Tuesday, July 10, 2012
A R.A.-diculous statistical first half
By Mark Simon
Getty Images/J.A. Meric
R.A. Dickey had among the most memorable first halves in Mets history.
R.A. Dickey’s numbers weren’t good enough to merit an All-Star starting nod from Tony LaRussa.
But they’re good enough to merit mention and further analysis from us.
How good was Dickey’s first half? Consider the following …
He’s the first Met to have at least 12 wins and one loss or fewer at the All-Star Break. Prior to this, the most wins by a Mets pitcher with one loss or fewer at the break was Terry Leach and his 8-0 mark in 1987.
Dickey is the 14th pitcher to have a record of 12-1 or better at the All-Star break, the eighth since the Mets franchise’s inception in 1962.
His 2.40 ERA is the fourth-best among those 14, surpassed only by reliever Roy Face (1959 Pirates, 0.83), and starters Ron Guidry (1978 Yankees, 1.99) and Ubaldo Jimenez (2010 Rockies, 2.20).
His 123 strikeouts are second-most by any of those 14, trailing only Guidry’s 127.
Dickey’s 12 wins are the most by a Mets pitcher at the All-Star Break since Frank Viola won 13 in 1990, and two shy of the Mets record of 14, set by Tom Seaver in 1969 and 1970.
Dickey did set a mark for the most wins (12) by a pitcher, with one loss or fewer, who averaged at least one strikeout per inning pitched. The previous “record” of 10 was set by Francisco Liriano for the 2006 Twins.
A ‘Terrific’ Combination
Dickey is the second pitcher in Mets history to have an ERA of less than 2.50 and average better than a strikeout per inning by the All-Star Break. The other was Seaver in 1970.
How rare is that combo? No New York City pitchers (on either the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers) has previously reached them at the All-Star Break other than Seaver and Dickey.
Dwight Gooden fell a hair short of this in 1985, posting a 1.68 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 155 2/3 innings prior to the break.
Thou Shalt Not Steal
Dickey has pitched 120 innings this season and not allowed a stolen base.
Only one Met has had more innings pitched at the All-Star Break without allowing a stolen base- Jack Fisher (124) in 1965.
Dickey is tied for the NL lead in wins with Gio Gonzalez and pitcher Wins Above Replacement with Johnny Cueto.
No Met has led that stat at season's end since Gooden in 1985.
Dickey also leads the NL in WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched), something only Seaver, Gooden, and Pedro Martinez (the most recent in 2005) have done prior as Mets over a full season.
Dickey’s Not the Only One ...
My ESPN.com “Kernels of Wisdom” writing colleague Doug Kern noted that this was the first time in major league history that each league had a pitcher with at least 10 wins and one loss at the All-Star Break. Jered Weaver is 10-1 for the Angels.
Alas, neither will be starting in the All-Star Game.
Best of the Mets
So where does this Dickey half-season rank among the best of the Mets first halves by a pitcher?
Those two starts against the Yankees and Phillies prior to the break bumped Dickey’s numbers up to a point where he doesn’t rank among the very very best.
Gooden’s 1985 (13-3, 1.68 ERA) is the standard-setter and you could take your pick among a bunch of different Seaver seasons for second-best.
But after that, Dickey is very much in the mix, alongside pitchers like Sid Fernandez, Jerry Koosman, Martinez, and Viola.
And that’s pretty good company to be in.