Josh Beckett has hardly lived up to expectations this season. While it had become apparent that he had drawn the ire of Boston fans, Beckett was beginning to have the same effect on his fantasy owners. With the trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Beckett’s fortunes should be on the rise. As our own Eno Sarris pointed out, there are many reasons to think Beckett will improve out West. With the playoffs quickly approaching, Beckett could become a useful fantasy asset again.
Beckett should immediately gain value just by switching leagues. We know that it’s beneficial for pitchers to face fewer designated hitters, but it’s good to know how big the disparity is between both leagues.
Across the board, NL hitters are inferior to AL hitters. Using wOBA as a guideline, the average hitter in the AL is as good as 2012 Jhonny Peralta. The average NL hitter is 2012 Marco Scutaro. That’s not as great of a disparity as one might expect, but it’s still a point in Beckett’s favor. Another nice thing about NL hitters is that they’ve hit for less power than AL hitters this season. Since Beckett has struggled with the home run — he has a 1.13 HR/9 — that could bode well for him.
At the same time, giving up home runs could have been a factor a Beckett’s ballpark. Fenway Park is notoriously known as a hitter’s park, while Dodgers Stadium plays friendlier to pitchers.
|Park||K (LHB/RHB)||nB (LHB/RHB)||1B||2B/3B||HR|
|Fenway Park||101, 93||102, 100||106, 103||125, 123||83, 107|
|Dodgers Stadium||101, 100||98, 102||102, 101||90, 86||108, 101|
Overall, Fenway is a much better hitter’s park. Home runs, however, could still be a problem. While Fenway allowed home runs to right-handers at a decent clip, it suppressed power against lefties. That’s not going to be the case in L.A. Dodgers Stadium has above-average home run rates against both types of hitters, but the park is slightly more advantageous to lefties.
That could be an issue for Beckett. His numbers have been far worse against left-handed hitters this year. Lefties have hit .272/.332/.489 against Beckett, with 11 of his 16 home runs. Beckett attempts to offset those struggles with a slightly higher strikeout rate against lefties, but it’s not high enough to be effective. With lefties hitting him well all season, and especially for power, his home run problems might not go away just because he changed parks. There’s actually a chance they could get a little worse. Dodgers Stadium does suppress doubles and triples, however, so Beckett will see some gain there.
Moving to the Dodgers is ultimately a good move for Beckett. He’ll be in an easier league, and his new park is more favorable to pitchers. Home runs could remain a problem, though, making Beckett far from a sure-start in most leagues. Down the stretch, Beckett should face the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Rockies at home. While using him against the Cardinals would be risky, he could have value in the other two starts. If his road starts come in San Francisco and Washington, there’s some value in starting him there as well. Unfortunately, Beckett’s first start is in Colorado, so you may want to hold off on your excitement until next week.
Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.