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OK, maybe Sox fans shouldn’t worry that much about Josh Beckett after all

Jan 14, 2011, 11:30 AM EDT


Yesterday I linked John Tomase’s dire warning about what the future may hold for Josh Beckett.  Today Bill at The Platoon Advantage picks Tomase’s analysis apart. Setting aside the notion that Tomase could have used more refined metrics with which to analyze Beckett, Bill observes that Tomase unwittingly stacked the deck against him:

Even assuming plain old unadjusted ERA is the way to go, though, Tomase went about it all wrong.  His cutoffs were 125 IP, 5.75 ERA, and age 30-39; Beckett had a 5.78 ERA, 127.2 IP and was 30 years old. By creating a set with lower limits at almost exactly Beckett’s numbers and with no upper limit, you’re capturing only a few who are Beckett’s age, almost none who were as good as Beckett and many who were much, much worse and/or much, much older.  What happened to Jack Morris at age 39, David Cone at 38 and Dave Stewart at 38 — and those three guys are actually mentioned in Tomase’s article — has absolutely no bearing at all on what’s going to happen to Beckett at age 31, even if their previous seasons’ numbers were superficially similar.

Unless you’re really happy with the notion that Beckett is going to crash and burn next year, you should read Bill’s entire analysis.

And remember, kids: stats are dangerous things, so be careful with them. With my family history and tendencies for abuse, I never touch the stuff.

  1. Jonny 5 - Jan 14, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    “And remember, kids: stats are dangerous things, ( nothing can predict the future) so be careful with them. With my family history and tendencies for abuse, I never touch the stuff.” ( Oh you lie)

    If indeed fatter guys can pitch better as I’ve heard. JB is headed in the right direction.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      30 days until Aces and Chooch!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        Ut, Is this the most highly anticipated season you’ve ever seen as well? I can’t wait. I’m like a giddy school boy waiting for the promised roll in the hay from his GF.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        It’s as highly anticipated as I can remember in the 25+ish years I’ve been paying any attention whatsoever.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:22 PM

        By the way, aren’t Ryno and JRoll on MLB Network with Bob Costas tonight?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        Jonny, I haven’t been this excited since the start of the 2010 playoffs. I have learned to temper my enthusiasm after the Epic Fail that was the Phillies 2010 Playoffs…but I still have to say that if the Philadelphia Phillies do not win the 2011 World Series, then the season will be another Epic Fail. Anyone who thinks any differently is insane.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        Chris, you are such a killjoy. I’m gonna take my ball and go home…

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM

        I had no idea about these guys being on MLBN, thanks for the heads up Ut.

        Chris, Ha ha!!! Well, all I have to say is they must score runs to win anything.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        I will say that Thome’s arrival was rather anticipated as well. We all know how that worked out.

  2. Jack Marshall - Jan 14, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    The interesting thing was that almost all of the commenters on Tomase’s piece flagged the flaws immediately.

    JB, by the way, is NOT fat, not even a little bit.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:45 PM

      Ok, you win……


      • Jonny 5 - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:47 PM

  3. bigharold - Jan 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    As was popularized by Twain; there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

    Actually, the Nation still needs to worry about Beckett. After Lester and Buckholz the RS rotation isn’t anything to write home about.

    The Nations annual proclamation aside about having the best pitching in baseball, they need to worry about Beckett, and Lackey and Matsuzaka.

    Should be a fun year.

  4. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Statistics don’t lie, sportwriters lie.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      Statistics don’t lie. But they can be twisted and misused.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    They should have analyzed the stats for pitchers who chirp at Kenny Lofton for walking on Ball 4. Oh wait, that was only Beckett. Never mind.

  6. BC - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I think what you saw last year from Beckett is only going to marginally improve this year. I still don’t think he’s physically right, either that or all of the injuries have screwed his mechanics into the ground.

  7. ja4ed - Jan 14, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    If you change Tomase’s play index search to include Beckett’s 2010 K/9 and BB/9 instead of his ERA, the results are littered with current and future Hall of Famers

  8. xmatt0926x - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    I prefer the original analysis showing that this guy is going to stay bad. Why? Because me no like Beckett!! Fire bad!!! Beckett bad!!! He’s a bloated punk constantly staring down opponents he strikes out and smirking whewnever someone dares to get a hit off him. He was a punk as a Marlin and he’s a punk now. Have another case of beer Josh..

  9. thinman61 - Jan 14, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    From the linked analysis at The Platoon Advantage:

    “More to the point (and this gets back to the FIP stuff, but without using FIP), his peripherals don’t give any real cause for worry. His strikeout rate last year of 8.18 per nine innings was low for him, but well within a reasonable range of his 8.51 career average. His walks were up a bit — 3.17, career 2.77 — but again, nothing worth getting all worked up over. His average fastball was down less than a mile an hour (94.3 to 93.5), but that fluctuates, too (it was 93.5 back in 2005 as well). Everything is pretty close to where it’s always been, and there’s no reason Beckett can’t snap back to normal levels (or better) for 2011. The guys up there whose careers did kind of fall apart all had bigger drops than Beckett in their peripheral numbers.”

  10. frankvzappa - Jan 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    i wish you saying translated into me thinking it, but the facts are that JB is just a huge Texan who used to be able to throw a rock really hard…now that he is a bit older with a few injuries under his belt, he simply cant do it anymore…and he cant resort to the stuff and control that will make guys like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee age like fine wine…Beckett is done, he may find himself as an ok 4th starter at best, and lets hope so for the Sox’ sake…also for the Sox’ sake, lets hope Theo doesnt trot him out there again on Day 1…

  11. fjm2358 - Jan 14, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Bill’s criticism of Thomase’s study is valid. But it appllies to his own study as well. If you look at the 90 pitchers he generated you will notice that Josh Beckett ranks 60th in terms of WAR with -1.0. 24 of the 90 managed to generate a positive WAR despite the high ERA. In contrast, only 5 of them were -2.0 or worse. So whereas the original study was biased towards pitchers worse than JB, his is biased in the opposite direction. To fix the problem, start with his list but then select only those pitchers who fall within a narrow range of JB in terms of WAR, say -0.6 to -1.4. That would leave 34 pitchers, 18 of whom had a better year than Beckett.

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