Beckett, Peavy, or Prior

John Kruk recently listed his top 25 and under players in the major leagues, and said he'd take Josh Beckett over Jake Peavy and Mark Prior because his stuff is better. Since John Kruk once wanted to vote for Chone Figgings for AL MVP, I'm going to analyze this situation because I can never take him seriously again (not that I did much before). I think Peavy would be my choice from the three, so let's compare those two:

Josh Beckett
2002
ERA: 4.10
IP: 107.7
K/BB: 113/44 (2.57)
K/PA: .249
K/9: 9.45
BB/9: 3.68
HR/9: 1.09

2003
ERA: 3.04
IP: 142.0
K/BB: 152/56 (2.71)
K/PA: .253
K/9: 9.63
BB/9: 3.55
HR/9: .570

2004
ERA: 3.79
IP: 156.7
K/BB: 152/54 (2.81)
K/PA: .232
K/9: 8.73
BB/9: 2.97
HR/9: .919

2005
ERA: 2.58
IP: 76.7
K/BB: 72/29 (2.48)
K/PA: .234
K/9: 8.45
BB/9: 3.40
HR/9: .235

If you notice, all of Beckett's peripherals are actually worse or roughly the same as in 2004, except for his homerun rate, which fell dramatically. So Beckett has not progressed in any way besides cutting the long ball out of his game; if he starts giving it up again, expect it to look like 2004 again. Which brings me to Jake Peavy:

Jake Peavy
2002
ERA: 4.52
IP: 97.7
K/BB: 2.73
K/PA: .209
K/9: 8.29
BB/9: 3.04
HR/9: 1.01

2003
ERA: 4.11
IP: 194.7
K/BB: 156/82 (1.90)
K/PA: .188
K/9: 7.21
BB/9: 3.79
HR/9: 1.53

2004
ERA: 2.27
IP: 166.3
K/BB: 173/53 (3.26)
K/PA: .249
K/9: 9.36
BB/9: 2.87
HR/9: .704

2005
ERA: 2.37
IP: 76.0
K/BB: 6.00
K/PA: .266
K/9: 9.24
BB/9: 1.54
HR/9: .592

From Peavy, what we see is improvement in 2004. He cut down his homerun rate by half, improved his walk and strikeout rates greatly, and won the ERA title (although that does not mean as much as it sounds like it does sometimes). This year his homerun rate has improved even more, his walk rate has cut down considerably, and his K/BB has shot up to 6.00, which is tremendous. Peavy is also younger than Beckett. Beckett is 25 now, while Peavy is 24. Here we have a pitcher establishing a track record of greatness at an early age in Peavy while Beckett is just getting started (even though he is better known) now that he has cut down his homerun rate. Just for kicks, lets look at their career value thus far using WARP1:

Peavy WARP1
 2002: 2.0
 2003: 4.2
 2004: 7.5
 2005: 2.6

Career: 16.3

Beckett WARP1
 2001: 1.1
 2002: 1.8
 2003: 4.8
 2004: 3.6
 2005: 2.7

Career: 14.0

Peavy's career thus far has been greater in less time, and he is younger, and farther along, etc. Besides using "leadership" and "clutch pitching abilities" in the World Series, I have no idea where Kruk got the idea of taking Beckett over Peavy. Then again, I don't know where the hell he gets 95% of his ideas. Vote for your favorite in the poll in the entry link.

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