Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
3) His performance
Woah, boy. I really don’t know where to start with this. Price is literally a stat-nerd’s dream come true. For the sake of brevity, I’ll post some of his notable stats from 2015 and then discuss his pitching more broadly (statistics taken from Fangraphs):
ERA – 2.45, 4th best in MLB, best in the AL
FIP – 2.78, 8th best in MLB, 2nd in the AL
WAR – 6.4, 3rd best in MLB, best in the AL
On top of the above, he finished the year with a glorious K/9 of 9.19 and pitched some 220 innings.
Now, to start with, I’d like to focus on his innings pitched. 220.1 in 2015 is impressive in and of itself, but, when added with the 248.1 he pitched in 2014 (for a total of 468.2 IP) it stands high and mighty as the best in all of baseball. The next closest is Madison Bumgarner on 435.2, much lower overall. Why is this?
Price is the very definition of a workhorse, he threw 9 complete games in 2015 and pitched into the 9th inning in 6 others. Indeed, he probably would have done so in more games had the Blue Jays not elected to limit his innings towards the end of the campaign in preparation for the postseason. Regardless, Price works exceedingly hard and his delivery, while janky and unconventional, is widely touted as being a contributor to his lack of arm issues and overall strong health. With Price, you expect the bullpen to be less taxed and he enters every game intending to finish what he started. With a manager like John Farrell, often criticized for being slow to react to a pitcher’s struggling, this can only be a positive.
Not only does Price soak up a lot of innings, he does so with impressive run prevention. His ERA of 1.95 at Fenway is the best for any pitcher in MLB and much of it came while pitching for the Rays against some really strong Red Sox hitters, 2013 World Series winners included. His WAR for 2015 is much the same as he attained in previous seasons and can be expected to be much the same as what he will attain in Boston. It’s the same teams, in the same parks, that he’s pitching in, after all. That WAR, evidently, is higher than the entire Red Sox pitching staff combined.
Price’s weapon of choice is his fastball and it’s perhaps the best there is. He throws it at around 95 MPH, though it can touch 97, but its velocity paves way for its stunning command and control. He throws it all over the strike zone, picking off the edges and freezing batters in their tracks. This year has seen his changeup appear more frequently (a career high 22% of the time) and it has impressive bite, even despite the rumors he tipped the pitch during the postseason. The changeup and fastball are his two big “out” pitches, but in his arsenal he also commands a curveball and cutter to confuse the opposing batters. Price is a complete pitcher, with everything he needs to get the job done regardless of the team he’s facing.
Price is a dominant, lights out pitcher. The very kind that Boston has lacked since they let Jon Lester walk. And Price is much better than Lester. That’s reason enough to be excited as it is.
Next: Putting it all together