I am a sports and music fanatic from Farmington, CT, currently attending Saint Joseph's University in Connecticut. I am mainly interested in College Basketball, CIAC High School Basketball, and Major League Baseball, though I follow just about all sports closely.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Josh Beckett: Post Season God, or Regular Season underachiever?

Personally, I'm kind of wondering about Josh Beckett right now. It's like the story Ray Allen once told about Jim Calhoun in a speech that he gave once. According to Ray, Calhoun once told his players to reach their hands in the air as high as they could. Everyone raised their hands. Then Calhoun asked if they could raise them higher, and then higher, and higher. The players all continued to raise their hands higher to impress their coach. But Calhoun wasn't impressed. He, instead wondered why they couldn't raise their hands to their highest the first time like he had told them to. This is what I'm feeling with Josh Beckett right now.

Now we all know how good Beckett has been in his young postseason career, throwing an amazing 3 postseason shutouts in just 6 postseason starts. We also know that Beckett is a strong contender for the Cy Young Award this year after winning 20 games and acheiving an E.R.A. of about 3.20, but from the way he pitched yesterday, his numbers should have been much, much better than that. I don't think I've ever witnessed a pitching performance quite as strong as Beckett's last night, not Buchholtz's no hitter, Schilling's ALCS bloody sock performance, or the Pedro shutout I saw live in 2004. Hitters were already in a whole when the went up to the plate for Los Angeles, as almost no matter what Beckett would get ahead 1-0. His fastball was reaching 98 on the gun, his sinker was dropping off and staying at 96 MPH, and his off-speed pitches were extremely effective as well. With the way he was pitching yesterday, he wasn't ever going to give up a run, no matter how long he had to pitch, but yet he still gave up more than 3 runs per 9 innings in the regular season.

The question to pose is, why does Josh Beckett appear so much better in the postseason than in the regular season. I understand the concept of adrenaline, but as a Red Sock he should feel that same adrenaline rush in Yankee games, but he does at time struggle against the Yankees during the regular season. Maybe he's just conserving his energy in the regular season, waiting for October to come the whole time. If so, I respect him for that, and if he can put up those kind of regular season numbers with even better postseason numbers, than I'll be happy. But, I don't think Beckett's the type of guy to do that. Maybe it's just pure luck. Maybe he always just happens to have his best stuff during October, or maybe it's the colder weather. Whatever it is that's advancing his play, in one way I can't say I mind it, but I'm still confused as to why he isn't as dominant during the regular season. I'd love to see Beckett's final stats in a season if he threw a shutout every other game in the regular season like he does in the playoffs. We'll probably never know.

Here's a stat to close out with that absolutely blows my mind. In the postseason Josh Beckett has thrown 3 shutouts in 6 starts, a 1:2 ratio. But amazingly in regular season play he has only thrown 2 shutouts in 166 starts, a 1:83 ratio. Explain that.

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