2008 Projections: Josh Beckett


And you thought Josh Beckett had a great regular season. After contending for a Cy Young and going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, Beckett really clamped down in the playoffs, going a perfect 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 4 postseason starts. His extra velocity and focus was downright intimidating in October. For the record, he’s now 6-2 lifetime in the playoffs, with a 1.73 cumulative ERA and a World Series MVP under his belt. That’s not merely good, it’s almost historically good. A couple more postseasons like that, and Beckett will be named among the best ever.

I thought I’d change it up a bit and project one of our pitchers today. Before you get all excited, keep in mind that pitching stats are among the hardest to predict, because there is very little correlation year-to-year, good pitchers or bad. Let’s take a look inside the numbers a bit, shall we? Beckett’s 2007 was very good compared to the year before for two clear reasons: fewer home runs, and fewer walks. Beckett didn’t resort to the high fastball in the zone when he got into trouble this year, and gained confidence in his plus curve as his main strikeout pitch. He was hesitant to throw the curve before because of the blister issues. I can’t recall how many times I watched knees buckle as people flailed hopelessly at Beckett’s bender. The result? A huge decrease in HR/9 from 1.58 to 0.76, and a lot more Ks per nine (6.95 in 2006, 8.70 in 2007). Mixing pitches and getting the secondary pitches over for early strikes allowed him to minimize the walks this past year, and he posted a career-low 1.79 BB/9 (his career average is around 2.7 BB/9).

One thing is pretty clear, Beckett has learned how to pitch in the AL, and one more year with Jason Varitek behind the plate means continued good things for the 28-year old righty. I expect his ERA and walks to regress a little bit, but I like the strikeout numbers where they are. If he can stay healthy, I see him giving us 200 IP again with an ERA of about 3.80; that means at least 16 wins and about 185 Ks and maybe 60 BB. I don’t know why the projections below are so conservative with wins for Beckett, but he should easily post a WARP1 somewhere in the 6.5-7.5 range.

Projection comps:

Marcels:	15-8	181IP	159K	53BB	3.88ERA
Bill James:	14-8	203IP	187K	64BB	3.50ERA
CHONE:		-	197IP	169K	50BB	3.79ERA
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