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
Unlike Hiroki Kuroda (Another starting pitcher that the Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in), Jimenez’s contract could last anywhere from 2012 to 2014. You see, Jimenez has team options for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, with one million-dollar buyouts both seasons. His salary for the 2013 season could be increased from $5.75 million-dollars depending on Cy Young results. In 2014, his salary would be eight million-dollars, but unlike the 2013 season, the “Cy Young bonus” could be voided if Jimenez is traded.
It has been reported that there are four main players in the Ubaldo Jimenez sweepstakes. One of those teams, is the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are supposedly the furthest along as they have already talked prospects. The Rockies are reportedly interested in starting pitchers Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Travis Wood, all have major league experience. Another player the Reds are looking at is twenty-four year old, Yonder Alonso.
With Joey Votto locked up until 2013, the Reds decided to move Alonso to left-field. When the Reds traded Jonny Gomes to the Nationals the other day, they made it clear, at least to me, that Alonso is untouchable. Mild-infielder Billy Hamilton and catcher Devin Mesoraco are also supposedly untouchable.
According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, Mesoraco is the Reds number one prospect, followed by Alonso and Hamilton. Also, according to Mayo, Mesoraco is the second best catching prospect, Alonso is the third best prospect at first-base, and Hamilton is the second best prospect at second-base. But, with the Reds now 6.5 games behind the Brewers in an already crowed National League Central, this deal might be more focused on the future than the present.
Another team that has interest in Jimenez is the Detroit Tigers. Yet, it doesn’t look like that they are willing to trade starters Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello. The Rockies have inquired about both players. It looks like Detroit is more likely to go after someone like Erik Bedard or Jeremy Guthrie.
The third team looking at Jimenez, is none other than the New York Yankees. The Yankees have the first, fourth, and sixth rated catching prospects in Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez, and Austin Romine. Therefore, it makes since to trade one of them.
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reports that the Yankees won’t trade Manny Banuelos (the fourth rated left-handed pitching prospect in MLB according to Mayo), Dellin Betances (the eighth rated right-handed pitching prospect in MLB, also according to Mayo), and rookie Ivan Nova, who was recently sent down to AAA, but had an eight and four record in sixteen games started up in the big leagues. Unless the Yankees part with a pitcher, Jimenez won’t be wearing pinstripes.
The last major player for Ubaldo Jimenez are none other than the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately for Boston, it doesn’t look like Clay Buchholz will be back soon. Yet, Boston is more likely to trade for a rental player, as their first four starting pitchers for next year are set (Beckett, Buchholz, Lackey, and Lester) and Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, and Tim Wakefield (Unless he retires) will battle for the fifth spot until Dice-K returns. A Major League executive said that the Red Sox are most likely to trade for Kuroda followed by Guthrie and Bedard.
According to ESPN Boston.com, “Boston Red Sox more likely to make small deadline deal than blockbuster.” Shortstop, right field, and a lefty reliever are all desires. A starting pitcher though, is a necessity. Even when Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester come back, either Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, or Kyle Weiland will still be in the rotation. Wakefield has a WHIP of 1.33, Aceves is more valuable in the bullpen, Miller is averaging a walk every 0.71 innings, and Weiland is just a rookie.
Kuroda on the other hand, has a record of 6-11 (which isn’t his fault as the Dodgers have averaged just 2.18 runs per game in his starts), an ERA of 3.13, a WHIP of 1.20, averages a walk every 0.25 innings, and made his professional debut in 1997 as a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan’s Central League. Kuroda has been pitching in MLB with the Dodgers since 2008. Kuroda like Jose Reyes and Ryan Ludwick has an expiring contract and is due about $4 million for the rest of the season.
One thing to take into consideration is that Kuroda has a complete no-trade clause in his contract. However, according to reports, Dodger management has contacted Kuroda about waiving his no-trade clause. Yet, Kuroda hasn’t given the Dodgers a list of teams that he’ll accept a trade to and each day it starts to look less and less likely that Kuroda will waive his no-trade clause. One last thing to note on his no-trade clause is, that there is a rumor the Kuroda won’t accept a trade to an east coast team.
Kuroda has mixed postseason numbers. In 2008, he went 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings. Yet, in 2009 in a start against the Phillies, he gave up six hits and six earned runs in just 1.1 innings pitched. Despite his horrible start back in 2009, there is no reason that Kuroda shouldn’t be able to pitch in the 2011 postseason like he did in the 2008 one.
With the Dodgers’ current financial state (for starters, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, and Andruw Jones are owed a combined $15,033,333 at the season’s start), they might try to trade every player they can in order to dump salary, as owner Frank McCourt has barely met payroll according to reports. Kuroda is the second highest paid player on the Dodgers behind Rafael Furcal, the only players in eight figures.
Depending on the availability of Ubaldo Jimenez, Kuroda is probably the best starting pitcher on the market. Kuroda is also one of the most likely players to be traded to the Red Sox. The Indians, Tigers, and Yankees are also looking at Kuroda just to name a few teams.