statistic for certain pitchers, and Dickey is one of them. Given his contact figures, I can only imagine the kind of run prevention the current incarnation of Dickey could take part in if he had a decent set of fielders behind him and not Daniel Murphy playing second base in shallow right next to Duda.
Two things from this article which originally appeared in Newsday. First, he has a knuckler that is moving upwards. This is something batters are completely unprepared for, as it does the opposite of every other pitch they’ve ever seen in their lives. Second, unlike other knuckleballers, Dickey is developing a feel for where the ball is going to go based on how he throws the pitch. While he’s always had good control for a knuckler, I think this has launched his K rate way up, as he can set guys up inside/outside like a traditional pitcher.
Maybe this evens out over the course of the season, but for a guy who was already an untraditional knuckler, he seems to have become even more of one this year.
Just because a players ERA (or however else you are saying he is outperforming it) doesn’t properly reflect their FIP, doesn’t mean that FIP isn’t a useful stat for evaluating said pitcher. Think about what the FIP formula considers – HRs, BBs, Ks, and IPs – and what it doesn’t – ER, defense, hits – and judge the pitcher accordingly. Just because a pitcher outperforms their ERA, doesn’t automatically mean FIP is a bad stat for them – e.g. if a pitcher plays in front of a great defense for most his career, he probably is going to outperform their FIP.
If you watch that often then you know he has been honing his knuckleball skills, and there is a difference in approach. He is more confident in it, hence why he throws the fastball less than you mentioned, and he has more than one speed for it, which allows him to sequence the pitches. When he first came up, his knuckler was mostly one speed, with a less often faster knuckleball. Now he will throw those two pitches at any time, and with more confidence of where it will go than I think some guys have with their fastball. He supposedly throws it differently than previous knucklers, giving him slightly more control. I think it is like the OP said, he is mostly just getting better at throwing it.
The wetness will affect the control, because it affects his grip, but I don’t know how much the cold weather would.
Josh Johnson FIP: 2.89
Josh Johnson ZIPs ROS FIP: 2.81
I guess you meant to say “Josh Johnson has been unlucky so far this year, and Anibal Sanchez has been really good three seasons in a row.”
For comparison, RA Dickey and Johan Santana have a ZIPs ROS ERA of 3.66 and 3.55, respectively. Both have worse FIPs so far this year than Johnson and Sanchez, but they do both have a better ERA.
I think you could definitely make the argument that Santana and Dickey have done better, but I think you could also argue that Johnson and Sanchez have been better. ZIPs likes the Marlins more going forward. The one big point in Dickey/Santana’s favor is the injury history, but if we ignore that I’ll take Johnson/Sanchez all day. Even including the injury history I’d take the Marlin’s pair for their big advantage in youth, but at least I’d have to think about it.
Comment by skippyballer486 — June 10, 2012 @ 3:51 am
Except Santana and Dickey have both been able to consistently outperform their peripherals, so FIP consistently underrates them.
Regarding Dickey and FIP… Isn’t the fact that he’s a knuckleball pitcher pretty much mean that FIP will make him look less effective than he is? [Isn’t it generally agreed that knuckleball pitchers, as a class, tend to consistently outperform their FIP?]
Me: “For comparison, RA Dickey and Johan Santana have a ZIPs ROS ERA of 3.66 and 3.55, respectively.”
The next two comments: “Use ERA instead of FIP!”
I did use ERA for them. I used FIP for Johnson and Sanchez, ERA for Santana and Dickey. Next time please read my comment before arguing with it.
Comment by skippyballer486 — June 11, 2012 @ 6:35 am
I think the point here though is that Dickey is not playing in front of a good defense. The Mets are tied for 26th in the majors in errors, 27th in fielding percentage, 20th in most assists and 15th in most put outs. They’re also tied for 20th in most unearned runs allowed.
skippy, you didn’t use ERA (except to say that the Mets combo has a better ERA than the Marlins combo). You used a projected ERA based on one system. Considering Santana missed all of last season, and has come back at the very top end of expectations, I’m not so sure that ZIPs really has any idea of how to forecast his ERA. They projecting a 3.52 ERA for the rest of the year. He’s never had an ERA that high since becoming a starter, and he’s only been over 3.00 twice in his career. They’re also projecting a .301 babip, even though he’s never been above .280 since becoming a full time starter. Maybe he’ll suddenly start to show career-worst numbers, but that seems like a very pessimistic projection to me.
And with Dickey developing a new pitch and suddenly striking out a boatload of players, I’m not so sure that ZIPs knows what to do with him either.
Acting like missing a full season after trending slightly downward for a couple of years should be ignored in the face of two good months seems very optimistic to me. There is obviously a chance that Santana at 33 and having just missed a full season posts his best k/9 since ’07, his best or second-best babip ever, and doesn’t get hurt too much by his 2nd lowest career gb%. I’m not going to bet on that, though. He should still be a very good pitcher, but I’d be willing to bet his ERA comes up over the rest of the year.
Dickey is not the first player in history to drastically increase his k/9 in a two-month sample. Sometimes the difference is for real, other times it isn’t. I’m not going to try to guess which is which, because there’s ALWAYS an explanation given, even when it’s just luck. If he keeps this up for another couple of months I’ll agree that his true talent has changed. If you want to disagree with ZIPS and project him for an ERA of 3.00 or something around there I can understand that, but I’m not going to be on board with projecting him under a 3.00 right now.
Putting too much stock in ERA over a two-month sample is problematic. I’m not going to say that we shouldn’t use it, but in evaluating the four guys I’m not going to exclusively use Santana and Dickey’s ERA. I brought up their ERAs, and made the statement that you could argue they had done better (the reason being their better ERAs). In terms of production so far this year, I think it could go either way. But add in the better projections for Sanchez and Johnson (and I was restricted to ZIPs because I don’t know of any others that update during the season), and I think it swings firmly in favor of the Marlins pair. And that’s not to mention their home parks, which is another point in favor of Sanchez/Johnson. So far this year, Miami’s home park looks like a hitter’s park, while we know Citi Field is one of the better pitcher’s parks in the majors.
Comment by skippyballer486 — June 12, 2012 @ 3:03 am
I didn’t imply the fangraphs writer copied anything. “This article” referred to the article I linked to (the fangraphs design doesn’t show the link well).
There’s a lot wrong with Newsday in general, but there is plenty of decent Mets stuff in there. Not sure why it’s “crap,” or what your problem is with the points I brought up, since your response was flippant and devoid of useful information.