Beckett Versus Halladay: Not As Lopsided As You Think

Spoiler alert: If you think Roy Halladay is God’s gift to pitching — and that Josh Beckett is a scrub who just can’t compete with him — then be prepared for what you’re about to see.

Here are two ace pitchers on two American League East teams. Here is a breakdown of their stats over the last quarter of the 2009 season, courtesy of Boston.com’s Eric Wilbur:

Pitcher 1: 3-2, 2.76 ERA, 5 HR, .283 BA

Pitcher 2: 7-1, 1.93 ERA, 5 HR, .187 BA

But wait, there’s more: Here are their numbers over the last eighth of the season:

Pitcher 1: 0-2, 4.30 ERA, 3 HR, .304 BA

Pitcher 2: 3-0, 2.12, 3 HR, .198 BA

If you showed me those numbers, I’d say with 100 percent certainty that Beckett was Pitcher  1 and Halladay was Pitcher 2.

But I’d be wrong.

Now let’s backtrack. Over the first half of 2009, Halladay has
essentially been a shoo-in for the Cy Young, and his nearest
competition isn’t even Beckett. It’s Kansas City’s Zach Greinke.

If you look at their overall numbers, or even their overall careers,
it’s easy to say that the Doctor has been the superior pitcher. They’re
hardly even in the same universe. It’s Adam versus Kris; there’s really no comparison.

Or is there?

Start by looking at their overall numbers in 2009:

Halladay: 10-3, 2.85 ERA, 3 CG, 123.0 IP, 39 ER, 106 K’s, 1.098 WHIP

Beckett: 11-3, 3.35 ERA, 2 CG, 121.0 IP, 45 ER, 110 K’s, 1.149 WHIP

Look closely. The figures are a lot more comparable than they were,
say, a month ago, and it’s because Beckett has been far, far better
over the second quarter of the 2009 season than he was during the first
quarter — and he’s been better than Halladay, too.

Yeah, I said it.

It may seem trivial to divide the season into quarters, eighths,
whatever. It may seem unreasonable to completely KO Beckett’s terrible
first quarter. Maybe the Doc is going through a midseason, month-long
slide, and he’ll be lights out during the second half. It’s possible,
even probable — but it’s no longer possible to discount Beckett.

This isn’t to say he’s better than Halladay; he may never be better
than Halladay. But right now — during this critical stretch of the 2009
season — Beckett’s been just as good, maybe even better, when an
offensively-anemic team needs his best stuff.

Beckett’s not Halladay, but he’s sure been acting like it lately.

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