I’m not sure if anyone in Boston noticed, but the Boston Red Sox had a down year last season. Across the board, Boston suffered through one of their worst seasons in recent memory, and their all-seeing, never forgiving, fan-base will certainly be looking for improvement this year from several key guys. Potentially, the most prime example of this is starting pitcher, Jon Lester. He went from fantasy baseball stud to headache over the course of one season and now we’re left to figure out what to do with him.
While it is easy to look at Lester’s 2012 numbers and write him off, I think we all need to take a deep breath and look at some facts before we rush to judgment. Between 2008 and 2011, Lester won no fewer than 15 games and posted an ERA no higher than 3.47. He also struck out 220 batters or more twice in that span.
Heading into 2012 Lester was one of the most consistent and dominating pitchers in baseball. A solid four-category performer, Lester didn’t live up to his reputation in 2012, but he has still had a long and sustained history of success. The question now remains, do we throw away his past success and believe he is a mediocre pitcher or do we say that he is a proven talent and simply had a bad season.
I am proclaiming to you that Jon Lester is still the guy that we thought he was going into 2012. I think that he could be one of the steals of the draft, but only if you have the guts to gamble on him. Here is why I think he will bounce back; talent, talent, and more talent. There are few guys with the raw stuff that Lester possesses from the left side. He has proven over and over again how great he is and has a much longer track record of dominance than he does mediocrity.
His batting average on balls in play yielded was at a staggering .314 last season. Compare that to .287 in 2011 and it’s easy to tell that part of the story was simply bad luck. His batting average against also jumps close to 40 points from 2011 to 2012. This indicates to me that hitters were simply hitting good pitches off him. That happens at times in this day in age. There are too many good hitters and sometimes they get the best of a pitcher for a stretch.
Lester may not be the same guy that he was in 2010 when he won 19 games and struck out 225 guys, but he clearly is still a top-notch pitcher. Don’t let a poor 2012 scare you off, all pitchers go through rough patches. He figures to enter 2013 outside of most expert’s top-25 pitchers, but yet I believe a simple regression to the mean will put him easily inside that group, maybe even inside the top 10.