Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Season in Review: John Lackey

Preseason Predictions:
16-13, 4.45 ERA, 204 IP, 1.48 WHIP, 21 HR

Actual Stats:
12-12, 6.41 ERA, 160 IP, 1.62 WHIP, 20 HR

John Lackey has been receiving a lot of well-deserved grief for the season he had in 2011. He came out of the gates absolutely horrendously, allowing 35 runs in his first 39.1 IP. His May ERA was an atrocious 14.34. There were some personal issues that probably played a role in his ineffectiveness, but since I don't know him, it isn't really my place to discuss that. The fact is, Lackey had about as bad a season as possible. In fact, if it wasn't for the massive amounts of injuries on this pitching staff, he probably would have been taken out of the rotation at some point this summer. Now, there was definitely some bad luck involved with his subpar performance, made evident by his BABIP of .339 (well-above his career .309) and his 4.71 FIP, well below his ERA. Control was another major problem for Lackey, as he posted his lowest K/9 since his rookie season (6.08), a career-high BB/9 (3.15) and his third highest HR/9 (1.13). He was unable to keep the ball down in the zone as much as he would have liked, as he posted a GB% three points lower than his career mark. His LD% being as high as it has been since 2005 indicates he left too many pitches up in the zone where a hitter can get a good piece of the bat on it. Surprisingly, his fastball actually gained velocity from last year, and he had comparable movement. Lastly, he was clearly laboring all year, as his pace was three seconds higher than it had ever been since 2007, when FanGraphs started keeping track of this.

Final Grade:
Lackey was unlucky this year, but that doesn't excuse his performance. He was a huge disappointment, and while I think he will bounce back to somewhere near his past form this year, Red Sox Nation is ready to see him go. While I think that is unlikely, it will surely be explored. I have no choice but to give Lackey an F for 2011. 

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