Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Season in Review: Jon Lester


Pre-season Prediction:
3.31 ERA, 21-5, 234 K, 1.22 WHIP, All Star

Actual Stats:
3.47 ERA, 15-9, 182 K, 1.26 WHIP, All Star

While my predictions for Jon Lester were closer than I expected them to be before I checked back on them, he still didn't have the caliber season I was expecting. I came into the season thinking Lester would claim his place as the team's absolute ace, and he failed to do so. Although he started 31 games, he only threw 191.1 innings, the lowest total as a full-time starter in the bigs. That averages out to just over six innings a start. While that is acceptable for a middle-of-the-rotation kind of guy, a true ace of a playoff caliber team should be throwing over 200 innings in a full season. He saw his K/9 drop from nearly ten the past two years, to 8.55, and his walk totals stayed stagnant from the year before. His FIP was also the highest it has been since his first year in the rotation, 2008, and finished at a 3.83. Lester faltered down the stretch, but actually maintained a pretty consistent month-to-month FIP, with May being the only month the number jumped over 4. However, if you look strictly at ERA, his September was no good, as he owned a 5.40 ERA in the season's final month. His batted ball percentages all look somewhat consistent with his career numbers, except for a reduced line drive percentage (15.9%) and a bloated HR/FB ratio (11.4%). Looking back at his starts, the biggest change Lester should make in the offseason is becoming less reliant on his cutter. It is a very good pitch in moderation, but he threw it more than he ever has in 2011, and he seemed to be leaving more over the plate.

Final Grade:
While Lester didn't have a bad year, he was an All-Star, he didn't have the type of season I was expecting from the ace. Keeping that in mind, I'll give Lester a B- for the year.

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