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10/29/1974 (42 y, 4 m, 27 d)
2007 Rule 5 Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 12, Overall: 12, Team: Seattle Mariners
$8M / 1 Years (2017) + 1 Option Years
Dickey gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out three over six innings during Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Mets. (3/26/2017)
Fantasy Implications: Colon, Dickey, Kendrick, & M»
Jeff Zimmerman (RotoGraphs)
The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 403 – Mid-tier F»
Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs)
Atlanta's Offseason Is Off to a Decent Start
Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs)
The Knuckleball Is More Conventional Than It Seems
Eno Sarris (FanGraphs)
Brandon Warne (RotoGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Ahh, knuckleballers. They’re fun to watch, annoying as anything to hit against, and essentially impossible to project. In 2008 and 2009, Dickey failed to land his knuckler in the strike zone with any frequency, so opposing hitters just let him fall behind in the count and then whacked his “fastball”. Last year, he inexplicably cut his walk rate in half, and voila, instant ace. Can he do it again? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. Flip a coin, roll the dice, consult a medium, or just pick an auction value out of a hat, and it’s all about equally likely to lead you to the right answer. Dickey showed last year that he can be tough to hit when the knuckler is floating, but we already knew that. Can he keep dancing it around the strike zone for another 35 starts? We’ll find out. If you’re into betting big on wild guesses, Dickey is the pitcher for you. (Dave Cameron)
The Quick Opinion:
The ultimate wild card. He could be good, he could be lousy, he could be anything in between. Bid accordingly.
R.A. Dickey is RAD. Trust this despite his so-so swinging strike rates and poor strikeout rates. Dude is well-read, well-spoken, and down-to-earth. Oh, and has great control for a knuckleballer. Perhaps it's the fact that he has three separate speeds for his knuckler, but he also gets a strong ground-ball rate for a pitcher of his ilk (55.1% and 50.8% over the past two years respectively). DIPS theory sometimes has an asterisk for knuckleballers -- and why not, given the unconventional way the ball moves -- but if you can stomach the lack of strikeouts, Dickey's control and ground-balls will make him the best knuckler on your draft board. And a good late-round value in leagues of any depth. (Eno Sarris)
The Quick Opinion:
R.A. Dickey climbed Kilimanjaro for charity against the Mets' wishes this offseason, and that's about the third-coolest thing about him. Don't think too much about his three different knucklers or his propensity for Star Wars quotes -- just draft him late for value.
R.A. Dickey calls one of his bats Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, but he won't have much use for it any more in Toronto. That's all fine and good -- he's useful for a trick of a different sort -- but it seems meaningful nonetheless. Any pitcher coming off a Cy Young season is a candidate for regression, so it would be folly to expect exactly the same from Dickey again, even if you ignore his new homer-friendly home in the tougher league. Dickey's swinging strike rate also lurched forward from about league-average into elite territory (12.2%) last season, so it's hard to tell if he'll keep that gain next year. It's tempting to look at the change in his pitching mix --
he threw more harder and faster knuckleballs than he ever had before
-- and call it a change for the good. And maybe his new approach will lead to another year with more than the ~15% strikeout rate he used to show when he was more good than great in 2010 and 2011, and maybe it won't. The good news is that the floor looks mighty high. Knuckleballers always benefit from a lower batting average on balls in play than the general population, and the Dickey of the last three years adds extraordinary control to that package. The combo should lead to a strong ERA even in less friendly confines. Draft him for innings and ERA, and if you didn't pay for a strikeout per inning, you'll be plenty pleased if he can repeat the feat. (
The Quick Opinion:
The 2012 National League Cy Young winner will now ply his trade in a much more difficult park in a more difficult league and in one of the most difficult divisions. It's okay, he's overcome so much to get here that he can do this, too. His high floor makes him, at the very least, good middle-of-the-rotation pickup in any league.
Not only is Dickey dang good, but he
makes the guys behind him better
. Not relevant in fantasy, though. More concerning is the fact that the 39-year-old knuckleballer took steps back in the following stats in 2013: ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate, walk rate, home run rate, swinging strike rate, ground-ball rate, knuckleball velocity, and innings pitched. Some of that is to be expected from an older man. But, as he pointed out, a more conventional younger pitcher
wouldn't have been able to pitch through the injury
he had this season. Obviously a real-life team enjoys a pitcher that can pitch through pain and still be valuable, but fantasy teams have a higher benchmark. Yes,
an injury can keep him from throwing the hard knuckler
-- and enjoying all the success that comes with that pitch -- and yet still allow him to stay off the disabled list. Fantasy owners might rather he was excellent while in and in the extra injury slot while hurt. That alone probably pushes him out of contention for the top three starter slots on your fantasy team, even if a healthy year still has the upside of above-average strikeouts for a starter, a good WHIP, and many many innings. We know that knuckleballers
aren't any more likely to give up homers than regular pitchers
, but it sure seems like the move to the American League has given Dickey a little homeritis. If you are upbeat about his chances, take the over on his projections -- he's no normal 39-year-old, and knuckleballers always enjoy good batting averages on balls in play. (
The Quick Opinion:
The projections probably won't help with R.A. Dickey. They make assumptions about balls in play that don't hold for knuckleballers. So, use your scouting eye or your intuition: can a 39-year-old put together another healthy year with the hard knuckler? If you think so, improve his projected numbers across the board and enjoy a cheap and useful fantasy pitcher.
R.A. Dickey oscillated from from "fun knuckleballer to root for" to "possible ace" then back to "engima" over the last five years. Although we know that defense-independent metrics like FIP are not much help with knuckleballers, most recent past performance and context do matter. Dickey's 2010-2012 run with the Mets was fun, but the days of a sub-three ERA are probably gone. Not only was that a few years ago, but he was in a much more pitcher-friendly park and in the National League. His strikeout rate is still pretty good, but has come down since that magical 2012 season, and his walk rate has gone up. Still, his rates in that respect are decent for a starting pitcher. What makes Dickey so good is that in his case, it is reasonable to expect a sub-.280 batting average on balls in play. He does seem a bit susceptible to the long ball, and there is a reason to be a bit wary of even good knuckleballers like Dickey. When he loses the "feel" of the pitch, things get messy. But even in his extremely disappointing 2013, his ERA was 4.21 -- hardly ace-worthy these days, but his WHIP stayed decent for a starter and he still pitched enough to get a high number of strikeouts. Dickey is not a fantasy ace, but 200 or more innings with a sub-three ERA, a good WHIP, and fair share of strikeouts make him a useful starter in all but the deepest fantasy leagues. He's very valuable in AL-only leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
The Quick Opinion:
Once one realizes that the 2010-2012 Dickey is probably gone for good, it is easier to accept that he is still a very good fantasy pitcher, even if he is nothing like an ace.
This 41-year-old knuckle baller has become a serviceable innings eater for the Blue Jays. He goes out every five days, throws six-plus innings, and generally limits the damage enough for Toronto’s loaded offense to score enough runs to win. These traits helped Dickey get to double digit wins for the fourth straight season, but the rest of his talent is on the decline. Since Dickey usually throws a ton of innings, his 2013 to 2014 strikeout totals were high, even with his seven strikeouts per nine. In 2015, his K/9 dropped to 5.3. His 126 strikeouts made the lowest total for a pitcher with over 200 innings pitched. Since his trade to Toronto, his ground ball rate has hovered just over 40% after being around 50% with the Mets. The lower GB% has led to higher home run rate which has bloated his ERA and ERA estimators. Even with the extra home runs allowed, his batting average on balls in play is historically low because he throws a knuckle ball. The low BABIP has allowed his ERA to be about 35 points lower than his FIP. This difference not enough to make up for the other deficiencies and make him playable in mixed leagues. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
R.A. Dickey is becoming more and more unplayable in all but the deepest of leagues. He needs his 2015 strikeout rate to rebound to be mixed league relevant.
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Updated: Monday, March 27, 2017 3:36 AM ET
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