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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Season in Review: Tim Wakefield


Preseason Predictions:
There were none, because I didn't think he would play a big role.

Actual Stats:
23 GS, 7-8, 5.12 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 154.2 IP

Tim Wakefield was just supposed to be a long-relief man available for spot starts if there were injuries to the rotation. However, long-term injuries to both Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka forced the team to insert the veteran knuckle-baller into the rotation for much of the year. The results were pretty much exactly what you'd expect if you've seen this guy pitch over the years. His 23 starts and 154.2 IP are both the most he has made since 2008, as he has been out of the bullpen the last few years. Unlike John Lackey, who could attribute at least some of his struggles to plain bad luck, Wakefield does not have that luxury. His BABIP of .274 exactly matches his career number, meaning his luck regressed exactly to the mean this year. This is backed up by his FIP of 4.99, which is relatively close to his actual ERA. His control, if you can call it that with a knuckleball, was slightly off all year. Although his walk total per nine innings was 2.73, down from his 3.36 career mark, he allowed 1.45 HR/9, the highest total he's allowed since 2000. Since a knuckleball is so unpredictable, keeping it down is key. However, his ground ball percentage lowered while his fly ball percentage rose, leading me to believe he left it up a little more than he had in the past. Seemingly every year, Wakefield has a month or so in which people start believing he is better than he is based on a small sample size of work. This year, it just so happened to be in May, when the Buchholz and Dice-K injuries occured. He posted a 3.51 ERA (4.04 FIP) in the month, giving people hope that he could be a useful answer in the rotation. However, that hope fell when Wakefield went back to his normal playing level.

Final Grade:
Wakefield obviously didn't have a great season, but not much was expected out of him. At this point in his career, it is time for the team to let him go. I, along with the vast majority of Red Sox Nation, am greatly appreciative of all he has done for this team and city, but at this point he is taking up a roster spot. Since the expectations weren't very much for Wakefield, I will give him a C for the year.

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