Josh Beckett: Late Round Sleeper

Stephen Dunn

I profile Josh Beckett who, after struggling in Boston, pitched very well in Los Angeles after the huge trade last August.

The Dodgers made a huge trade with the Boston Red Sox last August, a deal that brought star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Carl Crawford to Los Angeles, but Josh Beckett was also ncluded in the deal, and will be just as valuable for the Dodgers in 2013. He becomes their #3 starter behind aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and brings playoff and World Series experience to a staff with limited playoff experience.

Beckett also brings four years of experience pitching in the National League. Prior to his trade to Boston back in 2006, Beckett pitched in Florida for four seasons, going 41-34 with a 3.40 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and a strikeouts per nine just under 9.0. Sure, that all happened prior to 2005 when he was younger, but he is moving to the NL West, chock full of parks that are quite friendly to starting pitchers.

Josh Beckett's overall stats for 2012 are nothing to write home about, as he went just 7-14 with a 4.65 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, and a 1.327 WHIP in 170.1 innings last season. But, most of the damage was done while pitching in Boston, and here is a closer look, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Year Tm W L ERA GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 TOT 7 14 4.65 28 170.1 174 88 21 52 132 91 1.327 2.7 7.0 2.54
2012 BOS 5 11 5.23 21 127.1 131 74 16 38 94 83 1.327 2.7 6.6 2.47
2012 LAD 2 3 2.93 7 43.0 43 14 5 14 38 131 1.326 2.9 8.0 2.71
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2013.

As the table above shows, he struggled while pitching in the American League East, going 5-11 with an ERA north of 5.00 and a career low 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings. After the trade to Los Angeles, he looked like the old Josh Beckett, lowering his ERA by two runs, increasing his strikeout rate from 6.6 K/9 to 8.0 K/9.

While he still gave up too many base runners (1.326) for my liking, he did pitch well above average in his seven starts in Los Angeles. His ERA+, which adjusts a pitcher's ERA according to the ballpark he pitches in, of 131 was his third best performance of his career. OK, so it was just seven starts, but since league average ERA+ is 100, his ERA+ of 131 means that league ERA was 31% higher than Beckett's in those seven starts.

Can he duplicate the ERA+ of 131 in 2013? I doubt it. He will have his ups and downs, but I do see him outperforming his draft round next season. Most fantasy owners will focus on his full year stats and see the 4.65 ERA and 1.33 WHIP and decide to pass. That would be a mistake, as he has the chance to pitch closer to his career norms in 2013. Who wouldn't want a late round starter with a sub 4.00 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, with the chance for 12-14 wins on draft day. In auction leagues, he should for for a buck or two, and should provide value to fantasy owners.

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