Comparing R.A. Dickey's 2012 Campaign to Best Mets Pitching Seasons Ever

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIISeptember 20, 2012

Comparing R.A. Dickey's 2012 Campaign to Best Mets Pitching Seasons Ever

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    R.A. Dickey has put together one of the most dominant campaigns in New York Mets history. He currently leads the league in ERA, strikeouts, complete games and shutouts, and is in the midst of polishing his resume for a Cy Young bid.

    There's no denying that Dickey has compiled the best season by a Mets pitcher in the last 20 years, but how does he stack up against other Mets legends.

    Here we will compare Dickey's 2012 campaign to that of the top-five seasons that a Mets pitcher has ever had.

    Spoiler alert: Tom Seaver will not be the only Mets great in this slideshow. 

    Here are Dickey's statistics.

    All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.

2012 R.A. Dickey vs. 1976 Jerry Koosman

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    In 1976, 33-year-old Jerry Koosman tore through Major League Baseball to the tune of a 21-10 record and a 2.69 ERA.

    Despite the team scoring nearly 30 runs below the league average, Koosman was able to finish second in Cy Young voting behind San Diego Padres pitcher Randy Jones who hurled 25 CG and racked up 315.1 innings pitched.

    As of Wednesday, September 19, R.A. Dickey has an 18-6 record and a 2.67 ERA. The Nashville native has already struck out five more batters in 30 starts than Koosman did in 32.

    Dickey holds a slight edge in strikeouts per nine innings (8.7 to 7.3), but is highly unlikely to surpass the 247.1 innings that Koosman was on the hill for.

    Koosman blows Dickey away when it comes to complete games (17 to five), but managers have become considerably wary of overextending their most prized pitchers.

    The 1976 Mets weren't terrible, as they finished 10 games over .500. That department is where 2012 Dickey solidifies his superiority over 1976 Koosman.

    Terry Collins' 2012 Mets have become increasingly dreadful to watch. Anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to baseball over the last few months knows that the Mets can't hit, so there is no need to elaborate on that.

    Advantage: 2012 R.A. Dickey

2012 R.A. Dickey vs. 1988 David Cone

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    David Cone is considered more of a New York Yankee great than he is a New York Mets great, and rightfully so, as all but one of his best years in New York came in the Bronx, but his 1988 statistics were some of the best Shea Stadium had ever seen.

    Cone accumulated a 2.22 ERA, 213 strikeouts and finished third in Cy Young voting behind Orel Hershiser (shocker!) and Danny Jackson.

    He didn't join the starting rotation until May 3, 1988 against the Atlanta Braves, delivering right away with a complete game shutout. However, he never had a stretch in which he allowed no earned runs in five consecutive starts (Cone only had five all season).

    The main thing to take into account here, as well as the most detrimental to 1988 Cone's chances against 2012 Dickey's, is that he pitched for a team that won 100 games—the last Mets team to do so.

    Cone finished with a 20-3 record and led the league with an .870 win percentage, but was substantially aided by the potent Mets offense that scored 703 runs that season, 33 more than the second-ranked San Francisco Giants.

    He didn't have to worry about keeping a goose egg on the board (although he did exactly that occasionally), something that is usually a huge advantage for a pitcher and his psyche.

    It all boils down to Dickey's back-to-back complete game, one hitters that came during his ridiculous five-start stretch.

    Advantage: 2012 R.A. Dickey

2012 R.A. Dickey vs. 1969 Tom Seaver

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    It is impossible to take away from the seasons that 1976 Jerry Koosman and 1988 David Cone had, but we have now reached the elite; the seasons that electrified Flushing and provided unforgettable experiences for everyone involved.

    We'll start off with acknowledging that Tom Seaver's 1969 statistics directly contributed to the New York Mets winning their first World Series in franchise history. Dickey does not have that on his resume, so unfortunately, he's already at a disadvantage.

    "Tom Terrific" led the league with 25 wins (seven losses) and shut down nearly every opponent that he came up against in that miracle season.

    Seaver was unable to reach the seventh inning in just four of his 35 starts, which led to him throwing 273.1 innings while allowing a league-low 6.7 hits per nine innings.

    Remember the praise Dickey got for his wild five-start streak on the last slide? Yeah, well, 1969 Seaver's final eight starts put it to shame.

    From August 26 to September 27, Seaver dished out eight of his 18 complete games, surrendering just eight earned runs in 72 innings.

    He finished second in MVP voting to Willie McCovey (.320 batting average, 46 home runs and 126 RBI), but was awarded the Cy Young as his consolation prize.

    When you combine Seaver's allure with the miracle season that he spearheaded, Dickey doesn't have much of a chance.

    Advantage: 1969 Tom Seaver

2012 R.A. Dickey vs. 1971 Tom Seaver

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    No surprises here. Tom Seaver holds two spots on the list of the top-five pitching seasons in New York Mets history.

    Who finishes with an 1.76 ERA? 1971 Seaver does.

    The 26-year-old Seaver came as close as anyone had come to matching Bob Gibson following his 1968 ERA of 1.12 (until the pitcher on the next slide). 

    "The Franchise" went the distance in 21 of his 35 starts, finished 20-10, punched out a league-leading 289 batters (9.1 strikeouts per nine innings) and crossed the finish line with a 0.946 WHIP.

    Seaver had one of the best seasons baseball has ever seen, but finished second in Cy Young voting to Fergie Jenkins who pitched on an otherworldly level for nearly every one of his 39 starts.

    Fortunately for 1971 Seaver, he's going to get the nod over 2012 R.A. Dickey for two reasons: He pitched at least nine innings in all but one of his final 12 starts and allowed two earned runs or less in 29 starts.

    Dickey has been good, but not that good.

    Advantage: 1971 Tom Seaver

2012 R.A. Dickey vs. 1985 Dwight Gooden

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    Whether you agree or not may depend on your generation, but Dwight Gooden's 1985 season is the closest any pitcher has ever come to mirroring Bob Gibson's 1968 crusade on baseball.

    Gooden burst onto the scene in his 1984 Rookie of the Year campaign and wowed fans with his stuff, but he was simply off the charts the following year.

    In 1984, "Doc" led the league in wins (24-4), ERA (1.53), innings pitched (276.2), strikeouts (268) and complete games (16).

    There aren't many seasons that even come close to those numbers.

    Oh, he also finished with a .965 WHIP and an average of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Gooden won the Cy Young award unanimously, and posted an eye-popping 11.9 Wins Above Replacement—the highest WAR mark for a pitcher since Walter Johnson's 14.3 in 1913.

    R.A. Dickey's stats in his five starts from May 27 to June 18 were comparable to Gooden's, but Gooden put up those numbers for pretty much the entire season.

    While both pitchers had their respective stadiums radiating confidence and exuberance, Gooden was much more fierce.

    As a power pitcher, hitters were afraid to step up to the plate against Gooden. Hitters are more confused than scared when facing the knuckleballing Dickey.

    One parallel between the two pitchers is the extremes in their ages at the time of their rise to prominence.

    Dickey, who spent most of his career wallowing in mediocrity or worse, is finishing up his best season at the age of 39. Gooden—at the complete opposite end of the spectrum—ran roughshod on the league at just 20 years old.

    Gooden's career went south in the 1990s, but he solidified himself in the annals of Mets lore in 1985.

    Advantage: 1985 Dwight Gooden