LOS ANGELES -- David Wright is 29 years old and has been to five All-Star Games. He is about to make it a sixth as a third-base reserve later this month in Kansas City, as announced on Sunday's MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
Compare that to pitcher R.A. Dickey, who is 37 years old and has never even sniffed an All-Star Game -- until now. In a nod to one of the best statistical first halves by any Mets pitcher in history, Dickey also made the NL team and is a prime candidate to start the game at Kauffman Stadium, which will air on FOX at 8 p.m. ET on July 10.
"Obviously, it's an honor," Dickey said. "And more than that, for me, it's something to be shared. It's not an honor just for me. It's an honor for every person that's ever poured into me and helped me along the way, every fan that believed that special things could happen if you apply yourself."
By this point, Dickey's story is well known. Desperate to remain in professional baseball by any means possible, Dickey converted to a full-time knuckleball pitcher in 2005, and had a breakout season with the Mets in '10. Two years later, he is enjoying one of the best seasons by any knuckleballer in history, going 12-1 with a 2.15 ERA, 116 strikeouts and 25 walks over his first 16 starts.
Earlier this season, Dickey ripped off 44 2/3 consecutive innings without an earned run, the second-longest stretch in franchise history. Over a six-start run from May 22 to June 18 that contained the bulk of his scoreless streak, the knuckleballer went 6-0 with a 0.18 ERA, 63 strikeouts, 21 hits and five walks in 48 2/3 innings.
National League roster
Buster Posey, SF
Joey Votto, CIN
Dan Uggla, ATL
Rafael Furcal, STL
Pablo Sandoval, SF
Melky Cabrera, SF
Carlos Beltran, STL
Matt Kemp, LAD
Matt Cain, SF
Aroldis Chapman, CIN
R.A. Dickey, NYM
Gio Gonzalez, WAS
Cole Hamels, PHI
Joel Hanrahan, PIT
Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Craig Kimbrel, ATL
Lance Lynn, STL
Wade Miley, ARI
Jonathan Papelbon, PHI
Stephen Strasburg, WAS
Huston Street, SD
Yadier Molina, STL
Carlos Ruiz, PHI
Bryan LaHair, CHC
Jose Altuve, HOU
Starlin Castro, CHC
Ian Desmond, WAS
David Wright, NYM
Ryan Braun, MIL
Jay Bruce, CIN
Carlos Gonzalez, COL
Andrew McCutchen, PIT
Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
Dickey leads the NL with 12 wins, ranks second with 116 strikeouts, third with a 2.15 ERA and first by a wide margin with a 0.88 WHIP. And he has done it mostly by throwing his knuckleball at least as fast as anyone in history, dialing his signature pitch into the low 80s with regularity.
"Incredible," said Wright, adding that he believed Dickey should start the game. "I would say that this would be a great ending to a terrific story, but I think this is just the beginning."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Dickey's closest rival for an All-Star start appears to be Giants right-hander Matt Cain, who pitched a perfect game earlier this season, ranks third in the NL with 114 strikeouts, tied for sixth with nine wins, seventh with a 2.53 ERA and second with a 0.95 WHIP. Besides Dickey, the only pitcher in baseball to rank in the top three in more than one of those categories is Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy, whose season ended with Tommy John surgery last month.
So, barring a significant change in those numbers between now and July 9, when NL manager Tony La Russa will announce his starter, Dickey appears to be the odds-on favorite to start the game. Both he and Cain have one more start scheduled before they head to Kansas City.
"I feel like there's a lot of people who are worthy of starting the game," Dickey said. "Whether I pitch an inning, I start the game or I pitch the whole thing, it doesn't matter personally to me. I would certainly be honored if I was given the ball in the first inning, sure."
Joining Dickey in Kansas City will be Wright, who lost to San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval in fan voting despite outpacing Sandoval in every major offensive category -- and leading the balloting by nearly a half-million votes as recently as Tuesday. Wright has spent most of this season either atop or close to the top of the league in both batting average and on-base percentage, and leads NL third basemen by a wide margin in average, OBP, slugging, hits and runs scored. He is also pacing third-sackers in doubles and walks.
"You can never complain about going to an All-Star Game no matter how you get there," Wright said. "Would you like to start? Of course, everybody would like to start. But that's not the case, and I understand how the system works and I respect that system."
"The baseball people saw it fit that David's on this club, which he deserves to be," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who will serve on La Russa's All-Star coaching staff. "We've just got to do a better job of making sure our fans want to come and see us. We've got to start winning more games so that we don't have this happen."
The only other Mets player to garner serious All-Star consideration was left-hander Johan Santana, who rebounded from major shoulder surgery to go 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA over his first 11 starts. But Santana scuffled a bit in early June, and Saturday's eight scoreless innings against the Dodgers were not enough to put him on La Russa's squad.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.