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  1. The simple explanation for Beckett’s resurgence: it’s an odd-numbered year.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — April 22, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  2. He’s like Robb Nen’s evil, inverse twin.

    Comment by Brandon — April 22, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  3. His niwt live?

    Comment by Aaron — April 22, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  4. Sometimes I love Fangraphs, and sometimes we get stuff like this, where you miss the forest for the stats.

    Take a look at some pitchfx data.

    Beckett is a different pitcher now. Better or worse, we’ll see when teams get some more footage of how his pitches break, he’s changed his arm slot because of the back and shoulder issues, and its changing how his pitches move.

    His FB breaks more vertically, but less horizontally. His curve is doing the opposite, more horizontal movement than it used to have, but less vertical. His changeup is moving more horizontally.

    He’s a different pitcher.

    Comment by RC — April 22, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  5. Also the GB/FB in 2011 (1.67) is at at an all-time high (1.26 career).

    Comment by kid — April 22, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  6. I remember checking this last year for a post for SOSH. The quality of a Beckett start almost ALWAYS tracks with the strike percentage he gets with his curveball… when he can command it, he’s an ace. When he can’t, he’s a bit worse than league average.

    Comment by Brandon — April 22, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  7. Isn’t that true of all pitchers though? When they can command their offspeed stuff, they’re great. When they can’t, guys sit on the fastball.

    I think the difference is how often they can do it.

    Comment by RC — April 22, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

  8. “Last season, Beckett’s first-pitch strike percentage dropped to 58.4% (his career average is 61.7%). An early return to his career average has enabled Beckett to get ahead of hitters more often this season, contributing to his return to form.”

    That’s a difference of 1 first pitch strike for every 30 batters faced. Do we really think that’s significant or just a little variation around his mean?

    Comment by Jaba — April 22, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  9. The use of the word “return” is just a hair over 1/Paragraph. That’s a solid TR theme rate in line with the title of the article, in line with xTR projections this year

    Comment by Asher — April 22, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  10. Waiting for the “small sample size” lights to flash.

    Comment by lester bangs — April 22, 2011 @ 11:34 pm

  11. a different pitcher indeed. about 25 lbs. heavier. Look at the guy! he’s letting his old fat man genes run wild a little early.

    Comment by Sen-baldacci — April 23, 2011 @ 12:06 am

  12. Any sample size can be meaningful if the effect is large enough.

    In fact, by Game Score total, those were the three best consecutive regular season starts of Beckett’s career. And they were not in the least helped by weak opposition lineup or the like.

    The odds of a guy who has been tremendously inconsistent because of health issues having the three best consecutive starts of his career without being healthier than average are pretty darn slim.

    (Besides, I analyzed the even / odd year pattern this winter at SoSH, concluded it was due to conditioning, and predicted a big year both there and, more recently, here (where I was of course predictably mocked for buying into the “best shape of his life” meme)).

    Comment by Eric M. Van — April 23, 2011 @ 3:42 am

  13. The question is will this be the Beckett we see come September/October?
    In 2008 and 2009 he finished the season either injured or performing poorly. That continued into 2010 befor he hurt his back in May.

    Beckett has pitched great for 3 straight starts against the Yankees w/o A-Rod and a game time start of 45 deg, Blue Jays (w/o 2 regulars) with a game time start at 54 deg, and a pretty questionable Angel lineup in a pitchers park.

    I guess I am skeptical, but he has looked really good for these 3 starts, especially the curveball. Lets see how he does with some warmer weather coming up. Next 3 starts are Orioles, Angels and twins, so no test there. After that there is a start in NY in May.

    Comment by pft — April 23, 2011 @ 3:48 am

  14. It’s not statistically significant but it’s trending strongly in that direction (p = .09).

    I agree that it’s not a big enough difference to account (be causative for) the improvement. It is, however, probably a real symptom of differences in command, which of course are in part responsible.

    Comment by Eric M. Van — April 23, 2011 @ 3:52 am

  15. Okay gang….shutdown the SAS software and step away from the laptop. I too have a math degree and can appreciate p-stats and sample size, but I have a recommendation. WATCH THE GAMES!

    Beckett’s stuff, location and overall outings pass the eye test. The pitcher running out thus far in 2011 is healthy and that absolutely equates to Beckett as an ace starting pitcher.

    Beckett healthy and working in the zone with four plus quality pitches is always going to be extremely difficult to square up. He is going to give up HRs when he gets pitches up and I seriously doubt 2011 concludes with a sub 2.0 ERA and sub 1.0 WHIP, but no SP will have that line.

    Watch the games and you will see that Josh Beckett thru 4 games unquestionably passes the eye test. I don’t need to analyze GB/FB ratios, BABIP or FPS% to see that. Lets wait a few more starts before we try to estimate his 2011 full year stat line.

    Comment by jcashwell — April 23, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  16. My favorite part about Beckett was in 2007 when people were clamoring for him to win the Cy Young based on his good season and his great postseason and seemingly forgot that he sat out June with a little blister. Pretty easy to have a lot in the tank come October if you sat out a month earlier.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — April 23, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  17. Not to jump all over you, but if the only test is where it’s warm weather, against a top lineup, with no regulars sitting, in a hitter’s park, well, then that’s pretty much never gonna happen. You could always find a mitigating factor, but you could also (more easily!) say that he’s pitched against the best lineup in baseball in a hitter’s park, then against another good lineup in a hitter’s park, then in warm weather.

    Thing is, I don’t think he’s pitched in easier conditions than the average pitcher (though I’m certainly open to being proven wrong on that), and he’s performing way better than the average pitcher.

    Comment by Ari Collins — April 23, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

  18. Wrong.

    Comment by Jim — April 23, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  19. It’s a good thing the Cy Young has nothing to do with the postseason, huh.

    Comment by Jim — April 23, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  20. Cy Young voting is done before the playoffs start, so I promise no factored that in with their vote.

    Blisters also are very difficult for pitchers.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — April 23, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  21. Oh, I know the postseason doesn’t factor into voting. But after the award was announced, there were lots of people saying that their performances in the postseason just showed that the voters got it wrong. My point is that Beckett, even at his best, was too highly-thought of, because he never reached the level of elite innings eater like Haren or CC or Doc or what have you.

    Comment by Eric Cioe — April 24, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

  22. Except that’s completely false.

    Beckett missed a total of two starts in May after exiting one game early. He actually put up six starts in June (His most of any month in 2007) and averaged five in every other month but April. Additionally, it was a stiff neck, not blisters.

    Comment by Jonathan — April 24, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  23. Correct, Cashwell, Beckett’s curve is much better and his command of all pitches is far greater, which translates to hitters losing confidence in waiting him out for a fat pitch. When Colon was an ace with Cleveland, against the same team he would pitch a two-hitter in one start and get shellacked in the next (or vica-versa) with the very same stuff, the entire difference being four inches in location.

    Comment by james wilson — April 25, 2011 @ 2:23 am

  24. yeah, seriously. this statement is totally false. his arm slot and motion are still the same. if we are talking about locations of pitches, you are basically saying every pitcher is different on every pitch. makes no sense whatsoever.

    Comment by jaywrong — April 25, 2011 @ 9:08 am

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