Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
Sunday, October 26, 2003
 
Hello Goodbye

You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello
I don't know why you say goodbye
I say hello


--John Lennon & Paul McCartney





The 2003 World Series will not only be remembered for the improbable victory by the Florida Marlins over the New York Yankees in six games but also the arrival of baseball's newest star, Josh Beckett, and the departure of its oldest star, Roger Clemens. In a touch of irony, Beckett's complete-game, five-hit shutout last night ended the career of Clemens, the player he grew up idolizing.

Beckett and Clemens have a lot of similarities. Both are Texans. Both are approximately the same height (Beckett, 6'5", and Clemens, 6'4"). Both are power pitchers, throwing fastballs in the mid- to high-90s. Both were highly touted as amateurs (Beckett, 1999 All-USA High School Baseball Player of the Year; Clemens, two-time All-America honors at the University of Texas and the winning pitcher of the 1983 College World Series). Both were drafted in the first round (Beckett, #2 in 1999, and Clemens, #19 in 1983). Both had outstanding minor league records. And both showed glimpses of stardom in their first couple of injury-plagued years in the big leagues.

Let's take a closer look at their records.





MINOR LEAGUE COMPARISONS

Totals:

	G	IP	H	R	ER	BB	SO	ERA

Beckett 43 215 142 51 42 51 295 1.76
Clemens 23 151 104 28 26 37 178 1.55

Rate Stats:

	H/IP	WHIP	K/IP	K/BB

Beckett 0.66 0.90 1.37 5.78
Clemens 0.69 0.93 1.18 4.81

The minor league records of Beckett and Clemens are eerily similar in terms of ERA, H/IP, and WHIP. Josh and Roger also struck out well in excess of one batter per inning and their strikeout/walk ratios were both around 5:1. Beckett's superiority in strikeouts is probably more a function of the difference in the eras in which they pitched than anything else.


MAJOR LEAGUE COMPARISONS:

Totals Through Age 23:

	G	IP	H	R	ER	BB	SO	ERA

Beckett 51 274 239 119 101 111 289 3.32
Clemens 36 232 229 105 100 66 200 3.88

Rate Stats:

	H/IP	WHIP	K/IP	K/BB

Beckett 0.87 1.28 1.05 2.60
Clemens 0.99 1.27 0.86 3.03

Again, there are more similarities between Beckett and Clemens than differences. Through age 23, Beckett has generated more strikeouts per inning than Clemens did although the latter had much better control than the former. All in all, one might give a slight edge to Beckett.

Going forward, Beckett will need to step up his regular season totals next year in order to stay abreast of Clemens as far as age comparisons are concerned because The Rocket broke through the following year (1986) with one of the premier seasons of the past 20 years.


1986 Totals:

	G	IP	H	R	ER	BB	SO	ERA

Clemens 33 254 179 77 70 67 238 2.48

Rate Stats:

	H/IP	WHIP	K/IP	K/BB

Clemens 0.70 0.97 0.94 3.55

Clemens won the first of his six Cy Young Awards in 1986 and was named the American League's Most Valuable Player as well. Clemens is the only starting pitcher in either league to win the MVP since Vida Blue captured the A.L. MVP in 1971.

Does Beckett have it in him to put up a 1986 Clemens-type year in 2004? The answer is a definitive "yes" based on his postseason performance.


2003 Postseason:

	G	IP	H	R	ER	BB	SO	ERA

Beckett 6 42.2 21 10 10 12 47 2.11

Rate Stats:

	H/IP	WHIP	K/IP	K/BB

Beckett 0.49 0.77 1.10 3.92

Whether Beckett comes through or not is an entirely different question. He certainly has the talent and the makeup to take the next big step, but he will need to remain healthy over the course of a full season to have a chance. Skeptics may point out that Beckett has never started more than 23 games or thrown more than 142 innings in a year. However, it should be noted that Clemens had never started more than 20 games or pitched more than 133 innings prior to his breakthrough season in 1986.

Given Beckett's meteoric rise during the postseason, I would not want to bet against him. To wit, Beckett entered the playoffs with 89 professional starts and no complete games. Less than a month later and the big righthander has two, both shutouts.


Roger, Over and Out

When Clemens took the mound in Game Four, he became the third oldest pitcher ever to start a World Series game. The Rocket was 41 years, 2 months, and 18 days old. Only Jack Quinn (45 years) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (41 yrs., 7 mos., 13 days) were older when they started World Series games. Clemens was also only the sixth pitcher with 300 or more wins to start a World Series game. In fact, Clemens and Steve Carlton are the only two pitchers to have 300 wins at the time of a World Series start in the past 80 years.

Pitcher		         Team	                  300th Win		World Series

Cy Young Boston (A.L.) 7/6/1901 1903
Christy Mathewson New York (N.L.) 7/5/1912 1912, 1913
Walter Johnson Washington (A.L.) 5/29/1920 1924, 1925
Grover Alexander St. Louis (N.L.) 9/20/1924 1926, 1928
Steve Carlton Philadelphia (N.L.) 9/23/1983 1983
Roger Clemens New York (A.L.) 6/13/2003 2003

Prior to The Rocket's start in Game Four, only nine members of the Hall of Fame appeared in their final game as an active player in the World Series. The only pitcher to accomplish that feat was Sandy Koufax, the starting and losing pitcher in Game Two of the 1966 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.

Player		         Team		         Year

Frank Baker New York (A.L.) 1922
Travis Jackson New York (N.L.) 1936
Bill Terry New York (N.L.) 1936
Joe DiMaggio New York (A.L.) 1951
Johnny Mize New York (A.L.) 1953
Jackie Robinson Brooklyn (N.L.) 1956
Sandy Koufax Los Angeles (N.L.) 1966
Eddie Mathews Detroit (A.L.) 1968
Willie Mays New York (N.L.) 1973

No Joshing

From a Josh Beckett questionnaire in 1999:

Major leaguer I admire most: "Curt Schilling (Philadelphia Phillies) and Roger Clemens (New York Yankees). I know we are in different leagues, but we're the same kind of pitchers. I don't consider myself them yet, but I think I can get there."

Yes, indeed.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com

Friday, October 17, 2003
 

...And Then There Were Two

2003 World Series Preview

Florida Marlins vs. New York Yankees


The fourth and final leg of the season...Youth and speed vs. experience and power...The hottest team vs. the team with the most wins during the regular season and postseason combined...Home field advantage goes to the Yankees, thanks to Hank Blalock's game-winning home run in the All-Star game...The Yankees have won 26 titles in their storied franchise...The Marlins are trying to win the team's second title in its 11-year history...Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams are seeking their fifth World Series ring in the last eight years...Jack McKeon, 72, is the oldest manager to lead a team into the World Series...The Marlins have a chance to become the first team since the 1914 Miracle Braves to win a World Series after being 10 games below .500...Including the postseason, Florida is 79-46 since hitting bottom on May 23...The Marlins and Yankees each used three starting pitchers in Game 7 of their league championship series, including the first relief appearance of Mike Mussina's career after 400 regular and postseason starts...New York is 8-6 vs. Florida in interleague play, but the last time these teams met in 2001 Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, and Dontrelle Willis were barely out of high school and Ivan Rodriguez was donning his catcher's gear in Texas...Let's play ball!

SCHEDULE

#1	Sat	Oct-18	at NY	8:06 PM EST	Penny vs. Wells

#2 Sun Oct-19 at NY 8:00 PM EST Redman vs. Pettitte
#3 Tue Oct-21 at FLA 8:32 PM EST Mussina vs. Beckett
#4 Wed Oct-22 at FLA 8:24 PM EST Clemens vs. TBD
#5 Thu Oct-23 at FLA 8:24 PM EST TBD
#6 Sat Oct-25 at NY 7:55 PM EST TBD
#7 Sun Oct-26 at NY 8:00 PM EST TBD


2003 TEAM TOTALS

Hitting Totals:

	G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	BB	SO	SB	CS

Marlins 162 5490 751 1459 292 44 157 515 978 150 74
Yankees 163 5605 877 1518 304 14 230 684 1042 98 33

Rate Stats:

	BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Marlins .266 .333 .421 .754
Yankees .271 .356 .453 .810

Pitching Totals:

	G	W	L	Sv	IP	H	ER	HR	BB	SO

Marlins 162 91 71 36 1445 1415 648 128 530 1132
Yankees 163 101 61 49 1462 1512 653 145 375 1119

Rate Stats:

	H/9	K/9	WHIP	ERA

Marlins 8.81 7.05 1.35 4.04
Yankees 9.31 6.89 1.29 4.02


A position-by-position breakdown follows:


CATCHER



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Rodriguez 144 511 90 152 36 3 16 85 55 92 10 6
Posada 142 481 83 135 24 0 30 101 93 110 2 4

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Rodriguez .297 .369 .474 .843
Posada .281 .405 .518 .922

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Rodriguez .333 .434 .600 1.034
Posada .250 .298 .432 .730

Two of the best catchers in baseball. Posada walks more often and has better home run power. Rodriguez, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, is superior defensively and is swinging the bat as well as anyone heading into the World Series.

Edge: Even.



FIRST BASE



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Lee 155 539 91 146 31 2 31 92 88 131 21 8
Johnson 96 324 60 92 19 0 14 47 70 57 5 2

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Lee .271 .379 .508 .888
Johnson .284 .422 .472 .894

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Lee .208 .283 .333 .616
Johnson .179 .289 .308 .597

Derrek Lee and Nick Johnson are both struggling in the postseason, but Lee is the more productive all-round player at this point in their careers. Lee runs better than Johnson and is one of the best defensive first basemen in the game. Johnson's only discernible edge is his ability to get on base via walks. Lee hits lefthanders well (1.062 OPS) and could be a key batsman vs. David Wells and Andy Pettitte after having not faced any lefties in the Chicago series. Johnson may be replaced by Jason Giambi at first base in games three, four, and five at Florida when the designated hitter will not be in force.

Edge: Marlins.


SECOND BASE



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Castillo 152 595 99 187 19 6 6 39 63 60 21 19
Soriano 156 682 114 198 36 5 38 91 38 130 35 8

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Castillo .314 .381 .397 .778
Soriano .290 .338 .525 .863

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Castillo .244 .358 .333 .692
Soriano .224 .255 .265 .520

Alfonso Soriano's superior power makes up for his inferior on base ability. On the other hand, Luis Castillo is unquestionably a better defensive player than Soriano. Both players run well, but Soriano's stolen base percentage (81.3%) is substantially higher than Castillo's (52.5%). Neither player has enjoyed a strong postseason with Soriano's lack of plate discipline (17 Ks with only one BB) getting the better of him in the ALDS and ALCS.

Edge: Yankees.


SHORTSTOP



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Gonzalez 150 528 52 135 33 6 18 77 33 106 0 4
Jeter 119 482 87 156 25 3 10 52 43 88 11 5

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Gonzalez .256 .313 .443 .756
Jeter .324 .393 .450 .844

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Gonzalez .100 .122 .150 .272
Jeter .295 .380 .477 .857

Alex Gonzalez gives the Marlins the upper hand in the field although Jeter provides the Yankees a similar advantage offensively. Jeter's World Series experience (2000 WS MVP) and baserunning skills tilts the table in his favor. Gonzalez has been an out machine at the plate in the postseason (4-for-40 with 9 Ks and one BB) and is unlikely to find the going any easier against the strong Yankees staff.

Edge: Yankees.


THIRD BASE



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Lowell 130 492 76 136 27 1 32 105 56 78 3 1
Boone 160 592 92 158 32 3 24 96 46 104 23 3

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Lowell .276 .350 .530 .881
Boone .267 .327 .453 .780

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Lowell .174 .269 .435 .704
Boone .188 .235 .313 .548

Mike Lowell and Aaron Boone have only been shells of their former selves and a resurgence by either could prove decisive in the World Series. Boone's ALCS-winning home run and Lowell's pair of homers in the NLCS after missing the last month of the regular season with a broken left hand could give them a boost in confidence on the eve of the Series.

Edge: Marlins.


LEFT FIELD



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Conine 149 577 88 163 36 3 20 95 50 70 5 0
Matsui 163 623 82 179 42 1 16 106 63 86 2 2

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Conine .282 .338 .459 .797
Matsui .287 .353 .435 .788

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Conine .385 .447 .538 .985
Matsui .293 .333 .463 .797

Jeff Conine and Hideki Matsui had similar counting and rate stats during the regular season. Matsui may rate ahead of Conine defensively although the latter has been a pleasant surprise in the field during the playoffs. Conine's late-season acquisition has already paid dividends for the Marliins, and it should give the team much-needed depth in New York when the DH will be in use.

Edge: Even.


CENTER FIELD



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Pierre 162 668 100 204 28 7 1 41 55 35 65 20
Williams 119 445 77 117 19 1 15 64 71 61 5 0

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Pierre .305 .361 .373 .734
Williams .263 .367 .411 .778

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Pierre .288 .327 .404 .731
Williams .268 .354 .341 .696

Williams carries a better stick than Juan Pierre, but he is not nearly as valuable as he once was. Pierre is much more dangerous on the basepaths although this advantage has been overplayed by the media. Pierre covers slightly more ground in center but neither has what could be called a good arm.

Edge: Even.


RIGHT FIELD



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Cabrera 87 314 39 84 21 3 12 62 25 84 0 2
Garcia 76 244 25 64 6 0 11 35 14 52 0 2
Rivera 57 173 22 46 14 0 7 26 10 27 0 0

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Cabrera .268 .325 .468 .793
Garcia .262 .302 .422 .724
Rivera .266 .304 .468 .773

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Cabrera .318 .375 .568 .943
Garcia .250 .368 .250 .618
Rivera .286 .333 .286 .619

OK, I will say it here first. Cabrera might be the best player on either team. I don't mean down the road. I mean right now. The 20-year-old is oozing with talent and is getting better everyday. I would not be surprised one bit if Cabrera were the MVP of the Series. In fact, his play in the postseason thus far is reminiscent of Andruw Jones and Francisco Rodriguez when these players made themselves nationally known when thrust onto center stage at a similar age. Karim Garcia and Juan Rivera will platoon with the former starting against RHP and the latter vs. LHP.

Edge: Marlins.


DESIGNATED HITTER



2003 Totals:

		G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	BB	SO	SB	CS

Encarnacion 156 601 80 162 37 6 19 94 37 82 19 8
Giambi 156 535 97 134 25 0 41 107 129 140 2 1

2003 Rate Stats:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Encarnacion .270 .313 .446 .759
Giambi .250 .412 .527 .939

2003 Postseason:
		BA	OBP	SLG	OPS

Encarnacion .185 .241 .444 .686
Giambi .238 .333 .500 .833

Jason Giambi's productivity at the plate (1st in the A.L. in walks, 4th in HR, and 7th in OPS) far outsurpasses Juan Encarnacion's more pedestrian rate stats, giving the Yankees a huge edge in games one and two and perhaps six and seven when the DH will be in effect. Giambi is one of the few "difference makers" on either side and how he handles Beckett in their power vs. power confrontations will be extremely important and entertaining.

Edge: Yankees.


STARTING PITCHERS



2003 Totals:

	G	GS	CG	IP	H	R	ER	HR	BB	SO	W	L	ERA

Penny 32 32 0 196.1 195 96 90 21 56 138 14 10 4.13
Willis 27 27 2 160.2 148 61 59 13 58 142 14 6 3.30
Beckett 24 23 0 142 132 54 48 9 56 152 9 8 3.04
Redman 29 29 3 190.2 172 82 76 16 61 151 14 9 3.59

2003 Rate Stats:
	K/9	K/BB	 AVG	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS

Penny 6.33 2.46 .264 .313 .426 .739
Willis 7.95 2.45 .245 .313 .385 .698
Beckett 9.63 2.71 .246 .316 .352 .668
Redman 7.13 2.48 .239 .297 .363 .660




2003 Totals:

	G	GS	CG	IP	H	R	ER	HR	BB	SO	W	L	ERA

Wells 31 30 4 213 242 101 98 24 20 101 15 7 4.14
Mussina 31 31 2 214.2 192 86 81 21 40 195 17 8 3.40
Pettitte 33 33 1 208.1 227 109 93 21 50 180 21 8 4.02
Clemens 33 33 1 211.2 199 99 92 24 58 190 17 9 3.91

2003 Rate Stats:
	K/9	K/BB	 AVG	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS

Wells 4.27 5.05 .286 .304 .442 .746
Mussina 8.18 4.88 .238 .275 .372 .647
Pettitte 7.78 3.60 .272 .310 .402 .713
Clemens 8.08 3.28 .247 .298 .396 .694

The starting four for each side are about as good as it gets in all of baseball. Although only 23, Beckett is the best of the bunch and the most likely starter to single handedly dominate the opposition. Conversely, Brad Penny is probably the weakest of the eight--at least based on his recent performances. The Marlin pitchers have more upside and the Yankees staff is more dependable.

Edge: Even.


BULLPEN



2003 Totals:

	G	IP	H	R	ER	HR	BB	SO	W	L	Sv	ERA

Urbina 72 77 56 25 24 8 31 78 3 4 32 2.81
Looper 74 80.2 82 34 33 4 29 56 6 4 28 3.68
Rivera 64 70.2 61 15 13 3 10 63 5 2 40 1.66
Nelson 70 55.1 51 25 23 4 24 68 4 2 8 3.74

2003 Rate Stats:
	K/9	K/BB	 AVG	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS

Urbina 9.12 2.52 .204 .275 .361 .637
Looper 6.25 1.93 .264 .323 .363 .686
Rivera 8.02 6.30 .235 .271 .300 .571
Nelson 11.06 2.83 .248 .329 .350 .679

The Marlins have no one in the bullpen with Mariano Rivera's talent or experience. Braden Looper and Jeff Nelson offset each other, while Carl Pavano and Jose Contreras give each club a solid long or middle reliever or even a fifth starter, if need be.

Edge: Yankees.

Summary: The hitting edge goes to the Yankees. The defensive edge goes to the Marlins. And the pitching is relatively even.

Prediction: New York in seven. The Yankees warrant a slight edge due to the team's World Series experience, home field advantage, and Mariano Rivera.

Richard Lederer
Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT
www.baseballbeat.blogspot.com


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