R.A. Dickey handily won the National League Cy Young Award in a victory that is great for him personally, really good for baseball, and provides a tip of the hat to the sportswriters who voted for him.
Dickey is one of the really good guys in the sport who has overcome a lot personally and professionally and had arguably the greatest season of any pure knuckleballer (Dickey said, he had spoken to or gotten text messages from knuckleheads Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough. “This is a victory for all of us,” Dickey said.)
I can't help but be struck by the vast difference between Dickey and AL CYA winner David Price. While they are both from Tennessee and both are represented by Bo McKinnis, Price averaged 91.2 m.p.h. per pitch while Dickey's pitches averaged 77.8. Price's fastest fastball was 99.6 m.p.h. while Dickey's was 86.1, two mph slower than Price's changeup.
In trying to find a visual example to display the differences between Price and Dickey, I opted to show pitches that batters swung and missed.
Here's Price's swings and misses
You can see the variance and the typical successful diagonal.
Here's Dickey's swings and misses
You can see batters thinking about the knuckball mantra: If it's low, let it go, if it's high, let it fly."
“They didn’t see the knuckleball as a trick pitch; they didn’t see it as some kind of illegitimate weapon that isn’t worthy,” Dickey said. “They saw it as a legitimate weapon that has one purpose, and that’s to get big-league hitters out consistently. And they respected that. They had the imagination to see beyond some of, maybe, the old-school mentalities of what the knuckleball used to look like.”
While there are many stats that might reflect Dickey's history, I find the most telling to be his transaction history:
- June 3, 1993: Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 10th round of the 1993 amateur draft, but did not sign.
- June 4, 1996: Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 1st round (18th pick) of the 1996 amateur draft. Player signed September 12, 1996.
- October 11, 2006: Granted Free Agency.
- January 10, 2007: Signed as a Free Agent with the Milwaukee Brewers.
- October 29, 2007: Granted Free Agency.
- November 29, 2007: Signed as a Free Agent with the Minnesota Twins.
- December 6, 2007: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners from the Minnesota Twins in the 2007 rule 5 draft.
- March 29, 2008: Returned (earlier draft pick) by the Seattle Mariners to the Minnesota Twins.
- March 29, 2008: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Seattle Mariners for Jair Fernandez (minors).
- December 9, 2008: Granted Free Agency.
- December 26, 2008: Signed as a Free Agent with the Minnesota Twins.
- October 6, 2009: Granted Free Agency.
- December 21, 2009: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Mets.
Congratulations to R.A. Dickey.