A lot of attention has been given to the Red Sox’s three MVP candidates: Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, and Dustin Pedroia. And while they deserve every bit of the attention they’ve been given, Josh Beckett could and should win the Cy Young award.
Josh Beckett went from a power pitcher to a complete pitcher this season. His average fastball velocity has dropped 0.7 MPH since last year and 1.5 MPH since 2007. Last season he threw a fastball 36.3% of the time. Yet, so far this season he has thrown it 34.6% of the time.
Beckett threw his cutter just 0.1% of the time back in 2007 and last season 16.2% of the time. This season though, Beckett has thrown it 20.4% of the time. As for his changeup, he threw it 3.8% of the time in 2007, 11.5% of the time in 2010, and so far 15% of the time in this season. For more, see the data bellow from Fan Graphs.
While people have been noticing Beckett’s bounce back season, it doesn’t seem like people are putting him in the same class with C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Jered Weaver. But, Beckett’s numbers are equal to Sabathia’s , Verlander’s, and Weaver’s.
Some voters don’t seem to care about wins anymore. Felix Hernandez won the A.L. Cy Young award last year with a thirteen and twelve record. In my opinion the best stats to judge a pitcher on are ERA, WHIP, Batting Average Against, Quality Starts, and K/9. Strikeouts per nine innings is a better stat than strikeouts, but isn’t as important as the other four stats.
Here are the four Cy Young candidates’ stats as well as where their stats rank among American League starting pitchers.
When you average their stat ranks, including wins and K/9, Beckett’s average is eight, Sabathia’s is 8.67, Verlander’s average is 1.83, while Weaver’s is 4.5.
Yet, when you average their stat ranks, without wins and K/9, Beckett’s average is three, Sabathia’s is 10.5, Verlander’s average is 1.5, and Weaver’s is two.
But, when you average their stat ranks, not including wins, Beckett’s average is a five, Sabathia is a 10.2, Verlander’s average is a two, and lastly, Weaver has an average on 4.8.
However, when you average their stat ranks, not including K/9, Beckett is a seven, Sabathia is an 8.6, while Verlander’s average is 1.4, and Weaver has an average of 2.2.
What can you take away from this? Well, Sabathia hasn’t been as good as he has been subscribed. He is just benefiting from playing in a large market. Verlander is first, every time you do it, but Weaver follows in at a close second and Beckett is at a somewhat distant third. If you value any three of the stats used above, than it is clear that Sabathia shouldn’t win the award.
Yet, the voters look at more than stats. If you happen to be a big game pitcher that sure helps. When the Angels played in Detroit recently, Weaver and Verlander went head to head. Verlander carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Weaver on the other hand, gave up two home runs, lost his cool, got ejected and subsequently suspended. Weaver cracked under the pressure of having his team no-hit and going up against one of the best. To me, that moment showed that Jered Weaver is not a big game pitcher.
Josh Beckett on the other hand, has a record of three and zero in four starts against the rival, New York Yankees. In those four starts (twenty-seven innings) he has an ERA of 1.00 and an opponent batting average of just .170. Also, against the rival Tampa Bay Rays, Beckett has an ERA of 0.00 and the Rays are hitting just .038 off him this season.
So that leaves Beckett and Verlander. One thing that will help Verlander’s case is his no-hitter this season against the Blue Jays (I guess Toronto forgot to steal signs that day). Yet, if I’m a voter I think the fact that Beckett has reinvented himself as a pitcher will impact my vote. Ohh, and pitching in a bigger market than your “opponent” doesn’t hurt your case.
While the numbers say Verlander should win it, stats can’t tell everything and besides, we still have over seven weeks of baseball to decide on who will be the 2011 A.L. Cy Young award winner.
* All stats as of Thursday, Aug. 11