Thursday, January 7, 2010
Jon Lester 2010: Best Pitcher in AL?
I think it's probably finally time for me to admit it: yes, Jon Lester is better than Clay Buccholz, and probably will continue to be better. I was wrong. Actually, Lester is better than pretty much everyone. His peripheral numbers were very similar to Tim Lincecum...but in the much tougher American League. I think an argument could be made that he was the best pitcher in the AL last year, as he made a tremendous jump in strikeout rate (from 2008 K/9 of 6.50 to 2009 K/9 of 9.96), maintained his good control (BB/9: 2.83) and maintained his excellent groundball rate (47.7%). Normally, I'd be very wary of that huge jump in strikeout, and expect some regression. However, this article points out that on average, Lester's fastball was substantially faster in 2009 than in 2008, suggesting that the drastic increase may represent a real improvement that he can maintain in 2010.