History suggests Dickey not done

Contrarian points of view have quickly become the norm in mainstream media. Residing on the end of the spectrum opposed to popular opinion powers the 24-hour news cycle, the sports talk radio circuit and, in this case, presents fantasy baseball pundits the opportunity to knock assumed studs off the preseason pedestal.

In the case of Blue Jays’ pitcher R.A. Dickey, several recent fantasy assessments were boiled down to, and I’m paraphrasing here,

“Dickey will not win 20 games.” … “How far will Dickey fall?” … “Breakout seasons don’t happen in your late 30s.” … and so on.

Following the first 20-win season of his career, it takes some huge marbles to predict Dickey’s regression in 2013. In fact, here’s a quick review of how many 20-game winners the game has produced since 2007:

  • 2007 – one
  • 2008 – four
  • 2009 – zero
  • 2010 – four
  • 2011 – three
  • 2012 – four

My diploma from MIT remains on backorder, but some quick math suggests Dickey’s chances of repeating a 20-win season are slim. However, if your reasons to cut down Dickey revolve around his age and/or pitching style, take a look at the stats of these 38-year-old knuckleballers:

Past Knuckleballers at 38 years old


Knuckleballer Season Wins K ERA WHIP
Phil Niekro 1977 16 262 4.03 1.45
Ted Lyons 1939 14 54 2.76 1.08
Joe Niekro 1983 15 152 3.48 1.28
Charlie Hough 1986 17 146 3.79 1.20
Tim Wakefield 2005 16 151 4.15 1.23
Tom Candiotti 1996 9 79 4.49 1.41
R.A. Dickey 2013 ? ? ? ?


As is becoming more evident by the season and as the national Sabremetrics and advanced metrics discussion evolves, statistics are open to interpretation, but this group of 38-year-old knuckleballers still produced – some at a high level indicative of fantasy value. Granted, the argument could be made that some of these pitchers listed in the table above enjoyed previous success prior to their 38th birthday.

To those critics who require a trend of past success, let me remind you of what Dickey achieved before Opening Day last season that had little to do with baseball. On March 29, 2012, the starting pitcher released a memoir chronicling a painful past. In Wherever I Wind Up, Dickey admitted that he was sexually abused by his babysitter as a child. Imagine the relief he must have felt lifting the massive mental block off his conscience.

Now, you can’t quantify it, you can’t come up with a catchy acronym for it and you can’t argue that Dickey’s focus in 2012 wasn’t at an all-time high. So, why, with all the haunting skeletons evicted from his closet, can’t Dickey, with an upgraded offense in Toronto, go out to the bump and win 20 games again?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Tweet at me @FOXSportsFowler.

2013 Fantasy Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

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