When you think of dominating hurlers, classic power pitchers such as Justin Verlander or Stephen Strasburg may be the first names you think of. Or perhaps it's Cliff Lee's patently unfair changeup or Mo Rivera's eternally unhittable cutter that pop into your mind.
All good answers, but at this very moment, no pitcher in baseball is destroying batting averages or slugging percentages to the extent of a 37-year-old journeyman with 52 career major league wins, one Robert Alan Dickey.
Baseball has always had its share of crazy out-of-nowhere stories, but Dickey's story is definitely one of the good ones. He was drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers in 1996, and although it's not uncommon for doctors to discover an injury, what made Dickey's case surprising was that he was missing a ligament in his elbow. The Rangers reduced their signing bonus offer by 90 percent, and Dickey signed with the team.
Through the end of the 2009 season, Dickey's career line stood at 22-28 with a 5.43 ERA and 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings -- not exactly numbers that make you want to sign a pitcher in his mid-30s. Dickey initially learned to throw a knuckler after the 2005 season, but still hadn't had much success with the pitch until he joined the New York Mets. Since signing with them in December 2009, Dickey has won 30 games with an ace-worthy ERA of 2.86.
Dickey is 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA this season, good enough for NL Cy Young Award consideration if the season ended Tuesday morning. His 11th win came in stylish fashion Monday night against the Baltimore Orioles, a second consecutive one-hitter, with 13 strikeouts.
Just how dominating has Dickey been this year? Let us count the ways.