2016 Blue Jays Season Review: R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey
R.A. Dickey

Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.

 

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R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballing author, spent his final season in a Blue Jays’ uniform struggling to find himself. His ERA bloated to his highest since he joined the New York Mets in 2010 while he failed to gain the trust of the Blue Jays’ coaching staff when things mattered most.

Looking at his splits, Dickey had a lot of trouble at Rogers Centre, posting a 5.28 ERA and 1.41 WHIP at home while those numbers fell to 3.56 and 1.32 respectively on the road. Most important, however is his first-half/second-half split. In the first half, he was typical R.A. Dickey with 116 2/3 innings, a 3.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, striking out 83 and walking 40. In the second half, however, he only threw 53 innings over 11 outings (including one bullpen outing on September 21, his last of the year) with a 5.60 ERA and 1.53 WHIP, striking out 43 and walking 23.

While Dickey’s 4.46 ERA was higher than it’s been this decade, his FIP (5.03) and xFIP (4.76) were also about a half a run higher than he has put up since 2009 (except for his 4.72 xFIP last year). According to Fangraphs, Dickey posted a 1.0 fWAR, his lowest in a full season since 2009 and his four seasons as a Blue Jay gave him 6.4 wins above replacement, compared to 5.0 in his 2012 Cy-Young-winning season with the Mets.

As a Blue Jay, Dickey’s main talent was to pitch deep into games and eat up innings, throwing well over 200 innings in each season since 2011. In 2015, while he would often give up several runs in a start, the offense was so powerful that the club would let him continue to pitch, knowing that the Jays’ power could neutralize those runs. In 2016, however, the often anemic offense couldn’t overcome Dickey’s frequent outbursts of over five runs per game (nine times in 2016). While statistically, little seemed to be different in Dickey’s approach (his knuckleball velocity remained constant at 76.1 mph) but a soaring home-run-to-fly-ball rate (HR/FB)–up to 14.7% this year from 9.8% last year–led to a career-high home run rate of 1.5 per nine innings.

In the long run, R.A. Dickey became this year’s version of last year’s Mark Buehrle. Buehrle struggled down the stretch and was left off the playoff roster. This year, with the Blue Jays vying for a Wild Card spot and with Dickey having lost the trust of management, he made his final appearance on September 21, and was left off the Blue Jays’ playoff roster.

 

Contract Status

 

R.A. Dickey is a free agent and signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves.

 

Emily Says

 

R.A. Dickey had a 10-14 record in 30 games in his final season before free agency. At 41, he was the oldest player on the team, and the last remaining Blue Jay to be older than the franchise itself.

He had a stretch of seven starts in April and May where he went six innings or longer, including eight shutout innings with three hits in Texas. His ERA for May was 3.20, with a 3.44 in June. He actually allowed the same number of runs in both months – 17 total, 14 earned – but threw 2.2 more innings in May.

His ERA ballooned to 6.28 for July, after back-to-back 6-run outings. He also hit three batters in the month, and had a season-high number of walks, with 14. He gave up 11 earned runs over 29 innings in August, for an ERA of 3.41. In two seven-hit starts in September, he allowed five runs in one, and none in the other.

Dickey’s last appearance as a Blue Jay was in relief in extra innings in Seattle. He threw a third of an inning and allowed an unearned run, ending the game, after two errors by Josh Donaldson.

At 4.46, he had the worst ERA among the Jay’s starters. His WHIP was 1.37, and his K/BB was 2.00. He had his highest walk rate (3.34 per nine innings) since 2009, and also allowed 28 home runs.

He successfully picked off four baserunners in the season, and only allowed two stolen bases. The first of those was on July 10th, over a year since his previous stolen base allowed on July 4th, 2015. He was nominated for the AL Gold Glove award for pitchers, but lost to Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.

Dickey was left off of the post-season roster, partly because they already had four capable pitchers, and also so his personal catcher Josh Thole wouldn’t take up a redundant roster spot.

 

Regular Season Grades

 

Jay: B- (first half), D+ (second half)
Emily: C+

 

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