Saturday, January 5, 2008
2008 Red Sox Pitching Projections - Starters
So I just got my hands on a copy of the Bill James Handbook. It's become an annual tradition for me to view the information in it. Others might find it boring, but for me it provides some interesting food for thought when I'm in desperate need for baseball. I'm going to be discussing a lot of information in the book over the next few weeks. To begin the discussion I thought I'd look at the projections for the Red Sox starting pitchers. Here are the projections, coupled with my thoughts.
Josh Beckett - 3.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP (203 IP, 184 H, 64 BB, 187 SO)
I was a little surprised to see such a high ERA projection, even though 2007 was a career year for Beckett. Since his rookie season, Beckett's posted an ERA on the lower side of 3.50 most of the time. Other than Beckett's atypical 2006 season, Beckett's BB/9 IP has gone down every year, yet the projection expects it to go back up in 2008.
I can understand why the projection is so high, as projections must give weight to Beckett's 2006 season. But most indications point to 2006 being an off year and 2007 being an indicator of improving ability at the major league level as he enters the prime ages of most pitchers' careers.
Daisuke Matsuzaka - 3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (193 IP, 173 H, 64 BB, 184 SO)
I was surprised by these numbers too, but this time because of how low they were. But I can understand why the projection would like Daisuke so much. These numbers are similar to the ones he posted before he wore down late in the season. Matsuzaka had an ERA of 3.84 and a WHIP of 1.24 in the first half of 2007. Daisuke's ERA was as low as 3.59 on August 10th. You also have to consider that 2007 was Matsuzaka's rookie season.
Curt Schilling - 3.54 ERA, 1.16 WHIP (160 IP, 161 H, 25 BB, 150 SO)
I was quite surprised by this projection as well. Schilling hasn't posted a year like this since 2004, and he's not getting any younger. It's not that Schilling didn't have a very good year in 2007 (3.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP). But why is his 2008 expected to be such an improvement? His projection seems to think there will be drastic drops in his hits rate and a drastic improvement in his strike out rate.
Tim Wakefield - 4.03 ERA, 1.31 WHIP (181 IP, 174 H, 63 BB, 123 SO)
Wakefield is up and down year to year but it's been a while since he's put up some numbers like these. Either the Bill James Handbook thinks Wakefield the fountain of youth, or they just assume every pitcher over 40 uses performance enhancers.
Jon Lester - 4.42 ERA, 1.55 WHIP (175 IP, 183 H, 89 BB, 149 SO)
It's easy to get excited about Lester given his raw stuff, but this is probably a fair projection for 2008. The numbers aren't great but they're about league average for a starter.
Although Buchholz figures to play a large role in the Red Sox rotation, the Bill James Handbook could not project his statistics based on such a small major league sample size.