|Another Mets snub for the All-Star Game, in terms of starting it. (Getty Images)|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What do we look for in a starting pitcher who deserves to get the nod as an All-Star Game starter? I came up with four points.
• Best first half, stat-wise.
• Who the fans most want to see.
• A great story.
• Who can best leave his team in position to win?
And when I look at Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey and how he rates in those four criteria? Check, check, check and check. I actually don't even think there should be a question.
Giants starter Matt Cain is a great pitcher and has been for a few years. He's ace-caliber and certainly worthy of getting the ball to start an All-Star Game, but this season should have been Dickey's time. Instead, Cain will get the ball, which is the wrong decision.
In terms of stats, let's look:
Cain: 9-3, 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 118 K, 120 1/3 IP, 2 CG, 2 SHO
Dickey: 12-1, 2.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 123 K, 120 IP, 3 CG, 2 SHO
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In terms of who the fans most want to see, that's hard to judge without a fan vote, but I've got to think watching a knuckleballer throw in the 80s is awfully entertaining for all fans. I'm sure Giants fans will disagree, but they already have three position player starters to watch. Mets fans, meanwhile, already had seen David Wright snubbed at third base. This isn't about making everyone happy, either, as both Wright and Dickey deserve to start based upon merit over Pablo Sandoval and Cain, respectively.
In terms of the story, Cain threw a perfect game this season. That was awesome. But so did Philip Humber. Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro this past offseason -- against the wishes of some Mets' front office personnel, reportedly -- and could become the first knuckleballer in baseball history to win the Cy Young Award. I'll take the latter storyline.
In terms of who can best leave his team in position to win, the Mets are 14-3 when Dickey starts. The Giants are 11-6 when Cain starts. Using Wins Above Replacement player, Dickey has a rather significant advantage over Cain in both baseball-reference.com version (3.6 to 2.4) and Fangraphs.com version (3.2 to 2.7).
Simply, in whatever terms one wants to put this, it seems like Dickey should have been an easy choice. There were reports last week that NL manager Tony La Russa (who made the decision to start Cain) was worried about the All-Star catchers not being able to handle Dickey's knuckler, which could end up costing his team the game. If that's legitimate, we shouldn't see Dickey in the game at all Tuesday night. Instead, I have a hunch he'll pitch. It'll just be a few innings later than his rightful place.