Recently, before the season started, Jon Lester was getting hammered by some experts including a mild ribbing by my good friend and co-host Evan Dickens. It's apparent that no matter what Lester does he will be criticized in the end. Criticism's of Lester come primarily from Sabermetric folks who love to dabble in the formulas and the anomalies they create.
Some of us who actually do work and research know that Sabermetrics is a failed system and you cannot judge a pro ballplayer just by punching six weeks' worth of stats into a calculator. I've always stated that variables play too big of a role in baseball for Sabermetrics to work the way it's used in fantasy baseball.
I'll put it to you like this: If it worked, why is Lester still pitching for the Red Sox? That might be a silly question, they are a big user of the system, only they use it to enhance scouting and not replace it like many fantasy baseball analysts do.
Here is another question, if Sabermetrics is full proof, why don't professional gamblers use it and get rich from it? Because it doesn't work and nobody would put big bucks on it.
OK, back to Lester. When I look for a guy that I want on my team, Lester is perfect. Here is a man who beat cancer. There aren't a lot of people who can say that. Not only did he beat it, but during his first season back he throws a no-hitter.
How amazing was that, and consider that he can do that at any point. Then he dominates for the Red Sox in the playoffs and get a World Series ring. All in the same year. Then he follows that up with an encore year in 2008. Now that he's had a slow start in 2009, the wolves smell blood.
Lester hasn't had the best start. Last year these bedroom Sabermetric guys attacked his ERA and K/9. I told everyone before the season in my breakout article on Lester that his K/9 rate would go up, wins up, and his WHIP would go down.
So far I got the first one right. Now, on a recent article I read on Bleacher Report, his ability to hold the K/9 of 10.67 would be tough. Tell me something I don't know. I'd be thrilled to get a 8.5 K/9 out of Lester, so even a drop in over two K/9 would be alright.
So why has Lester had such a tough start? Well, there are lots of reasons. Freezing cold and rain doesn't help and also timely plays and lucky bounces. Here is the deal, every year a pitcher has a certain number of bad hops: unlucky bounces, errors, and general bad defense throughout the year.
It happens to everyone, but for Lester he's had a lot of that in his first six weeks! Once things even out, you will see the impact of that on his WHIP, ERA, and W/L (psst, the stats the really matter Saber-guys).
Now he has had a very rough start and eight home runs already after only 14 last season should open up your eyes. Why aren't Sabermetric experts pointing out that fact as an anomaly that will be corrected? Is Lester the GW of baseball pitchers? I digress.
Here is the dish on Lester that the average Saber-guy doesn't pay attention too. Lester added a changeup this year to battle right hand batters and to keep all hitters honest on his fastball and cutter. That is the reason his K's have gone up as having a changeup to compliment your fastball is crucial to punching out players. That's a little pitching lesson for the Saber-guys.
Adding a new pitch doesn't always yield perfect results upfront. While Lester is getting more strikeouts, the change in pitch calls and strategy has thrown him off a bit and I'm sure he's left some hanging in the zone as well. Also, once you slow down the batters bats, bloops and other lucky hits occur, but the overall results will be there.
So Sabermetric guys, back off of Lester. I'll tell you this, no one is giving up on the guy and frankly he was drafted super high by allot of experts including my friend Scott Engel at RotoExperts.com who stole him from me in the seventh round of an expert draft. I haven't heard Scott posting, "Will trade Lester for food!"
So until that happens or at least we see Lester sucking at the end of June, will you guys lay off the man and let him pitch.
Here are my updated projections for Jon Lester: 19-8, 3.69, 1.25, 192 Ks
Let's see how it all turns out. Remember, it's the guys that give up on their studs to early that lose.