Fantasy Baseball Roundtable: Hold or Sell R.A. Dickey?

by Todd Zola, on June 27, 2012 @ 09:50:13 PDT


We try to come up with some outside-the-box topics, but sometimes, you just have to go with the hot button topic:

R.A. Dickey - hold or sell high?

Perry Van Hook adds some context:

Well in my opinion this is totally league and roster dependent. Is your pitching strong enough to lose what Dickey has contributed to your team so far this year? (Take out his stats and look what the rest of your staff has done and see where that puts you in your league's categories - obviously there would be a replacement for him so you could use league average numbers for that slot.)

And just as important what are you going to get for Dickey in a trade? Are those player(s) going to gain you more points than your pitching staff is going to lose?

I don't see any reason why Dickey will not continue to be an above-average starter but I am not as sure he can maintain the video game numbers he has to date. Still unless the trade was going to dramatically improve my team elsewhere I doubt I would merely "sell high."

Brian Walton holds a grudge:

I readily admit that I established my aversion to Dickey back in his Texas days a decade ago, when I considered his initials to mean "Runs Allowed." The moniker was earned. His Rangers ERA was 5.72 over parts of five seasons! It is difficult to warm up to a guy who I had considered to be dead to me, even though he is reinvented. I know it isn't totally logical. After all, I saw Dickey pitch for what I believe to be my first time in person at Citi Field a couple of weeks ago and I was amazed by what I saw. He was simply masterful, but the lingering concerns remain…

To the question posed, I wouldn't have owned Dickey in the first place, but if I did have him, I would not be averse at all to selling high. Of course that assumes a need elsewhere and willing buyers, or at least one of them.

Tim Heaney willing to say goodbye:

I'd try my darnndest to sell high. If forced to hold if no one takes him, plan for his correction.

I believe in Dickey to a degree because of the novelty of his knuckleball: It's faster than most, and he's gathered a bunch of tips on the pitch from the law firm of Wakefield, Niekro and Hough. The groundball penchant helps, too. He might have the most overlooked track record. 2010 and 2011 weren't bad, either. 

The Yanks have extensive experience facing the pitch, so Sunday night's performance wasn't surprising. Although FIP and xFIP don't point to a drastic correction, I'd still prepare for one. If I could help another area of my squad by getting a player with a track record, I'd sell. I still think he's a low- to mid-3.00s ERA arm this year - which on the surface is still solid - but getting back to those numbers could be painful for his owners.

Lawr Michaels with a practical view:

Well, like Brian, I too have been burned a few times by the old Dickey.

But, unfortunately, like Pee Wee Herman notes in his Big Adventure, "Some questions are answered, others spring up."

Why the sell high? What would one be looking to turn Dickey in to? If one has a surplus of pitching, and needs hitting, that is one thing. Or, even an abundance of starters, and needs a closer.

But, if Dickey is a linchpin to current success in the pitching standings, what realistically could anyone hope to get in exchange to mitigate the risk and stay competitive at least in a throw-back league.

If the question is building for the future in a keeper league, depending upon contract cost and retention, however, I see no reason why a lower tier team would not target him among others.

And, though Dickey is 37, which means no spring chicken, he has three straight solid seasons of production which is pretty good, and well, knuckle-ballers tend to have a long lifespan. Not to mention Dickey's knuckler seems to have a bit more velocity (and less rotation) than most.

So, for a couple of years' investment, I don't see him any riskier than say Tim Lincecum or Shaun Marcum or Stephen Strasburg or Roy Halladay or Cory Luebke or Tim Stauffer or Brandon McCarthy or Jeff Niemann, blah blah woof woof.

Nick Minnix with the exclamation point:

I'm with Lawr. If you're in a competitive league, there is nothing close to a sell-high concept anymore. What can you get for him? If my league-mates aren't going to give me something good for him, I'd be happy to ride him out, for reasons like those Lawr mentioned - the staying power of knuckleballers and the track record since his transformation. I'd be happy to risk the absorption of some correction this season if the market says that the correction will be worse than I expect it to be. Like Jeff Erickson likes to say, Gimme those strikeouts!

Lord Zola's Wrap-Up

Looking at Dickey blind, ignoring the fact he is a knuckler; his hit rate is on the lucky side, which has resulted in an artificially high LOB% and a deflated ERA. Still, as has been pointed out, his peripherals portend to a low 3's guy, which is still outstanding.

The real question is whether the league will catch up? While I admit I may be biased since I fondly recall winning my AL only league in 1995 on the heels of a 16-8, 2.95 campaign from Tim Wakefield, I am not expecting the crash some are contending is in store for Dickey.

With that said, when I am trading, how I value a player is irrelevant, what matters to me is how my opponents value a player. Sure, I have an expectation, but I do something similar to what Perry suggests and estimate how my staff would fare with a replacement and compare that to how my squad might do with a player acquired for the Mets ace. If the net is positive - bye bye Dickey. But like some of the others, I am not anxious to deal Dickey and treat him like anyone else, a commodity.

So I think my Knights and I are in agreement, even though Dickey is a knuckleball specialist, he should be treated just like any other hurler with a new skill that looks sustainable. While there has been some good fortune, there has been a whole lot more good pitching which is likely to carry over into the second half.

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About Todd Zola,

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at and, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums. Fantasy Baseball

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