2010 was really a magical year for the former Tennessee two-sport star. It all started one night in Buffalo. Dickey gave up a hit to the leadoff batter in the opposing lineup. Of course the fans then said "here we go again" right? Well not so fast. Dickey then retired the next 27 batters in order. That would be the start of something special. After being called up in May, Dickey was quick to prove that he was deserving of a spot in the rotation. His first start against the Nats was a great one at that. The so-called knuckleballer threw six innings of two run ball. The story would remain the same throughout the rest of the season. Unlike the Mets, Dickey was consistent.
Pitching 174.1 innings, he sported a 3.65 FIP for the Amazin's. Even with his 2.9 fWAR, Dickey's career year was really his only good season in the majors. The former Twin, Ranger, and Mariner never really got it together until the move to NY. Prior to 2010, the highest ERA+ he ever had in a season was 99. Not only that, but his 1.57 WHIP and his 1.53 K/BB ratio prior to pitching for the Mets were far less impressive than in NY, where he posted a 1.18 WHIP and a 2.48 K/BB ratio.
Furthermore, it was simply a tremendous feel good story to see a guy with a 54 MPH curveball and a missing ligament in his elbow dominate Major League hitters, especially some of the best in baseball. Two of Dickey's starts against the Phillies resulted in a scoreless outing. One of those, a one-hit shutout.
But like many pitchers and hitters who enjoy magical breakout seasons, it often results with regression the following year, and lots of it. Unfortunately for Dickey, his stuff is not superior. He features a knuckleball which was 15.9 runs above average in 2010. That knuckleball, which has been described as a curveball in the past, usually tops out at 75 MPH or so. His rarely used curveball sits in the mid-50's. Again, he doesn't throw it too often. His fastball, which was also above average, sits around 83 MPH. So unlike pitchers with a 95 MPH fastball and a big body to go along with a durable frame, Dickey is on paper, vulnerable to some regression if history repeats itself.
Recently in arbitration, Dickey filed for $4.7MM while Sandy's crew filed for $3.35MM. Thus, even if R.A. does regress, the money is certainly nowhere near overwhelming. It is also not untradeable by any means. If this deal wasn't agreed upon, Dickey would have been eligible after the upcoming season.
So as many have and will eventually point out, despite the feel good story that R.A. provided to the Mets and their fans in '10, we may not see him repeat. However, even some regression might put his FIP around 3.90, which is still certainly respectable. His ground ball rate should stay in the neighborhood of where it was in 2010 (55%) and his velocity shouldn't drop either.
With all of this said, I'm obviously glad that things have worked out for Dickey, and I'm really looking forward to seeing he and his teamates play this season. Dickey deserves this and may there be many more feel good stories to come!