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
The Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in a right-handed hitting right fielder and while Ludwick hasn’t played right field this year, he has played right field in over sixty percent of his career games. From the Padres perspective, it only makes since to trade Ludwick. The Padres haven’t been able to capture last year’s magic and are currently last in the N.L. West.
Ludwick will be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season and is scheduled to make $6,775,000 this season. Ludwick is the second highest paid player on the Padres behind closer Heath Bell ($7,500,000) who will also most likely be traded before the deadline.
As of right now, the Red Sox have five outfielders on their active roster: Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Darnell McDonald, and Josh Reddick. If Boston did acquire Ludwick, McDonald would probably be the odd man out. However, Reddick could be sent down in order to get more playing time.
McDonald isn’t the same player that we saw last year. In 2010 he had an average of .270 with thirty-four RBI in 117 games. This year, in forty games, McDonald is batting just .160 with thirteen RBI. On the other side, Reddick batted .194 with just five RBI in sixty-two plate appearances last year. Yet, this year, Reddick is batting .347 with eighteen RBI in seventy-five plate appearances. Reddick is twenty-four, still developing, and has a bright future, while McDonald is thirty-two with dimmer future. Since neither Reddick or McDonald would start unless an injury, Reddick could get sent down to AAA in order to get more playing time, as previously noted.
Reddick is the one thing that makes this deal less likely. If Reddick continues at his hot pace, Boston doesn’t need to make a trade for an outfielder. However, unlike Ludwick, Reddick is a lefty and not a righty when it comes to hitting.
If the Red Sox were to acquire Ludwick, you might think the Red Sox would platoon Drew and Ludwick. They could start Drew against righties since Drew is a lefty and Ludwick against lefties since Ludwick is a righty. However, against righties, Ludwick is batting .002 points higher than Drew, slugging .061 points higher than Drew, and has an OPS .032 points higher than Drew.
Also and obviously, both players are past their prime. Drew (thirty-five years old) peaked back in 2004 as a member of the Atlanta Braves and Ludwick (thirty-three years old) peaked back in 2008 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
So far this season, Ludwick is batting .241, with fifty-seven RBI, eleven home runs, and seventy-nine strikeouts in 345 plate appearances. Drew, on the other hand, is batting .223, with twenty-two RBI, four home runs, and fifty-six strikeouts in 233 plate appearances. I think it is safe to say that Drew will not be resigning with the Red Sox when his five-year, $70 million dollar contract expires at the end of the season.
It has been a decent run, J.D. and while you’ve given Red Sox Nation some good memories (a grand slam in game six of the 2007 ALCS), it is time to either call it quits or step aside and let someone else, patrol right field at Fenway Park. Wether that person is Reddick, Ludwick, or someone else, someone besides Drew needs to start in right.
With the trading deadline less then two weeks away, leading up the the trading deadline, Soxoholics will be taking a look at some guys the Red Sox reportedly have their eye on.
Even though according to various sources it is looking less and less likely that the Mets will be trading their star shortstop, an all-star with an expiring contract on a sub .500 team can never be counted out until August 1st. Jed Lowrie has been on the disabled list for a month now and he’s, “. . . growing stronger, may swing bat soon,” who knows how long he’ll actually be out. Every American league team at least five games back has a better shortstop than Marco Scutaro (no disrespect). Derek Jeter (NYY), Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE), Jhonny Peralta (DET), Alexi Ramirez (CWS), Elvis Andrus (TEX) and Erick Aybar (LAA) are all significantly better than Sctuaro.
Now, even though a trade like this is highly unlikely, what would the Red Sox have to give up in order to get Reyes? Well, if the Mets demanded that they get a shortstop in return, the trade would be completely off as the Red Sox see twenty-one year old, Jose Iglesias as their shortstop of the future. After that the Mets would probably ask for either Stolmy Pimentel or Drake Britton. Lastly, the Red Sox might “toss in” Lars Anderson now that his path to Fenway Park has been blocked do the the Adrian Gonzalez trade. That’s the Red Sox’s first, fourth or sixth, and their fifth ranked prospects. Obviously, that is probably a little too much which is why people negotiate.
One thing to take note on Reyes is that he was placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring on July 7th. While it isn’t anything serious and he is due to come back within the next few days, it is just a thought that General Manager and Executive Vice President, Theo Epstein should have in the back of his head.
If the Red Sox do decide to go all in and acquire Reyes, their lineup would feature a player with all-star experience (including four players this year, not including Josh Beckett and Jon Lester) at every position with the exception of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Personally, combined with Josh Beckett, a hot John Lackey, and hopefully a healthy Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, I can’t see how they could be stopped.
However, with so many all-stars in one lineup, what would the lineup look like? This is what I have in mind . . .
1.) Jacoby Ellsbury: CF
2.) Dustin Pedroia: 2B
3.) Adrian Gonzalez: 1B
4.) Kevin Youkilis: 3B
5.) David Ortiz: DH
6.) Carl Crawford: LF
7.) Jose Reyes: SS
8.) J.D. Drew: RF
9.) Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Jason Varitek: C
It’s essentially the same lineup the only difference being Reyes. Crawford and Reyes as well as Drew and Saltalamacchia/ Varitek are interchangeable in my mind. And if Pedroia or Ellsbury begin to slump Reyes could bat first or second. This trade is most likely not going to happen, but if it did, it would take the Red Sox to the next level in my mind. A level that right now, no one is on.
Hits don’t really mean much to players that get hits all the time, but the ones that do, mean a lot. For example, walk off hit in game 7 of the World Series, a record breaking hit, someones 100th or 3,000th career hit would obviously mean a lot. But for Adrian Gonzalez, today he had a hit that definitely meant a lot to him.
Today when the Boston Red Sox were facing the Milwaukee Brewers, in the bottom of the fourth inning Adrian Gonzalez hit his 1,000th career hit. Not only was it Gonzalez’s 1,000th career hit, it was also Gonzalez’s 3rd triple of the season, a career high for triples in a single season.
After the game David Ortiz told Gonzalez “You don’t get that everyday, that might be a fathers day gift.” Also after the game, Gonzalez told reporters, “I was telling Jacoby [Ellsbury] I have more triples than you do. He just said, ‘Hey, you’re faster than me.'”