Earlier this month, I did an entry comparing the Bill James projections of position player performances to their actual numbers. As always, James was correct more often than not. I had a reader request after that post that I do one concerning our pitchers, and I agreed to - once the playoffs were over. Alas, I would much rather be typing up Red Sox ALCS preview, but this will have to do:
Projection: 29 games, 189 IP, 21 HR, 176 SO, 3.57 ERA, 13-8 record
Actual: 32, 212.1, 25, 199, 3.86, 17-6
Despite the panic in Red Sox Nation over Josh's late-season performance, he actual over-achieved in virtually every category except HR and ERA, and those were close. While Lester may have overtaken him as the ace, he remains a top-tier pitcher.
Projection: 32 games, 212 IP, 19 HR, 168 SO, 4.02 ERA, 12-11 record
Actual: 32, 203.1, 20, 225, 3.41, 15-8
Lester emerged as a true top of the rotation guy this year, breaking the franchise single season strikeouts record for a southpaw, and becoming the dominating force he was projected to be. Obviously, be smashed James' SO, ERA, and W-L projections, but there was some worry that his innings from the 2008 campaign might adversely affect him... Clearly, that wasn't the case.
Projection: 30 games, 184 IP, 17 HR, 174 SO, 3.58 ERA, 12-8 record
Actual: 12, 59.1, 10, 54, 5.76, 4-6
Obviously, James couldn't have predicted Daisuke's terrible offseason training regimen, which sent him to the WBC and then Spring Training completely out of shape and unable to perform. This, of course, resulted in a lost season from the Japanese enigma. However, the guy we saw in September was encouraging: here's hoping he actually does his workouts this winter.
Projection: 28 games, 160 IP, 21 HR, 107 SO, 3.91 ERA, 10-8 record
Actual: 21, 129.2, 12, 72, 4.58, 11-5
Knuckleballs are hard to predict on the field, and even more difficult to predict over the course of a season. Wake had an amazing first half, going to his first All-Star game, and let's not forget that gem he threw in April, which could be pointed to as an early turning point for the team. Though his second-half problems are becoming a habit, I'd like to see the team give him another year, especially for $4 million.
(Clay Buchholz was not listed in the 2009 Bill James Handbook)
Projection: 71 games, 81 IP, 3.44 ERA, 6-3 record, 1 save
Actual: 64, 59.2, 4.53, 5-2, 0
MDC had a great start, lest you forget, but his second half slide was particularly bad, as he melted down in several important situations. People who would know (Curt Schilling, for one) often say that Delcarmen has some of the best stuff on the team, and could be a closer on many teams... It just doesn't look like he has the makeup - except maybe in the National League.
Projection: 61 games, 61 IP, 3.19 ERA, 5-2 record, 0 saves
Actual: 68, 61, 3.39, 6-0, 0
Oki was what we have come to expect: a quietly above-average pitcher who can get right- and left-handers out with nearly equal efficiency, who can come in to get a single out or go two innings. His consistency is a luxury that many teams don't have. Who's the throw-in now, Daisuke?
Projection: 50 games, 52 IP, 3.09 ERA, 4-2 record, 20 saves
Actual: 56, 55.2, 2.43, 3-3, 2 saves
This one is more interesting: Saito's projections were based off what he would do if he were to stay the closer for the Dodgers. Clearly, when he came to Boston, his role changed: he didn't save games unless Paps wasn't available, and after Billy Wags came to town, forget it. However, his ERA was excellent for someone of his age and cost, and he exceeded expectations (numerically), even within the AL East.
Projection:66 games, 67 IP, 3.74 ERA, 4-4 record, 1 save
Actual: 70, 69.2, 2.84, 7-4, 0
Again, Ramirez's projections were based on the assumption that he would be playing in Kansas City, yet he STILL exceeded all expectations across the board, even with the new pressures of a pennant race and a city that blows everything baseball-related out of proportions. Thanks, Coco!
Projection: 64 games, 71 IP, 2.04 ERA, 5-3 record, 41 saves
Actual: 66, 68, 1.85, 1-1, 38
Despite some shakiness in the first half, while he was "changing his mechanics," Paps had an extremely good year. His ERA was awesome, and despite the heart attacks, he converted his save opportunities more often than not. However, his most impressive stat is probably the combined 5,000 years he took off the lives of Sox fans everywhere.
(Daniel Bard and Billy Wagner are not listed in the 2009 Bill James Handbook)