Josh Beckett: How Good Will He Be in 2011?

Issue: In 2010 Josh Beckett’s performance was Good, Bad, and Ugly. Which ones will show up in 2011?

Facts: Good, Bad, Ugly

GOOD

There were items that stand out below his ugly surface stats in 2010. Josh’s strikeout rate remains strong at better than 8K/9. His line drive rate ticked down from 20% to 19%. Hitters’ slugging and OPS were below the league averages. His .341 Batting Average on balls in play versus the .298 league average means he was unlucky as well. Injuries left the Bosox defense in shambles in 2010, especially in the outfield and at shortstop. Everyone appears healthy now, plus the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, so the defense behind Josh will be much improved in 2011.

BAD

His 3 year trend in BB% is 4.7 – 6.2 – 7.87. Beckett spent 65 days on the DL with lower back strain between May and July. His fly ball rate increased from 31.7% to 35.3%. His fastball slowed just a bit, but is still good. His average fastball speed for the last 4 seasons is 93.5, 94.3, 94.3, 94.6.

UGLY

He lost confidence in his heater last season. His fastball use the last 4 season it is 55.2%, 66.9%, 63.1%, and 69.0%. He also had less horizontal movement on most of his pitches. He went from pounding the strike zone high and away to working mostly low and outside, but with less movement away from or into the batter.

Career Highest – BA Against (.292), while the league average was .264. ERA was 5.78.

Career Lowest – First pitch strikes (62%); Innings Pitched 127.2.

He has injured 12 different body parts over his career, including Hand (8), Low Back (5), Elbow (2), Trunk (2), and once each – Fingers, Head, Upper Back, Shoulder, Neck, Groin, Foot, and General Medical.

Analysis: Injuries have most likely caused Beckett’s Jekyll and Hyde performances every other season. All pitchers are healthy…until not. How good will Beckett be considering how bad he was in 2010? Gazing into this season 4 things out stick in our mind: (A) Beckett’s bulldog determination; (B) he has displayed some strong Base Performance Indicators even when his surface stats have been ugly; (C) the abrupt change in the frequency of use and movement of his fastball; and (D) those injuries every other season.

If we condense Josh Beckett’s career into a single season’s worth of stats we would get a 162 Game Score season of 15-10, 3.96 ERA, 210 IP, 8.5K/9, 199K, 65BB, 3.07 K/BB, and 1.244 WHIP. We feel strongly that Josh will do better than that, despite real injury risk. Depending on how many others in your auction feel the same way and the timing of his nomination, Beckett represents an opportunity to grab a starter for $14 or less with the likelihood of earning $20 to $25. This is how pennants are won in auction leagues. The risk is in line with the reward, so long as you don’t spend over $14, before any auction inflation.

Prediction: 19-6, 3.66 ERA, 212 IP, 8.4K/9, 201K, 55BB, 54BB, 3.62 K/BB, and 1.18 WHIP.

{6-4-3 Assists to TexasLeaguers and Baseball-Reference.}

Author: James Morgan

Albert Einstein is credited with defining 'insanity' as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

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