Posts Tagged ‘Josh Beckett’

We Want A Pitcher…

Pitching might win championships somewhere, but not in fantasy baseball.

Pitching is less valuable than hitting in fantasy baseball.  It’s just unpredictable.  It’s why hitters are always ranked so much higher than pitchers.  Take Zack Greinke, for example.  He was the best pitcher in the American League last year and arguably the best pitcher in baseball.  Nearly 200 pitchers have a win this year.  Greinke is not among them.

At least Greinke has a decent ERA, WHIP and strikeout total.  Many pitchers who were supposed to have successful years have struggled thus far.

Verlander is a notoriously slow starter. His owners (I'm one of them) hope that this trend does not last all season.

Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Rich Harden, Jon Lester, Javier Vazquez, Cole Hamels and Chad Billingsley all have ERAs of 5+.  These “aces” and high round draft picks/auction budget-eaters have become category killers.  These were guys counted on by teams early on to stabilize pitching staffs.  It’s likely that some of these guys will turn it around.  Even so, at least a couple will not.  Age, unknown injuries and league switches are all potential reasons for pitchers falling off, but sometimes there are no reasons.  The art of pitching is mysterious.

The successful fantasy owner will get value hitting when he can, because pitching value is available on the waiver wire every year.  Justin Duchscherer, Dallas Braden, Fausto Carmona, Mike Pelfrey, Brad Penny, Carlos Silva and Doug Fister have all likely been on your waiver wire at some point this year or are on it now.  Sure, some of these players will not maintain the numbers they currently have all year (I’d bet Silva’s ERA goes above 2.00 at some point), but many will become quality fantasy starters that are far better than anyone you took in your draft/auction.

Pitching fluctuates year to year.  Rarely does it fluctuate at such a fixed rate as Josh Beckett, but no matter how good a pitcher is one year, he has a chance of being truly awful the next.  The same is not as true as a hitter.  Thus, when you have an option between a great pitcher and a great hitter, take the hitter every time.

Because tomorrow, your great hitter will likely be a great hitter.

And tomorrow, your great pitcher might implode.

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Josh Beckett is the Bearded Lady. What are you, one of the freaks?

Josh Beckett is fantastic pitcher. Despite my distaste for him for beating the Yankees not once, but twice in the postseason, I can readily acknowledge that he’s a fantastically talented pitcher. Every other year.

You see, since Beckett has arrived in the majors, he’s been downright dominant in years that end in an odd number (such as 2003 and 2007). In fact, every year that ends in an odd number has been an improvement for him over the previous year. It’s a very strange yet proven trend at this point, considering he’s been in the league since his 1.50 ERA debut in 2001.

There are two sides to every Schwartz, and the even years are the down side. Yogurt got the upside.

I see your Schwartz is as big as mine. Let's see if you know how to...use it

Every even-numbered year of Beckett’s career has been a statistical downgrade over the previous year. Some years this isn’t very dramatic, like from 2003 to 2004, when his ERA jumped from a fantastic 3.04 to a less-great but still good 3.79.

Other years though, he’s more Colonel Sanders than Dark Helmet (yes, I have enough of these stored in my memory to continue all post like this). From 2005 to 2006, his ERA jumped from 3.38 to 5.01, and from 2006 to 2007 it rose from 3.27 to an average 4.03.

Why am I telling you all this? Well this year just so happens to end in an even number, and batters are once again hitting Beckett’s pitches at ludicrous speeds.

We can't stop, we have to slow down first!

After getting blown up for eight runs in three innings by the Blue Jays, Beckett’s ERA sits at a comfy plateau of 7.22 with a deliciously high WHIP of 1.74. In other words, atrocious.

Now, if you’re a proud owner of Beckett you’re probably clamoring in fear and have plans to lock yourself in a limo and eat yourself to death. Well, you should. Although this phenomenon is completely inexplicable and makes no sense, it is very real and pretty unavoidable. As Beckett ages and his skills decline, I can only imagine his odd years will be halfway decent and his even years he’ll have lost the bleeps, the sweeps and the creeps.

There’s not much else you can do but just hold on for dear life, and smoke if you got ’em.

Struggles in Grayland and RS Nation

There are two kinds of slumping in fantasy baseball.  One is the kind Ethan is experiencing: fluctuation. An example would be a team hitting around .200 without power. Basically fluctuation just says your team is reeking of sweaty gym socks for a certain period of time and there is a clear correlation between poor numbers and a lack of fantasy points.  The other kind of struggling is a result of strategic weakness. There is no such correlation in the strategy slumps.  Over the last few days, my team has slowly been losing points and has slid from 1st place to 4th.  I now trail the surprisingly respectable Jabula by 4.5 points.  I’ve maxed out my points in homers and RBIs and have respectable numbers in runs and average.  This means hitting will rarely help me gain points, because I already have them.  So despite a day when my team hit over .300 with respectable power numbers, I lost points due to weak pitching and continued sloth-like performances on the basepaths. My strategic flaw was trying to specialize in a few categories to ensure domination rather than aiming to merely compete in every category.

Pitching has also become a huge weakness of the Providence Grays. The pitching deficiency falls more into the fluctuation category.  Wheels are churning on several trade possibilities.  I have less than 5 points in ERA, WHIP and wins.  I will probably lose another point or two in saves before all is said and done as well.

With Ellsbury's speed, points in steals should be coming...

Some of these problems will be self-correcting as the season continues by the law of averages and the law of human bodies recovering.  I only have 4 points in steals, but assuming Jacoby Ellsbury returns in anything resembling a timely manner, I should stand to gain 3 to 4 additional points in steals.  Also, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Justin Verlander are unlikely candidates to retain ERAs of 5+ and WHIPs of 1.50+.   That being said, movement is needed to ensure upwards movement in pitching categories before it becomes too late.  

With players like Ellsbury, Beckett and Lackey expected to improve (see Lackey’s start tonight), the fate of the Red Sox (this writer’s favorite baseball team) and the Providence Grays are intertwined this year.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What better feeling is there than when two great things intersect?  The success of both your real-life and fantasy baseball teams is up there with the great combos of all time: Russell and Cousy on the same basketball court, peanut butter and jelly on the same sandwich, Collin and Ethan on the same blog.

Some things just can’t be topped.


Pitchers can only be this bad for so long. This video fails to show the rest of the whiffleball season, after the pitcher learns a nasty slider that starts out 6 feet behind the batter and crosses the plate the moment the child hitting falls to the ground, weeping in fear of ball on bone collision.