Red Sox not concerned with David Price’s postseason record

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The Lester Factor

Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Fans were furious when the Red Sox were unable to bring Jon Lester back to Boston last winter and their concerns weren’t appeased when the front office shelled out a lot more money for Price than it would have taken to sign Lester a year ago.

Here’s the thing that Lester supporters don’t want to believe. Price is a better pitcher.

Price’s career ERA is nearly half a run lower than Lester’s, his K/9 and K/BB ratios are better, as is his ERA+ and FIP. Price has produced 28.8 WAR since his rookie year in 2009. Since that same year, Lester has produced 27.1 WAR. Price has won a Cy Young and finished as the runner-up twice, along with one other sixth place finish. Lester has never finished higher than 4th in the voting, which he’s done twice in his career. Those are the only times he’s ever finished in the top-10.

Pick almost any stat and you’ll find Price has the edge, leaving little debate who the more dominant pitcher is. This isn’t knock at all on Lester, it’s merely a recognition of how great Price is.

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The one area Lester has the advantage is in the postseason. Red Sox fans adore him for the pair of championship rings he won in Boston, and rightfully so. His 0.42 ERA over 21 innings in the World Series is about as good as it gets, which is another boost to his profile. There’s no doubt that Lester was brilliant during Boston’s two World Series runs in 2007 and 2013, but take a look at his postseason appearances in the other years that his team didn’t win a title. Those outings leave a lot to be desired.

Lester deserves a ton of credit for being essentially unbeatable in the World Series, but it’s not a reason to hold it against Price that he’s never gotten that chance. Price’s only trip to the World Series was when he burst onto the scene as a dominant reliever out of the bullpen for the Tampa Bay Rays. He allowed only one earned run in 3.1 innings, covering two appearances against the eventual champion Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a minuscule sample, but the only sample we have of Price on the game’s biggest stage is pretty good.

Some of Price’s other postseason outings didn’t go so well, but Lester has a few he’d like back as well. There is a certain comfort level with Lester because we’ve won with him before, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win with Price.

Next: Worth the Price