Keeper Search: R.A. Dickey

If I were to ask you who the No. 1 pitcher on ESPN’s Player Rater is at the All Star Break, how many of you would’ve come up with R.A. Dickey on your own?

Realizing Dickey has had a great 2012, I admit I was shocked when I saw his name at the top of the board for pitchers. I mean, how often is it that a knuckleballer has more value in fantasy baseball than strikeout artists such as Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, etc.?

Seeing that Dickey is making a name for himself in fantasy circles this season, let’s take a look at his value past 2012.

Dickey’s value is derived from a 12-1 record that is accompanied by a 2.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 123 K in 120 IP. Looking at his past, these numbers scream red flags as he hasn’t posted a K/9 over 6 since 2004 and his 4.7 K/BB is more than 2 better than his previous season best. Add in that this career year is coming at age 37, and it seems like the only smart move is to sell high.

Hopefully, you realize that the numbers aren’t telling the whole story though, given that Dickey is anything but the typical pitcher on a typical path to MLB success. Since Dickey is a knuckleballer, the traditional rules of aging (if there is such a thing) hardly apply. Just look at how long Tim Wakefield was a serviceable pitcher in the majors. True, he hasn’t been fantasy relevant for quite a long time, but he had a long career in which he made a ton of money – if only we all could get so lucky.

As for Dickey, it really is hard to recommend him as a keeper for 2013 given the data, but if fantasy owners are still viewing Alex Rodriguez as keeper material at this point in his career, then why can’t Dickey be kept?

Unfortunately, there are a couple more red flags to consider when deciding Dickey’s fate. In the past, players who return first round value in one year have been highly unlikely to return that value the following season. If Dickey were to keep things going this way this season, the odds of a repeat are heavily stacked against him.

Another red flag is obviously the fact that pitchers struggle a lot more to stay healthy than hitters. One bit of good news (maybe?) though is that it appears Dickey does not have a UCL, the elbow ligament that is repaired in Tommy John surgery. I guess if he doesn’t have the ligament he can’t blow it out right? And if he can’t blow it out, there’s one less type of injury he can sustain that will knock him out for a period of time.

If I’m the Dickey owner in my league, I think this would be the best time to try and trade Dickey to a contender in need of pitching. I can’t imagine going into 2013 with a knuckleballer as the ace of my staff. I think owners need to be excited for the return on investment they received for Dickey this year and leave it at that.

It’s great to see Dickey enjoy some positives in his life after all he apparently has been through, but luck only runs for so long.

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About Jim Higgins

Jim grew up in San Diego the son of a Washington, D.C. native so naturally he roots for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Padres. After seeing his favorite teams win a couple of titles early in his life, he has spent the last 20 years wondering if his teams will ever amount to anything again. At least he has multiple fantasy baseball and football titles to soften the blow.

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