“Disappointment” and Perspective

A quick peek at Josh Beckett, whose shutdown of the Minnesota Twins last night was overshadowed by a certain slugger, and some more of his numbers:

  • Wins: 16, career-high, ranked #5 in the AL.  One more start remaining, at least.
  • 198.0 Innings, a career-high, in the AL, where pitchers get yanked more often than Ron Jeremy (it’s been a while since we had one of those references)
  • 32 starts and counting, also a career-high.
  • WHIP: 1.29, by my quick estimation that puts him at #16 among starters in the AL, #13 amongst starters who have played the full season
  • 150K, #13 in the AL
  • 1.000 fielding percentage, #18 ranked in range factor amongst full-time starters, ahead of even the revered Mike Mussina, and significantly so.
  • 26 years old, and counting.

Just goes to show you that disappointment is relative.  Beckett, no doubt disappointing, has still been a good, and potentially great, pickup. Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and no-hitters notwithstanding.   This is what good trades are all about.

22 comments… add one
  • the question I have about those 198 innings is did Beckett change his pitching style in order to avoid his normal stint on the DL? And if so, did that approach change hurt his ability to fool batters. I think his k-rate was the lowest its been ever and, of course, his hr-rate spiked. He successfully avoided blisters and oblique strains but at what cost? Is 150-178 innings of 3.30 ERA baseball worth less than 200 plus innings of 4.80 ERA?

    Nick-YF September 22, 2006, 12:55 pm
  • I can cherry pick stats just as well as you can.
    To wit:
    HR allowed by young Beckett: 34 (2nd most in all of baseball).
    Stats vs NYY: 2-2, 9.45 ERA, 20 IP, 14 K, 16 BB, 2.00 WHIP
    VORP 79th of all MLB pitchers
    K/9 of 6.8, well below career line of 8.4

    Tommy September 22, 2006, 12:55 pm
  • “Beckett, no doubt disappointing, has still been a good, and potentially great, pickup”
    the more I read this post, the more I have to scratch my head. I wouldn’t say Randy Johnson has been good this year. He’s been an innings-eater and there’s some value in that, but I wouldn’t qualify it as “good” pitching. Have Sox fans lowered their expectations so much that “good” is a 4.80 ERA?

    Nick-YF September 22, 2006, 1:04 pm
  • Wow, I was just trying to balance the generic “Josh Beckett is a sack of shit” stuff that’s been bandied about. I was in no way implying that Beckett has been Cy Young or anything else, just that he’s hardly been the disaster that many want us to believe. And Tom: I didn’t cite the HR numbers or other weak parts of his game precisely because they’ve been cited ad nauseum, we all know them already, they are in our base of knowledge about Beckett. I took it for granted that we all have been through that part of his season already, and in depth. On the other hand, some of his other contributions have been disregarded entirely, and they let us know a bit more about the value of this trade that has been attacked and/or critiqued by everyone and their sister.

    SF September 22, 2006, 1:37 pm
  • And Nick: I said that Beckett was a “good pickup”, that this was a good trade. Nothing more. I think you’ve extended that to assume that I think he’s had a really good year, which I don’t. I just see more in Beckett than what has led many to dismiss him.

    SF September 22, 2006, 1:40 pm
  • It would seem after combining SF’s #s with Tommy’s, Becket is about quantity and not quality. The Sox FO, for sure, can find a cheaper innings eater than Beckett. And the ERA vs NYY must improve significantly or else he’ll be Boston’s Jose Contreras.
    The Ron Jeremy ref was choice though.

    lp September 22, 2006, 1:42 pm
  • did Beckett change his pitching style in order to avoid his normal stint on the DL? And if so, did that approach change hurt his ability to fool batters
    This is a VERY good question. Last night it looked like Beckett’s pitches were moving all over the place, like he was working with a cutter, a tailing fastball that jumped in at righthanded batters. Instead of just trying to blow guys away, he had a low 90s fastball that moved a ton, in addition to the straight heat. I wonder if he’s learning. I hope.

    SF September 22, 2006, 1:43 pm
  • SF, you seem to be hedging slightly. I think Beckett has turned in a crap season, especially given the fanfare associated with his acquisition. The career highs you bring up (innings, wins, starts) are the direct result of remaining healthy, not because of him having a good season.
    And not citing the bad numbers (that you assume that we all have in the forefront of our minds) in a post that essentially makes the point that Beckett wasn’t that bad in 06, is very misleading. Tommy’s numbers significantly weaken your post.

    lp September 22, 2006, 1:58 pm
  • WE ALL KNOW THE BAD NUMBERS ALREADY. I felt no need to re-type lines and lines of information that we all have assimilated. I made an assumption that our readership would understand this in the context of this post. I was wrong, I guess.
    I am not hedging anything. I also believe that many people don’t understand that there simply aren’t that many 26 year old guys who win 16/17 games(and yes, I KNOW wins are not the greatest statistic to utilize) in their first year in the AL and who have several components of their game that are well above league average. I am simply trying to flesh out Beckett a little more than has been done in the past. “Cherry picking” would be to deny the poor performances, to cite only the good numbers as evidence of a good season, I am NOT doing that. Beckett has been a disappointment, but he has also done some things that bode quite well going forward, and some of those things are traits of someone who has the ability to become an extremely valuable player. He is already valuable. Just not as valuable as we had hoped.
    I don’t believe I am doing anything deceptive here, nor am I stating anything irrational. I think you guys are trying a little too hard to turn a post that is basically trying to get at who Beckett is as a pitcher in a little more depth into a garden variety nose-thumbing. “Weakening” my post is irrelevant, to be honest, since the post doesn’t really present anything stating that Beckett is anything more than he’s been this year.

    SF September 22, 2006, 2:09 pm
  • It would have been interesting to see how he would have performed in Oct. I hope Randy redeems himself, it would make the bad/poor/”disappointing” season forgotten.

    Seth September 22, 2006, 2:17 pm
  • SF, regarding your comment on the other post about the stark variation between Beckett’s good and bad starts: I wonder if a season like Beckett’s in which he’s been very good for 2/3’s of his start and awful for the rest of them is better of worse than a pitcher who pitches consistently at a 4.8 clip (4 runs in 5-6 innings). Are they equal? Does this question make sense?

    Nick-YF September 22, 2006, 2:37 pm
  • Good question. How the hell do you figure that one out? Gut tells me that having a guy who gives up the 4.8 runs every game is more useful, especially on a team that scores 5.4 runs a game. He’d go 32-0 if you applied the same principle to both the pitcher and his supporting cast – if you want to be fair about it.
    On the other hand, and in more real terms, I think that the 67% surely shows the potential of Beckett much more readily than does the 33%. Add in some decent peripherals (like his fielding, his decent WHIP, his better health – possible changes in pitching style nothwithstanding), and there’s reason to think that drooling about this guy isn’t unwarranted.

    SF September 22, 2006, 2:48 pm
  • Not to nitpick, SF, but you didn’t mention Beckett’s 19 Quality Starts. That ties him for fifth in the AL with Roy Halladay, whom I hear is pretty good. He’s also third in the league in Batting Average Against (.243), behind only Johan Santana (.215) and Mike Mussina (.242). I hear those guys are pretty good too.
    Also of note, Beckett gave up 26 before the All-Star Break, and he’s only given up EIGHT since. He boasts a sparkling 2.23 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in his 19 Quality Starts. He’s currently 2-1 in the month of September with a nifty 3.00 ERA too.
    Cherry picking? Maybe. But the current version of Josh Beckett has some very good numbers to go with the bad ones; that’s the kind of season he’s had. The fact that he’s still young, stayed healthy all year, and showcased some genuine brilliance more than half the time bodes well for 2007 and beyond, I’d say. Drool away. :)

    mouse September 22, 2006, 3:19 pm
  • …i’ve been one of beckett’s biggest detractors on this site in the short time i’ve been participating in these discussions…beckett is not a bad pitcher, and his year was not “crap”…i’ve used the word “inconsistent” based on the mixed bag of results…when he’s been good, he’s been awesome…when he’s been bad, he’s been really, really, bad…the stats you’re all quoting seem to bear that [inconsistency] out…i’ve also used the word “disappointment”, which got me hammered, but in another attempt to explain myself, by “disappointing”, i merely mean he did not live up to the expectations, which were very high…i also said he’s a good #3 starter, maybe #2…again, not to disparage him, but he didn’t show the kind of consistency you want from an ace or a losing-streak stopper….but, cut him some slack…he’s still young, did not have the benefit of his pitching coach all year [although nipper is fine], was adjusting to a new league, and maybe felt some pressure being on a team where fans care more than his old team…whatever the deal, he’s still had a respectable year…the most important stat of all is 16 wins…i know it’s a team game, but that tells me, at least 16 times he pitched good enough to take advantage of the run support he was given…not bad…i’d take him on the yankees any day…

    dc September 22, 2006, 3:50 pm
  • Why are Yank fans so quick to forget all the other comments we’ve posted on this site analyzing and dissecting Beckett’s problems and successes this year?
    He’s had horrific starts. Looking at either set of numbers (good starts and bad starts) by itself amounts to cherry picking, Tommy and lp. The vast majority of Beckett’s 34 home runs came in his 11 bad starts. Barely any came in his 19 excellent ones. Looking at the 4.80 ERA is equally misleading (I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a case where ERA is so misleading).
    Looking at his 5 ERA makes it sound like Beckett was nothing more than a 5 starter all year long. Looking at a 2 ERA over 20 starts and a 9+ ERA over 10 makes it a much different scenario.
    Likewise, Beckett dominated New York in two starts and got clobbered in two others, so it’s also deceptive to say “He’s got a 9+ ERA against New York, so he’s sucked against them this year.” Please. We all know what kind of season Beckett’s had. Don’t be so naive to think you can convince us or yourselves that he’s been a horrible pickup.

    Paul SF September 22, 2006, 3:52 pm
  • Incidentally, Nick, I’d say that no matter how good a pitcher is, he’s likely to lose/not win a third of his games. Sometimes luck goes the pitcher’s way and he gets something like 25 wins against 5 losses, but a 20-game winner usually makes 30-plus starts.
    So if Beckett ends up with 17-18 wins out of 30-plus starts — and deserves those wins, which he surely does, considering his numbers during quality starts — he’s done exactly what he should do. The fact that he’s gotten hammered in the rest and given his team no chance at all to make him a lucky 25-game winner is troubling, and it runs the risk that if he’s unlucky that year, he only wins 10 of those 20 quality starts.
    Nevertheless, it seems 2/3 of Walter Johnson is better than 3/3 of Jason Johnson (4.88 lifetime ERA entering this season).

    Paul SF September 22, 2006, 3:59 pm
  • Paul, I don’t think anybody’s saying he’s been a horrible pick-up. I would say that if this is, in fact, the Beckett you have for the next 4 years (and that’s probably not likely), then it’s a bad pick-up considering the cost (Hanley, Anibal and the money). Consistency makes a good pitcher. You can’t just erase those 9 starts from the record and say they signify little. They hurt the Red Sox a lot in ways that merely mediocre starts couldn’t. You give up 4 runs in 6 innings and it’s not a good start. It’s mediocre, at least you haven’t had to go to your bullpen to early and you’re still in the game. Beckett’s 7 runs in 4 innings was another story. The Sox lost those games early and had to use up their whole bullpen.

    Nick-YF September 22, 2006, 4:03 pm
  • I agree, Nick. It’s not acceptable long-term, but the good Beckett’s been so good this season, it might be the only time I’ve ever been encouraged by a pitcher with so many simply atrocious games.

    Paul SF September 22, 2006, 4:08 pm
  • it’s an interesting paradox. Pitching is such a difficult craft. Watching Beckett this year, you have to appreciate pitchers who have been able to be consistently good over a long period. Pedro, The Big Unit, Mussina, Schilling, Glavine, Maddux all deserve respect.

    Nick-YF September 22, 2006, 4:13 pm
  • Here’s some nitpicking: Pedro, Unit, Maddux (and Clemens, too, don’t forget) have been consistently GREAT, not just good. Glavine and Schill have been intermittently great but generally good (Glavine moreso), and Moose has been consistently good, rarely great though. Guys like Pedro, Clemens, Maddux, and the Unit just boggle the mind. We’re lucky to have seen them pitch at their best for a long period.

    SF September 22, 2006, 4:26 pm
  • Pedro, Clemens, Maddux and the like are the “freaks of nature.” Those are the guys that only come around once in a very great while.
    Not for nothing, but when Schilling was Beckett’s age, his numbers were decent, but they certainly didn’t scream “ace in the hole” to the casual observer:
    Schilling at 26 (1993 w/ Phillies): 235.1 IP 8.95 H/9 7.11 K/9 2.18 BB/9 0.88 HR/9 1.23 WHIP ERA+ 100
    This guy was very similar that same year, and he was also 26 at the time:
    243.2 IP 7.68 H/9 7.68 K/9 3.69 BB/9 0.85 HR/9 1.26 WHIP ERA+ 112
    The second pitcher is John Smoltz.
    Obviously, I’m not saying Josh Beckett is destined to be the next Schilling or Smoltz–just citing those numbers for some perspective…and precedent. It’s tantalizing to consider, at least.

    mouse September 22, 2006, 4:30 pm
  • If you look at some of the games Schilling pitched from 2002-04, he was absolutely phenomenal, likely the best pitcher in baseball, challenged only by his teammate, Randy Johnson.
    He had a two-hit, 17-K, 1-walk game in 2002, and a 14-K, 1 walk game for the Sox in 2004 (or something like that — don’t have the stats on me). Amazing, particularly considering his age.

    Paul SF September 22, 2006, 4:36 pm

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