Top 5 Reasons R.A. Dickey Is the MVP, and Cy Young
Let's face it. Outside of Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, the National League hitters have been somewhat disappointing so far this season.
Arguments could be made for the likes of Yadier Molina for his impeccable two-way domination behind the plate or for a Ryan Braun with his high batting average and power numbers. While these three players have played up to their potential so far this season, they are not the most valuable player in the league.
That distinction goes to a pitcher in New York. No, not C.C. Sabathia. Not Johan Santana, either. Not even Andy Pettitte, though his performance at his age is honorable.
Dickey's performance in the first half of the season puts everyone else's performances to shame. This guy, a later-round pickup in most fantasy leagues, leads all fantasy pitchers and is currently the No. 6 fantasy producer, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Here are the top five reasons Dickey should be the MVP and Cy Young winner.
5. Opponent Batting Average
Dickey currently sits in fourth place in the majors in opponent batting average.
I know what you're thinking—that's a great argument to start off with. Well it is, when you consider that OBA is .194.
Dickey has allowed 67 hits to the opposition this year in 99 innings of work.
While he is middle of the pack in that statistic, his .194 OBA is still impressive—worthy of the No. 5 reason he is the MVP.
When baseball fans are drafting their fantasy teams or just trying to predict who will be a Cy Young candidate, strikeouts are one of the top statistical categories they consider.
Let's look at some of the favorites:
- Tim Lincecum: 83 K
- C.C. Sabathia: 102 K
- Stephen Strasburg: 100 K
- Zack Greinke: 95 K
- Clayton Kershaw: 88 K
- Justin Verlander: 103 K
- And lastly, R.A. Dickey: 103 K
When you look at this list, you see a group of fireballers with tremendous breaking balls.
Then there's the outlier. Dickey is a knuckleballer. His fastball hits, at its peak, 85 miles per hour.
Many of the other names on that list can hit nearly 100 MPH.
Dickey averages over a strikeout per inning (103 K in 99 IP). Enough said.
3. Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio
The strikeout-to-walk ratio can be summed up into one word—command.
Walks kill innings. Strikeouts save innings.
Dickey, with his major-league high-tying 103 strikeouts, shows that his knuckleball has been finding the mark.
If anyone has ever tried to throw, catch or hit a knuckleball, odds are no one has any idea of where it will end up or how far it will be hit, if at all. The variability and lack of control of the knuckleball makes it quite the intriguing pitch.
As Bob Uecker said (via SI), "The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling then pick it up."
Well, Dickey's knuckleball has been rolling so well that he has found a way to absolutely pound the strike zone—at least, as much pounding as possible with a sub-80 MPH pitch.
Dickey has walked 21 hitters to go with his 103 Ks, which gives him a 4.90 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In simpler terms, Dickey strikes out almost five hitters before walking one.
Commanding, isn't it?
WHIP is a very simple statistic. Total walks and hits divided by innings pitched.
A simple way to look at it, if a pitcher gives up two hits in an inning, his WHIP is 2.00.
If a pitcher gives up a hit and a walk in an inning, his WHIP is again 2.00
Obviously, perfect innings are 0.00.
Fellow MLB-strikeout leader Justin Verlander has a WHIP at 0.97.
What does this all mean? Simply, domination.
Dickey's 0.89 WHIP can be put into perspective with a simple math problem.
.89 WHIP x 9 Innings = Total Runners on base in a game
.89 x 9 = 8.01 Runners on base per nine-inning game. Now that number doesn't seem all that low.
Consider this, Tim Lincecum's WHIP is a 1.57. The same math says he allows 14 baserunners per game.
It's easy to see how having six fewer baserunners leads to far greater success.
Again, advantage Dickey.
1. Records, Records and Records
You can't say a player is really that valuable if his team doesn't win.
Before the Reds' six-game winning-streak in mid-June, they were a meager five games above .500.
Donned by many as the NL Central favorite, the Reds have only recently started to pull away from their weaker division foes (that pains me to say as a Cubs fan, but there is always next year, right?).
The upstart Pittsburgh Pirates are only 3.5 games behind at this point, so Cincinnati hasn't established anything yet.
New York, on the other hand, plays in arguably the toughest division in baseball, the NL East. With the Phillies, Nationals, Braves and Marlins, the only thing that division is missing is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mets are 36-32, are four games behind the Nationals and are currently fourth in the National League standings.
Dickey is a huge part of that success. Of his 14 starts, he has 12 quality starts.
His last two starts? Nothing special. Only back-to-back one hitters. Oh, OK, he probably did it against the Cubs and Twins, right?
OK, that's only two starts. Dickey hasn't given up an earned run since May 22. That includes starts against the Nationals, Cardinals, Rays and Orioles.
Dickey is 11-1 this season with an ERA at 2.00. He is tied for the MLB lead in strikeouts, has the lowest WHIP and ERA and has the highest winning percentage of any eligible starter.
I hope Dickey doesn't slow down when the temperatures drop, as he is accustomed to. If he keeps up this pace, the knuckleballer could be on a record-setting pace and may lead the Mets back to the postseason.
One thing is for sure—R.A. Dickey isn't just the Cy Young favorite. He's the MVP as well.