|Lackey vs. Beckett|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on August 15, 2007
Unfortunately, Mike Scioscia and Terry Francona have decided to deny the fans the joy of watching the two current Cy Young frontrunners in the AL face off against others, instead feeding them recently demoted Ervin Santana and a TBD. On the one hand that leaves the possibility that both Beckett (15-5) and Lackey (15-6) earn another win and bolster their resumé. On the other hand, we still won't know who is better. Since the answer to that question will not be given on the diamond this Friday, lets check a few stats and facts to find out who gets my MVP (most virtuous pitcher), a special award that captures current and past performance on and off the field.
Lackey Beckett ERA 3.07 3.24 K/9 7.03 8.55 AVGA .279 .311 SLGA .359 .377 GB% 44.9% 48.0% IFFB% 8.6% 13.8%
Lackey has the slightly better ERA, but any way you look at it, Beckett just has the better periphals. He has also given up just two unearned runs, while Big John has ten. However, Lackey has allowed three fewer extra base hits than Beckett in 14 more innings. But still:
Defense & Offense
Lackey Beckett BABIP .303 .314 LOB% 76.2% 72.5% DER .703 .699 FIP 3.75 2.75 RS/IP 0.79 0.58
Beckett gets a killer run support: 7.15 runs per nine innings while Lackey gets only 5.19, but that's still plenty. Overall, John's defense is better and therefore, he has more luck on balls in play. He also strands a higher percentage of baserunners. One has the better bats backing him, the other one the superior gloves.
Lackey Beckett Height 6-6 6-5 Weight 245 lbs. 222 lbs. Fastball 93mph 98mph HB 10 2 State Texas Texas
Don't mess with Texas! Both are intimidating figures on the mound, with a slight edge for Lackey. While Beckett has more zip on his fastball, he only hit two guys in four months, so nobody is too shaken to step in against him. Verdict:
Efficiency & Durability
Lackey Beckett GS 24 22 IP 161.1 147.1 IP/S 6.7 6.7 P/IP 15.4 15.1 P/PA 3.7 3.7 DP 17 10 Strike% 64.2% 63.0%
Lackey has been slightly more durable, while Beckett gets through his innings a little faster. Both pitch about the same innings per game and they know how to throw strikes. Although Josh has a history of blister problems, it seems the Boston medical staff has taken care of that.
Being the first rookie to start and win game seven in nearly a century is nice and all, but how many rookies actually started a seventh game? All in all, five innings of one-run-ball is just not as impressive as shutting out the Yankees in New York to clinch the Series. Then again, who cares about the Florida Marlins' second title? In contrast, the 2002 World Series changed the fate of an erstwhile miserable franchise. Plus, Lackey gets a few bonus points for the near-perfect game.
Red Sox nation couldn't come up with something cooler? Zero points for that. However, Josh gets credit for having dated Leeann Tweeden- Then again, she's no Alyssa Milano, so that's only a half point. John on the other hand, he is one of us, he is a blogger. If that's not worth a whole point, I don't know what is.
Final result: 4-3.5 in favor of John Lackey
Conclusion: So Lackey narrowly edges out Beckett for the Most-Virtuous-Pitcher award. Is this also a prediction for the Cy Young? I'm afraid the answer is "probably not". While I have no doubts that Lackey can pitch as well as Beckett down the stretch, he probably has to clearly outperfom him (two wins more or reaching 20 wins while Beckett does not) because with all the media-hype surrounding Josh and his Sox, he will get the hardware if he's in the mix until the end.