Sunday, February 19, 2012

Best 1-2 Punch in the AL East

Going by ERA+ from last season, this is how they stack up in the AL East...

Red Sox - Beckett (147) & Lester (122)
Yankees - Sabathia (147) & Pineda (103)
Rays - Shields (132) & Price (107)
Blue Jays - Romero (146) & Morrow (90)
Orioles - LOL!

When it comes to the Rays I expect Price's ERA+ to rise to around 125 (it was 144 in 2010, and he'd already thrown 142.1 innings in MLB), but at the same time I expect Shields' ERA+ to drop. James' career high ERA+ before last season was 124 in 2008, and he turned 30 last December, so I wouldn't bet on him repeating his 2011 season. Looking closer I see that Shields can attribute his success to a much lower LD% (21% in 2009, 22% in 2010, 17% in 2011), and his ground ball rate went down a bit too (43.8% for his career, to 46.2% last season).

I see no way Beckett repeats his 2011 season either. A 2.89 ERA (career 3.84), 1.026 WHIP (career 1.220), while his K-rate and BB-rate were pretty much the same as his career averages. Basically, I think Josh got lucky last year. Lester, on the other hand, has seen his ERA+ drop in each of the last 4 years. His K-rate has dropped in each of the last 3 years as well.

Over the last 4 years CC has had an ERA+ of 157, 137, 136, and 147. His K-rate rose by about 1 K per 9 from his career average, which would lead one to think he'll regress a bit. However, he gave up more hits than he normally had in his first two seasons in pinstripes. His walks dropped a bit, but not so much that it makes warning bells go off. It's hard to judge what Pineda will do, as he's only had the one year in MLB. But he was giving up less hits per 9 innings than he did in the minors, and was striking out about the same. Working with MLB coaches should do nothing but help, and his potential is an ace in MLB, so I have to think he'll get better no matter what the numbers may say (keeping in mind I'm using minor league numbers as well as MLB numbers, so not a perfect sample by any means).

I'm not going to bother with the other two teams, because it's just not worth it. So this is how I expect the AL East 1-2 punches to pan out this coming season...

Yankees - Sabathia (135) & Pineda (115)
Rays - Shields (115) & Price (125)
Red Sox - Beckett (120) & Lester (120)
Blue Jays - Romero should have a pretty good year, but after that who knows?
Orioles - I don't see one pitcher worth mentioning here

Although the total ERA+ for the Rays and Sox are the same, I put the Rays in front due to the big drop from Shields (which I'm not 100% sure about), and the potential of David Price.

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