Sometime in the coming week, manager Tony LaRussa will announce his starting pitcher for the National League team at the All-Star game. There is only one worthy choice: the New York Mets’ unlikely ace R.A. Dickey. While several other pitchers have put together strong first halves and are all deserving of All-Star team roster spots, none compares to Dickey in across-the-board excellence.
Dickey’s statistics show that his performance in the first half of the season has been unmatched. His 12 wins lead not only the National League, but all pitchers in the major leagues. He has only one loss on his record, suffered back in April – his nearest competitors in the wins column all have three or four losses. His 2.15 ERA is third in the league (and league-leader Brandon Beachy is out for the season, so his stats will soon fail to qualify on minimum innings pitched). Dickey’s 116 strikeouts – second in the league – are impressive enough, and then you have to consider that he never throws harder than 83 or 84 mph. League-leader Stephen Strasburg (122 Ks), by contrast, often approaches 100 mph with his fastball. Dickey’s 0.88 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) is tops in the league. So are his three complete games and two complete game shutouts. Add on two sparkling one hitters in June and a 42+ inning streak without giving up an earned run, and you have your indisputable National League All-Star starter.
How clearly does Dickey outstrip his rivals for the honor of starting the All-Star game? Here are the numbers:
R.A. Dickey: 12-1, 2.15 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, opponents’ BA .190, 3 CG (2 SHO), 116 K, 113 IP
Matt Cain: 9-3, 2.53 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, opponents’ BA .207, 2 CG (2 SHO), 114 K, 113 IP
James McDonald: 7-3, 2.44 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, opponents’ BA .200, 1 CG (0 SHO), 86 K, 96 IP
Gio Gonzales: 10-3, 2.78 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, opponents’ BA .191, 0 CG (0 SHO), 108 K, 90 IP
Madison Bumgarner: 10-4, 2.85 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, opponents’ BA .229, 1 CG (1 SHO), 92 K, 110 IP
Cole Hamels: 10-4, 3.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, opponents’ BA .232, 0 CG (O SHO), 111 K, 111 IP
Stephen Strasburg: 9-3, 2.81 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, opponents’ BA .217, 0 CG (0 SHO), 122 K, 93 IP
The numbers don’t lie – R.A. Dickey’s season has been unmatched by any other National League pitcher. Cain comes closest and has the best single-game pitching performance of the year, but Dickey bests him in every statistical category. The bottom line is this: an All-Star game start by anyone other than R.A. Dickey would be an injustice.