R.A. Dickey Mini-Scouting Report

It appears that R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays is all but a done deal; with just the surrounding pieces needing to be ironed out.

With that said, here’s a quick Saturday night mini-scouting report on R.A. I’m going to avoid going into details that you’ll find on many other sites. We’re named Mop-Up Duty for a reason :)

Cliff Notes

  • R.A. put it all together in 2012, led NL in K & IP, near top in ERA, W, etc
  • While 2012 was the breakout, Dickey has been an effective MLB starter since 2010
  • Solid year-to-year producer in terms of FIP, xFIP
  • Knucleballer (approx 85%), backing it up with low 80′s sinker and a forkball (classified as a curve on Pitch F/X systems)
  • 38 years old, previously requested 2 year, $26 million extension from the Mets

 

Inside the Numbers 2012:

  • wOBA: .278
  • BABIP: .280
  • BA: .226
  • 50%+ GB Rate

Top of the line stats:

  • Swing Percentage: 50.4% (96th percentile)
  • Strike Percentage: 68.9% (97th percentile)
  • Chase Percentage: 33% (91st percentile)
  • Called Strike Percentage: 37.3% (92nd percentile)
  • Infield Air Out: 38 (10th overall MLB)
  • FB Distance: 263 (79th percentile)
  • Well-Hit-Average: .159 (82nd percentile, MLB avg: .197)
Flyball’s, HR hit at below MLB average distances, which is a good sign. As the strike data indicates, Dickey throws strikes early and often. The swing rate is near the top of the MLB. When opponents do not swing, the ump comes to Dickey’s aid and calls strikes in the 92nd percentile. In-turn, this leads to the high chase percentage. Long story short–opponents have no choice but to hack away at pitches early in AB’s. This has to work to R.A’s advantage, as this gives batters fewer looks at the knuckleball in question.
Pitch F/X Data:
Here are two images (based upon spin velocity & movement) , taken from Texas Leaguer Pitch F/X charts. The first come from Brandon Morrow’s fastball during his final 2012 MLB start. Notice the tight-ish clusters on both images:
And now to illustrate the difficulty batters face when matching up against the knuckleball, check out the same two type of graphs, expect this time they showcase R.A’s knuckler from his final 2012 MLB start:
Variety of movement and spins = makes the pitch difficult to square up (and I imagine difficult to catch).
Location:

 

The knuckleball is thrown all over the strike zone. This goes back to the strike data we looked at earlier in the article. Dickey stays within the zone, and forces batters to swing or risk a 37%+ chance of taking a strike call.

Dickey’s change of pace is his sinker. It acts as a loss leader (.911 OPS against, .386 wOBA) and is designed to earn strikes (78.2% thrown for strikes, an insanely high rate):

 Hit Type Stats:

  • Linedrive: .736 BA, .945 SLG, .733 wOBA
  • Flyball: .249 BA, .663 SLG , .356 wOBA
  • Groundball: .169 BA, .189 SLG, .158 wOBA

In line with MLB averages, higher SLG is to be expected on flyballs due to the nature of the knuckleball.

Stolen Bases Against:

R.A Dickey did an amazing job in controlling opponents running games– not just for a knuckleball pitcher but any pitcher. He allowed only 4 SB in 7 attempts over 233 IP. He also tied for 6th in the MLB with 5 pick-offs.

Conclusion:
In my mind R.A Dickey is a pitcher with a solid track record (2.8, 2.5, 4.8 WAR in his past three seasons) that knows how to pitch, control the running game, get ahead in counts and, especially in 2012, put hitters away. A repeat of 2012 is hardly a guarantee but even a regression to 2010, 2011 levels gives the Jays a solid inning eater in the rotation. And if he’s able to recapture some of the glory from last season….
Note: Article thrown together at 5pm, Sat afternoon, before trade completion, full list of players involved, etc.
Sources: ESPN True Media, Texas Leaguer Pitch F/X, Baseball Reference Play Index, Fan Graphs

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +