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Monday, June 25, 2007

A look at Beckett's Great Game

Today's column is about Josh Beckett and yesterday's pitching performance. A decent column, a few interesting quotes, and the highlights of the game.

Dan has a tendency to suffer from the same ills that he claims Boston fans to suffer from. He scolds fans not to worship professional athletes, but needs to be reminded that "Tom Brady is human". Today, Dan suffers from that lack of perspective that he charges Boston fans with. Dan promotes Beckett to start the All-Star Game ignoring Justin Verlander, Dan Haren, and Johan Santana; all who have a lower ERA and lower adjusted ERA. Beckett does have the lower DIPS ERA, but I doubt Dan was looking at that page on espn.com.

23 comments:

mouse said...

What bugs me is that even in a mostly positive column, Shank still has to get in his shots about Schilling's blog and Matsuzaka's cache of Japanese reporters. The way he wrote it in was moderately funny, I guess, but just once it would be nice if he could get past his usual hangups. Guess that's too much to ask.

It's also typical that Shank says nothing about he was the first to call for Beckett's head last year. No admission of being wrong or jumping the gun about that.

ObjectiveBruce said...

Last time I checked, the game was about winning. Leading the majors in wins while pitching for the team with the best record in the bigs seems a better credential than contrived stats.

mike_b1 said...

Bruce, you are manic-depressive, right? You must be.

How else can you repeatedly defend a guy who wrote a love letter to Beckett upon his trade, ridiculed him throughout the 2006 season, and now is riding high in his reflected glory? He flip-flops more than McCain and Romney combined. He is a frontrunner to the extreme. His work has no redeeming value, save for litterbox liner.

paul said...

"Last time I checked, the game was about winning. Leading the majors in wins while pitching for the team
with the best record in the bigs seems a better credential than contrived stats."

ERA is a contrived stat? I think you're the first person I've ever encountered who's said that.
Oh yeah, that's right I don't meet many people because I'm locked in my mom's basement...I forgot.

Wins and losses are kind of a crap stat. Would you rather have a starting pitcher who has a 2-5 record but a 2.75 ERA or a guy with a 9-2 record but a 4.95 ERA? Wins and losses are a product of pitching match-ups and offense. I'd take the lower ERA guy because on most nights, he's going to give you a better chance to win.

Anonymous said...

Bruce, i never thought that you were one of those non-sabermatricians with all the stats that you break out to support your arguments.

Anyway here's the lineup for Verlander, Santana and Beckett. All three pitchers I would gladly take on my team as an ace by the way. The only stats I'm using are record, HRs, hits, ERA, and K's

Beckett:
11-1, 76 H, 5 HR, 3.07 ERA, 79 K

Santana:

8-6, 86 H, 15HR, 2.86 ERA, 114 K

Verlander:

9-2, 76 H, 8 HR, 2.78 ERA, 85 K

Bruce, are you using "Wins" as a tie-breaker stat or are you using it as the end-all be-all judgement?

I would say that "wins" is a good tie-breaker to decide who the best pitcher of these three are but not the only stat that you should use. And there is nothing contrived about these stats.

I would also say that if you put Verlander, Santana, or even Dan Haren (whose stats i did not provide) in a Red Sox uniform this year, they would have similar Win-Loss records to Becket. As anyone with any type of understanding of Baseball should know, "Wins" for a pitcher depend far more on the overall performance of the team than on just the pitcher's effort. You need good hitting, fielding, running and bullpen help to win a game.

Anonymous said...

Continued from last post

Dan Haren:

9-2, 74 H, 9 HR, 1.78 ERA, 89 K


There's your all-star starter. And why are we arguing over who is going to be the starter of an exhibition game when it will be forgotten literally two days afterward?

dbvader said...

And all four pitchers mentioned have thrown more innings than Beckett. They have done more to help their teams win than Beckett. Beckett's run support is a full run more than any of the four.

Juli La Chuli said...

Aren't stats by nature not contrived? They actually exist and then humans eventually come to discover their inherently solid and inviolable nature. Kind of like, the distance between the planets at any given moment, how fast a bag of shit will fall when it's not supported by anything, or how much of the union pie the largest slugs will gobble up the moment the ink is dry on the new contract?

Dubegedi said...

Well I really really desperately hope that OB was being sarcastic with this remark: "Leading the majors in wins while pitching for the team with the best record in the bigs seems a better credential than contrived stats." Are you saying that wins really don't mean anything? I hope that was just a case of written word failing to convey sarcasm.

OB, if you were in all seriousness making that idiotic a statement, I'll just quote FJM to explain why the contrived stat of wins sucks: "if Carl Pavano gives up nineteen runs in five innings but the Yankees score 20 runs, and they hold on to win, and Pavano gets the win, is Pavano a good pitcher? No he is not. If Francisco Liriano throws 9 innings of no-hit ball, but gives up a run on four consecutive errors by Terry Tiffey and gets a loss, is Francisco Liriano a bad pitcher? No he is not. Wins stink to high heaven as a way to value pitchers because they are in very large part dependent on the actions of the other guys on the team."

objectivebruce said...

Wow you people have trouble reading.

The game is about winning. As of the date the column was written, Beckett had won as many games as anyone and his team is the best in baseball. Simple logic would suggest his ability to win games has a lot to do with it. His record simply does not include winning 20-19 slugfests, or losing no-hitters on four consecutive errors by the same fielder.

How about someone tell me that last time a starter won a game 20-19, or the last time a fielder's four consecutive errors cost a pitcher the game after pitching no-hit ball for 9 innings.

Yes there will be cheap wins, and yes there will be undeserved losses. But the game is still about winning and as of the time the column was written, Beckett was the class of the league in that regard.

Stats are a tool. Nothing more. Wins are real.

paul said...

Bruce,

Wins are a stat...You know what? Never mind.

It looks like Shank isn't the only writer at the Globe who hates Red Sox fans.

http://www.boston.com/sports/nesn/wilbur/sports_blog/blog/2007/06/26/station_this_wagon/index.html

Personally, I don't care what color a person's cap is. As long as they're cheering for the same team I am. You don't need a PhD in Sox-ology to be a fan of the Red Sox. Isn't it snobbish to tell people they can't cheer for a team unless they can tell you who Smokey Joe Wood and Stuffy McGinnis are? Or even El Guapo or Tim Naehring?

I'm glad Mr. Wilbur reminded me that people need to earn their right to be a Sox fan. Give me a break...

Anonymous said...

Here's a shorter link to the Wilbur article:

http://tinyurl.com/2kce2o

dbvader said...

Obtuse,
Check out Beckett's game log,Johan Santana's game log, Verlander's game log, and Haren's game log. Santana has a couple of tough luck losses, Verlander has a few no decisions in which he should have gotten the win, and Haren has two losses in which he gave up a combined one ER in 13IP and had three no decision stretch in which he gave up 4 runs, struck out 24 in 21 IP. In two other no decisions he pitched 6.2 and 7.2 innings and 3 and 2 runs, respectively.

I guess all three don't know how to win like Beckett and their records have nothing to do with their lower run support.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God Bruce:

"How about someone tell me that last time a starter won a game 20-19, or the last time a fielder's four consecutive errors cost a pitcher the game after pitching no-hit ball for 9 innings."

Bruce, FJM wasn't being serious that that type of event had happened. It was what is called an "obvious example". I really hope you were being sarcastic.

Why won't you at least concede the part that a pitcher's wins have at least something to do with the rest of the team.

Is it not true that the only things a pitcher has some control over are Homeruns, strikeouts, and walks? I didn't know that an American League pitcher scored runs for his team in an American League park.

But then again I've been in mom's basement on the computer all these years (never actually looking at real live baseball games), so I must not know what the hell I'm talking about.

Monkeesfan said...

Actually a better analogy is "Shank flipflops more than Kerry and Hillary combined" - because like those two Shank goes into discussions with malicious and inaccurate premises.

Dubegedi said...

Bruce, Wins as in a team record are "real", and they are certainly the best metric to judge a team's success up to a certain point. But for a pitcher, wins is just another stat. A contrived, misleading, overall awful stat. While it would be very difficult for a pitcher to go 11-1 while sucking, the record of a pitcher tells very little overall.

A pitcher's job is to prevent the opposing team from scoring runs. By saying that Beckett has the most wins as a pitcher in baseball, pitching for the team with the best record in baseball you actually made an argument that would suggest Beckett is not that valuable as a pitcher since the team simply wins no matter who is pitching. Beckett's win/loss totals are so dependent on his team's offensive performance and fielding that judging him by them is simply insane. I think overall he has been very good, but not the best AL pitcher this season. I wouldn't at all be surprised however, if he ended up as the best pitcher in the AL by the end of season because his DIPS (Walks, K's, HR'S) compared to his actual ERA seem to suggest that thus far he is getting slightly unlucky. I know, I know, I'm looking at those damn contrived stats like WHIP, Era, DIPS ERA, and k/bb rather than a REAL stat like Wins. But those stats actually look at what a pitcher can control (like how many runs the other team scores and how many men he allows to reach base) than what he can't control (like how many runs his offense gives him to work with). Just as guys like Haren shouldn't be punished for low run supports, Beckett shouldn't be overly praised for his great run support.

ObjectiveBruce said...

When it comes to being an all-star pitcher, or deserving to start an all-star game, wins as opposed to losses are what counts.

A pitcher certainly does control more than strikeouts, hits and walks. He controls, to an extent, how the ball is put into play. He can control a hitter's ability to bunt successfully. He is responsible for making sure runners don't get too much of a jump. And sometimes athletes need to rise to an occasion in order to win.

Overall wins by a starting pitcher is a simple statistic, accurate in identifying pitchers who do what they are supposed to do -- win baseball games. No other contrived statistic comes close to telling us who is doing what a starter is supposed to do, go long enough and well enough in a game to put his team in a winning position. Good hitting helps, good defense helps, a good bullpen helps. But then I also believe baseball is pitching and three-run homers.

Don't fall into the "more days in first place" trap.

Anonymous said...

What about this pitcher from 1987?:

ERA 2.76 (Led League)
ERA+ 142

His Win/Loss record was 8-16.

I don't think his team helped him much with run support.

Poor old Nolan Ryan.

dbvader said...

How about Bob Welch beating out Roger Clemens for the Cy Young? Welch wasn't even the best pitcher on his team.

OB, you are a complete idiot, without a lick of sense. I am done.

Dubegedi said...

Anonn, you are an idiot. A pitcher's job is not to stop the other team from scorring runs. It's to be a winner damnit! His job is to win the game, so if he pitches 8 innings striking out 15 and giving up 1 run on an error, while his offense scores no run and he gets the loss, it's his fault. He was supposed to win, he was supposed to inspire the offense to score more runs and inspire his fielders to field better. Likewise, a pitcher that goes 5 innings and gives up 6 runs and his team goes on to win a slugfest, he is a good pitcher because the team won. He was a winner that day.

Last year Josh Beckett had 16 wins, which tied him for 8th best in the AL. This means he was one of the best pitchers in the AL. Do not listen to idiots that will say "yeah, but he had a ton of run support, he gave up a shit load of home runs, and he had a terrible era." You just scream at him snd say "HE IS A WINNER DAMNIT!" and you will be right because it was Beckett who won those 16 games, regardless of how many runs he gave up or how many runs his offense gave him to work with. A pitcher that gives up 6 runs in a 7-6 win is just as good as one that throws a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win.

ObjectiveBruce said...

I have no problem with someone who wins 24 of 26 decisions from May to September (and 26 of 29 starts) winning the Cy Young award, even if some other starter on the team is adjudged a "better" pitcher under the contrived stats theory. David Stewart, by the way, was 16-10 during the period that Welch was 24-2. Clemens was 16-4. Welch and Stewart played in front of the same defense.

Tell me how your contrived stats overcome eight wins in a pennant race.

A better example of a better pitcher having fewer wins comes from 1967. Joel Horlen should have won the Cy Young that year, not Lonborg. Perhaps there is a stat that would adjust for having Pete Ward rather than George Scott as your cleanup hitter. Or maybe some common sense and understanding of how the game is played is more valuable.

dbvader said...

Or maybe some common sense and understanding of how the game is played is more valuable.

You are the one who cannot comprehend that the pitcher is not responsible for how many runs his team scores. Even Tony Maz is smart enough to understand that wins are overrated.

dbvader said...

Also, OB you rant about contrived stats, which apparently you think ERA is, but every stat is contrived to some degree. Wins are determined by rules that, while not arbitrary, depend on the discretion of MLB. Why do starting pitchers have to pitch only 5 innings for a win? Why do starters get credit for the loss if they leave the game behind but the team goes on to score more runs than he let up without ever taking the lead? How about not tagging a pitcher with a loss if the winning run he gives up is unearned? All these are examples of decisions that make wins 'contrived.' There is no natural definition of wins. (Help me out. What is the latin term I am looking for?)