At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Red Sox Ace: Tim Wakefield at the all star break

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 13, 2008

There has been much debate about which Red Sox starter is the Ace in Beantown:  Wakefield, Beckett, Lester or Matsuzaka.

 

UM….I guess Wakfefield doesn’t fit into the discussion too much.  That 68 mph flutter ball and his advancing age does NOT get much love.

 

Well…….. 

 

The “Ace” is an imaginary designation which doesn’t mean much beyond bestowing extra praise and pressure on a player.

 

But for the fun of it, I’ll take a shot at it.

 

Let’s start by looking at the starting staff overall – and then focusing on just the four guys who have made 71 of the team’s 96 starts.

 

The team ERA for all Sox starting pitchers is a combined 3.77 before the man from Tokyo makes the Sox’s last pre-All Star break start today.

 

3.77 ? 

 

Soxaholics, let us not ever, ever complain about our starters this year.    Heck, we’ve had stretches of the inverted — 7.33.

 

Our motto used to be, “We’re good, we’ve got enough pitching.”.  

The Yankees motto was, “You can never have enough pitching.”.

 

Wow.

 

Our world is upside down.  Cats sleeping with dogs.  Hank Steinbrenner admitting he’s brash.  The Rays and Cubs in first place.

 

The Sox are just one small step from pitching dominance akin the Orioles of the late sixties-early seventies.

 

Dear God, grant us one decent middle reliever, load him up with a nasty sinker, a change and a slider, and make his name Justin Masterson.

 

This season is making me dizzy.

 

But  — back to the question at hand — who is the Ace ?

 

Wakefield’s made 19 starts, 13 quality starts, with a 3.60 ERA.  Team 9W-10L.

 

Beckett’s made 17 starts, 11 quality starts, with a 3.93 ERA.  Team 10W-7L.

 

Lester’s made 20 starts, 11 quality start, with a 3.38 ERA. Team 13W-7L.

 

Matsuzaka’s made 15 starts, 10 quality starts, with a 2.84 ERA. Team 12W-3L.

 

I go by quality starts, i.e., a start in which the pitcher goes 5 to 7 innings, hangs up a game ERA that is below 4.00, and thus gives his team a good chance to win.

 

Immediately, Tim Wakefield becomes the default Ace.  He’s got the most quality starts, a very respectable ERA, and you can throw out the team 9W-10L record when he starts because wins and losses do not reflect the quality of pitching.  W’s and L’s are all about the team performance.

 

Besides, if we went by wins and losses only, we’d have to evaluate who Julio Lugo has screwed more with his poor fielding.  The guy has almost as many errors as he does RBI.

 

And, if we were going by W’s, Matsuzaka walks away as the Ace by virtue of his 12W-3L team record.  The team just consistently outscores the competition when Matsuzaka is walking the tightrope, getting out of jam after jam.

 

Run support per start is very close among these 4 guys — Matsuzaka at 5.33 Runs per start, Beckett at 5.82,  Lester 5.1,  and Wake 5.2.

 

And that closeness in average run support is matched by closeness in percent-of-quality starts among Wake, Beckett and Dice Kay.  (Range:  65% to 68% quality.)

 

 

Translation:  You get about the same chance of a quality start whether it is Wake, Beckett or Matsuzaka who starts. 

 

So, there is no real Ace.   

 

My hair-splitting & inconsequential vote at the break for Sox Ace thus goes to the 41 year old (turns 42 on Aug. 2) senior citizen of the staff.   He’s the most boring starter, throwing the 68 mph knuckler 85% of the time, mixing it w an 80 mph slow, uh, I mean, fastball.  He gets my vote by virtue of having accumulated 2 more quality starts than anyone else.

 

Had Matsuzaka not missed 4 starts he may have eclipsed Wake in quality starts. 

 

In the long run, this Race to Be Ace may turn out in Matsuzaka’s favor.  It’s a long season and we’re only 59.8% done.

 

Then again, Dice Kay’s high pitch counts could produce a fatigued arm by Labor day.

 

What do you think ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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