Thursday afternoon could be very special for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and the New York Mets.
When Dickey takes the mound for the last game at Citi Field in 2012, he will be trying to do something a Mets pitcher has not done since 1990: win 20 games in a season.
An accomplishment like that would at least send Mets' fans home with a good memory in a miserable season. It would also be the feather in the cap for Dickey who is trying to solidify his case for the National League Cy Young Award.
Obviously, there's something that looks pretty about that number, Dickey said. I'm not going to pretend that it's not nice. But my whole mentality is geared around, 'How can I be consistent?' So I'm going to go out there and try to put up a quality start, just like I always do, and hopefully it will equal a win. (via Mets.com)
That mentality of being consistent is the reason why Dickey is the MVP of the New York Mets this season, because he has been a model of consistency in an up-and-down season.
To call a knuckleball pitcher a consistent player is a contradiction but Dickey's season proves otherwise.
His record stands at 19-6 with a 2.66 ERA which is the best in the National League. He also has the most innings pitched in the NL and is second in strikeouts with 209. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a ridiculous 4.02. That is practically unheard of for a guy who throws a pitch that dances over the zone with no actual direction.
The fact that Dickey pitches for the Mets makes these numbers all the more impressive. In his last 10 starts, the Mets are 5-5, with Dickey going 5-4.
He only allowed 19 earned runs in those 10 starts, but the offense gave him no run support. Put him in a rotation on a winning club or with more support and Dickey easily has three or four more victories tallied to his record.
Now take Dickey out of that rotation, and all the predictions before the season about the Mets being the worst team in the league holds a little more weight.
Fans of sabermetrics will point out that Dickey's WAR (wins above replacement) is 5.2. That puts him in elite company in the NL, but given how valuable he has been, it is hard to believe it is not higher.
One of the reasons why the Mets were even a story before the All-Star break is Dickey. His May and June were absolutely magical.
He went 4-0 in May with 1.83 ERA. His June was even better going 5-0 with a 0.93 ERA. Also, he threw three complete games with back-to-back one-hitters.
Even if Dickey does not reach that magic No. 20, it still does not take away everything he has accomplished for the Mets. Manager Terry Collins understands that.
"What we're trying to do is give him the best chance to have a very, very positive end to a tremendous season," said Collins, who called Dickey's pursuit "a special thing." (via Newsday)
A special thing indeed and R.A. Dickey is a special player who has risen to the occasion.
Numbers never lie and seeing is believing, so it is pretty clear R.A. Dickey is the New York Mets MVP in 2012.