Josh Beckett has endured a lot of bad press over the last two years, and he’s to blame for pretty much all of it. The good news for bargain-hunting fantasy managers is that all the talk about his bad attitude, poor conditioning, and general selfishness might do wonders for his average draft position. According to Mock Draft Central that hasn’t been the case so far, but I find MDC to be a rather poor representation of what’s actually happening in fantasy leagues. For the most part people draft players in accordance with their pre-draft rank, and MDC mistakenly has Beckett ahead of Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Garza, and Adam Wainwright just to name a few.
That said, Beckett did impress after the Red Sox pretty much gave him away to the Dodgers. In 43 innings with LA he posted a 2.93 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 7.95 K/9. The ERA was a bit lucky given the small sample size (3.82 FIP with the Dodgers), but his strikeout rate was back to pre-2011 levels, which, as you may recall, was the beginning of Boston’s infamous “chicken and beer” era. Strikeout rates tend to rise noticeably once a pitcher moves to the NL, and Beckett will definitely enjoy a full season away from Boston and the rest of the AL East.
At a Glance
Strengths: K, K/9
Neutral: ERA, WHIP, W, L, BB, QS, IP
Weaknesses: attitude/facial hair, which thankfully aren’t categories in most leagues
Best-case scenario: Anibal Sanchez (DET),
Likely scenario: Ryan Dempster (BOS), Ryan Vogelsong (SF), Homer Bailey (CIN)
Worst-case scenario: Gavin Floyd (CHW)
Josh Becket 2013 Fantasy Projection
I went back and forth between listing WHIP as “neutral” or “weakness” but eventually settled on “neutral” because he did have a 1.03 WHIP in 2011. Of course, that year he was the beneficiary of a .245 BABIP (previous career low was .262 back in 2006) so he won’t be doing that again, but Beckett’s head just wasn’t in the game for many of his years in Boston. That might remain the case in LA, but the laid-back, West Coast atmosphere better suits a person of Beckett’s mold. That could mean a more relaxed Beckett, which could mean a throwback season meant to stick in Sox fans’ craw. Beckett’s just the kind of player to put together an All-Star season just to spite his former fan base.
Spite can only carry you so far, though, and Beckett has seen his fastball velocity decline every year since 2006. Not coincidentally, he’s upped his cutter usage every year since ’06 as well, but that’s been a below-average pitch every year but 2011. Overall, though, Beckett’s better than the numbers he put up last year in Boston, but not as good as the 3.26 ERA Bill James projects him for. And definitely not as good as Zimmermann, Garza, or Wainwright.