With the offseason nearly over, (88 days until opening day, but who’s counting?) it’s time to start getting excited about your upcoming 2016 World Series champion Boston Red Sox. More specifically, its time to start getting REALLY excited for your future 2016 Cy Young and MVP winner, David Price. The recipient of so much media fanfare over these past few months, the pressure is on Price to deliver a phenomenal year to match his absurd contract payout. It’s hard to justify paying someone $59/minute, but with the Red Sox being such an important piece of Boston’s sports culture, any amount could seem reasonable to the team’s rabid fanbase. It’s always tough to predict how a superstar will do after coming to a new team, but we can make pretty educated guesses based off of how consistent Price has been in years past. Here are my reasons of why I believe Price will have an outstanding first season with the Sox, and why his acquisition will prove to be a catalyst for years of Boston dominance.
Price’s 2015 stats weren’t just good; they were amazing. Hurling his way to an 18-5 record, a 2.45 ERA, 220 innings, and 225 Ks, Price cemented his name among the top tier of pitchers. Although all are impressive numbers, the innings pitched and strikeouts per nine innings (9.2) stuck out the most. Not only was Price a workhorse, seventh in the MLB for IP, but he was still blowing hitters away deep into games. According to Brooks Baseball, Price relied more heavily on his four-seam fastball and sinker late in games, but was able to dig deep and still pump out gas. Here’s a chart on his average velocity on hard pitches (aka any type of fastball) sorted by inning. Notice how consistent the line stays through the 8th:
His fastball has always received praise, with Brooks Baseball saying that it, “…generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, is blazing fast and has slight armside run.” There is nothing wrong with having a steady fastball as the best pitch of his repertoire, and deep in games he can still rely on it for a consistent strike. Even more incredible is the fact that his pitches seem to be getting better every year. His four-seam fastball was clocked faster than his two previous years, as was his sinker and cutter. This is an early indication that he still might not have reached his peak performance, and that the Sox may have landed him at just the right time.
The Red Sox also lucked out by bringing Price back to his stomping grounds, the AL East. Since 2008, Price has kept Orioles hitters to a .266 average, Yankee hitters to .231, Blue Jay hitters to .240, and Tampa Bay hitters to .159. Price has an early advantage of knowing the players he will be facing the most, and the tendencies and quirks of the AL East ballparks. He will also be paired with two extremely smart catchers in Swihart or Vasquez, either one will take his game to the next level. Although he seems ready to take on the AL East, being a Red Sox player and physically playing games is only half the battle. Boston is used to winners, and he will be under intense scrutiny from his first pitch of the season. Players aren’t given much leeway when it comes to performance, just ask previous golden boy turned scapegoat Clay Buchholz about that. However, Price is a gamer, and will thrive under the pressure placed upon him by Red Sox Nation. Not only is Price a great fit for Boston, but a much better choice than the other top tier pitchers.
At the end of the day, Price was one of the best pitchers we saw in 2015, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to perform to the same standard in 2016. His pitching abilities, paired with his compete-first mentality, will live up to the hype as soon as he dawns the red and white and jogs out to the mound for the first time. The only problem I can imagine for Price as he joins the Red Sox is whether or not he has room in his house for all of the hardware he will inevitably pick up in the next few years. Thankfully, it is now Gold Bottles season.