beckett_2014-06-27

Oh My God, Josh Beckett Could Be An All-Star

Note: Confused by the new look? Check out the intro here.

A line from Dustin’s recap of last night’s victory really struck me:

Beckett was once again brilliant: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 B, 4 K, 9/3 GO/AO, 107 pitches, 69 strikes. He lowered his ERA to a team-leading 2.11. He should be Minnesota-bound in a couple weeks.

…oh, my. He’s right, isn’t he? Josh Beckett, seemingly unwanted throw-in to the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is really going to make the All-Star team, isn’t he? Now, you know that I don’t usually care about the All-Star selections, and I especially dislike that it counts towards anything. If the fans want to honor Derek Jeter one last time before he goes, that’s absolutely how it should be, but no one would argue that Jeter is the best shortstop the American League could field in a game they’re trying to win. So usually I ignore the whole thing, except for the fact that Beckett, 34 years old, and coming off both major surgery and two terrible seasons in his last four, could actually make it — despite pretty much all of us agreeing that he’s the fourth-best Dodger starter.

So a situation like that demands that I look into it. Is this really possible? As usual, this requires us to understand the difference between “should” and “could.” It’s true that Beckett has the fourth-best ERA in baseball right now, behind only Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, and Masahiro Tanaka. But, as I hardly need to tell you, ERA doesn’t make the pitcher, and it’s not a coincidence that he doesn’t stand up to the other guys in the top five, including Felix Hernandez, in any other way. None of them have a FIP above 2.91 — Hernandez’ is 1.95! — while Beckett’s is 3.77. They’ve all  been worth at least 2.6 WAR. Beckett is at 0.8.

Now my goal here isn’t really to tear Beckett down, because he’s been a revelation, using his curveball to offset a declining fastball, and he’s been better than anyone could have possibly hoped. He very well may be the NL Comeback Player of the Year. But still, an All-Star? Really? Let’s investigate.

There’s usually 13 pitchers on an All-Star team, and that usually turns into 15 or so due to guys nursing injuries or who pitch on the final day before the break and won’t be available. Last year, 10 of the NL pitchers were starters. The year before, eight. In 2011, nine.

90topps_joshbeckettSo let’s say nine, for now, and there’s three obvious, no-doubt locks among NL starting pitchers: Cueto, Wainwright, and Stephen Strasburg. I’m going to throw Clayton Kershaw in there as well; the only thing holding him back from the leaderboards is a lack of innings pitched, which will be resolved in a week or two, and the no-hitter and trophy case resume should make it an easy call for NL manager Mike Matheny to want him on the team. Jeff Samardzija is absolutely worthy as well, and we’ll tentatively include him, pending the possibility of a trade that would send him out of the National League first.

That’s five, but remember, you get into roster games with the “every team must have a representative” rule, and with Yasiel Puig likely a starter and Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke possible additions as well, the Dodgers may not be able to send five or six guys. But even if Beckett somehow does beat out Greinke, will Matheny prefer him to Tim Hudson in terms of older former stars who have had great seasons? Is a 2-4 record enough to keep Cole Hamels out for the Phillies? What about Jordan Zimmermann, having nearly as good a season as Strasburg, or Madison Bumgarner? Will Matheny be able to overlook the fact that Kyle Lohse may be 10-2 in a few days? You know I don’t care about win/loss record or ERA, but I bet managers do.

Beckett is helped by the fact that Jose Fernandez and is injured, and that Giancarlo Stanton is such an obvious choice that they won’t need to shoehorn another Marlin on. But with Matt Harvey hurt and David Wright having a subpar season — the latest balloting had him second to Aramis Ramirez — the Mets may need to get Bartolo Colon or Zack Wheeler or Jon Niese forced onto the squad, unless you really like Daniel Murphy.

Obviously, there’s a lot that’s going to go into this, and it’s not all just about performance, based on how the roster shakes out. Maybe the regression we all fear is coming happens in his next start, and suddenly that ERA is 3.20 and doesn’t look as shiny and this isn’t a conversation. Honestly, whether he makes it or not isn’t the issue. It’s that we’re talking about it like it’s a very real thing that can happen. I think that alone tells you all you need to know about how unbelievable Beckett has been, to the point where I find his performance almost as surprising as Gordon’s.

So if we’re going to put odds on whether Beckett joins the NL in Minnesota in July:

61.4%

There’s not a lot of math involved in that, of course. I just wanted to use a fun new toy.

 


About

Mike wrote daily for over six long years (2007-13) about the Dodgers at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, which was named 2011′s “Best Sports Blog” by LA Weekly. He can currently be found writing multiple times per week at FanGraphs and ESPN, has been a producer and editor for Sports on Earth, and built The Hardball Times. He lives in New York City and will probably be asleep or on vacation when awesome things happen.


671 comments
Puig Power
Puig Power

Am I the only one that enjoys the All-Star game?  It seems like those of us that are baseball bloggers and are deeply involved in the game tend to not only dislike the ASG, but abhor it as a waste of time among other things.  Honestly, I think you all need to learn to enjoy it, because it's not going anywhere and, by God, it's FUN.  

scottyc35
scottyc35

I'm trying to update my profile so there's a pic attached to my name. I want to say again to you guys how much I love this blog. I was a longtime reader of MSTI, as well as Jon Weisman's "Dodger Thoughts", but we got it all on one page now. You guys are doing a great job, I read every post. That *sshole Bumgarner is pitching for the Giants tonight, so we may not be able to pick up a game, but Ryu will at least keep is on pace. It's time to start winning every series. Last night was huge

scottyc35
scottyc35

of course i have to comment, if only to share my enthusiasm. watching him pitch this season, i don't think this is a fluke, and although he may have "nowhere to go but down", i don't think he's gonna go very far down. This is a completely different player than the guy who pitched for the Marlins. he's totally re-invented his approach. that was the only chance St. Louis had to get any momentum to win this series, and Beckett held his own against their ace. the next 3 games should be ours. 

KMT59
KMT59

You guys know I can actually get my son into the game for free but I wouldn't want him to sit in my daughters or my lap

Dang88
Dang88

Vinny got a little excited about that Kemp throw haha

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

that gif reminds Drank that it has to dispose of urine. brb.

Unemployed Ronald Belisario
Unemployed Ronald Belisario

Today I learned that Dustin has yet to be shot while living in Stockton. That's a hell of an accomplishment. 

PagansOedipalComplex
PagansOedipalComplex

My favorite part of the new getup is being able to zoom into Josh Beckett's face dramatically by mousing over the article

DBrim
DBrim moderator

PROGRESS BAR

scottyc35
scottyc35

my six-year old nephew is staying with me for the summer. His dad is a Tigers' fan, but his Dad does not have mlb.tv. The kid is learning a lot. Now, when the Dodgers play at 7pm, he will take a big afternoon nap so he can stay up to see the end of the game. A couple days ago, he was out playing ball by himself in the yard, and he wasn't pretending to be Miguel Cabrera. He was pretending he was Puig. You can imagine how proud I was. He's gonna be a Dodger lifer by the time the season is over! I love it! 

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler moderator

Ha, like I'm actually going to READ it. #notascout

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler moderator

@JackedNate If there's a team other than the Dodgers that doesn't need anymore outfielders, it's the Pirates.

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Barely convinced that Cannon is a real person at this point

Superba
Superba

@KMT59 Kemp was really excited.  Did a little dance.   I thought he might break out the portable bubble machine.


For a moment at least, he was quite happy to be in LF. 

scottyc35
scottyc35

although trying to explain a balk, by a right-handed pitcher throwing to 3rd base no less = Whew! the kid is only six!

DBrim
DBrim moderator

This is what happens when we launch while I'm traveling