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 didn’t pull off a blockbuster, like they have in years past, at the trading deadline this year. Boston’s biggest needs were a shortstop, a starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever, and a right-handed hitting outfielder. The emergence of Josh Reddick took the Red Sox out of the outfielder market.
On the other side, with left-handed batters hitting just .195 off of Alfredo Aceves and improved pitching from Matt Albers and Dan Wheeler, they took Boston out of the reliever market.
That left shortstop and starting pitching as the two needs for Boston. Boston acquired utility-infielder, Mike Aviles for Kansas City for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz. Aviles can play third, second, as well as shortstop and is also a good base runner as he was ten for twelve in stolen base attempts, while with the Royals.
Fielding wise, Aviles’ best position is probably second base, followed by shortstop and third base. However, career wise, Aviles has spent the majority of his time in the field at shortstop. Yet, this season, he has spent the most time in the field at third base. Clearly, Alviles is an experienced utility man despite only being in the big leagues since 2008. Manager, Terry Francona has said that he wants to try and play Aviles in the outfield. Aviles hasn’t played the outfield since college, but is willing to try.
However, the Red Sox gave up to much in my opinion. According to Alex Speier of WEEI, “A talent evaluator recently suggested that he (Yamaico Navarro) was ready to be an everyday third baseman for a second-division team in need of offense right now.” Navarro is never going to be a Kevin Youkilis or an Scott Rolen, he could end up being similar to Brewers third baseman, Casey McGehee.
Kendal Volz was a ninth-round pick by Boston back in 2009. This season, he was moved to the bullpen and is now pitching in high A ball for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Volz is twenty-four years old and attended Baylor University.
Boston also made two moves just before the deadline. First, Boston traded Minor Leaguers Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers for Trayvon Robinson. The Red Sox then traded Robinson along with Chih-Hsien Chiang to the Seattle Mariners for Erik Bedard and Josh Fields.
The best part about this deal is that Boston didn’t have to give up a whole lot for Robinson, the cornerstone of the deal, who is now the Mariners number four prospect according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Robinson hit twenty-six home runs in a hundred games for the Albuquerque Isotopes (he Dodger’s AAA affiliate), but struck out a whopping 122 times. Robinson also stole eight bases, walked forty-five times, and hit .293 for the Isotopes. In his first game in the Seattle Mariners organization, he went one for three with a stolen base, a run scored, and a walk.
Since Clay Buchholz is most likely out for the season (even though Terry Francona says there is a chance he could start before the season is over) with a stress fracture in his back, Bedard if healthy, should be able to fill Buchholz’s role with no problems. However, Bedard has an injury history of his own, but if the Red Sox were scared of by Rich Harden, than Bedard must be healthy. Bedard, is a lefty who was A.L. East experience when he pitched with the Baltimore Orioles from 2002-2007.
Since it appears he is healthy, the only reason Bedard should struggle is his dislike of well, attention. According to Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald, “Bedard doesn’t like the media. He doesn’t like crowds. He doesn’t like attention. He doesn’t like day games. Some people wonder if he even likes baseball.” You can read the rest of the article here and after reading that article, Bedard seems like a jerk in my mind.
Anyway though, this season, Bedard is four and seven and an ERA of 3.45. Yet, if you take out his horrible start on July 29 against the Tampa Bay Rays when he gave up five earned runs in 1.1 innings, Bedard’s ERA is 3.00. The bad news though, is that that was Bedard’s first start off the D.L. and his last in a Mariners uniform.
The other player Boston acquired from Seattle is twenty-five year old reliever named Josh Fields (not to be confused with Josh Fields, a former White Sox and Royal who recently signed with the Yomiuri Giants). Fields was the twentieth overall pick by the Mariners in the 2008 MLB draft. Fields has split time between AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma. In thirty-nine innings, Fields is one and two with a 3.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.54. In a few years, it’s very possible that Fields could be the best player Boston got in this trade.
Yet, personally, I think Boston will regret both trades. Navarro should become a starting third baseman somewhere in the majors and Boston should have just held on the Robinson. As for Bedard, it’s a toss up on how he will pan out in Beantown.
*Also thanks to everyone for making Soxoholics the twenty-eighth most visited fan blog during the moth of July.