Boston Red Sox: David Price vows to win fans over

Sep 27, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin (26) during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) reacts after giving up a two-run home run to New York Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin (26) during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

David Price intends to bounce back from a disappointing debut season with the Boston Red Sox to live up to his contract and win fans over in 2017.

David Price knows that he failed to live up to expectations in his first season wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform.

It doesn’t matter that those expectations were unreasonably high after he signed a $217 million deal to fill the gaping hole at the front of Boston’s rotation. Price was brought here to be an ace, but many feel that his numbers fell short of that elite level. They will point to his 3.99 ERA, the highest Price has recorded since he was a rookie in 2009, as evidence that 2016 was not a successful season for a pitcher of his caliber.

The Red Sox won the AL East to return to the postseason for the first time in three years, but this still won’t be viewed as a successful season. Not after the Red Sox were swept in the Division Series by the Cleveland Indians. An otherwise fantastic season ended in bitter disappointment, making the year a failure in the eyes of a franchise with a championship or bust mentality.

Price knows all this and is willing to take responsibility for his part in the Red Sox coming up short, but he remains as determined as ever to prove that he can still be the pitcher we expected him to be.

"“I want to make these fans love me and I have six more years to get it done,” Price told reporters on Tuesday, per the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley.“I’ll be ready next year, I promise you that.”"

His apologetic words are essentially asking Red Sox Nation for another chance, but does Price really have anything to be forgiven for?

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The inflated ERA is surprising, but primarily the result of a rough start to his tenure in Boston. Price carried a brutal 6.75 ERA after seven starts to begin the season, by which point frustrated fans were ready to run him out of town. From May 12 through the end of the regular season, Price owned a 3.38 ERA that is only slightly above his career average. Basically, after he settled down into his new environment he turned into the pitcher he has always been.

Price still won 17 games and led the league with 230 innings pitched, admirably filling the workhorse requirement of the ace mantel. He was fourth in the league with 228 strikeouts, giving him an 8.92 K/9 rate that is a bit above his career average. His 4.56 K/BB ratio was fifth best and well above his career average. Look beyond the ERA and you’ll find Price actually was among the best pitchers in the league.

Perhaps his first season in Boston wasn’t quite as bad as we thought, yet the lasting impression we have is of Price letting us down in Game 2 of the ALDS. When the Red Sox needed their high-priced ace to step up to even the series in Cleveland, he responded with a dud performance – five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. The loss dropped Price to 0-8 as a starter in his postseason career and increased his ERA to 5.54 over 66 2/3 postseason innings.

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The postseason results are disappointing, but is that a reason to give up on him by labeling Price a bust after one season in Boston? He has yet to win in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t shown the ability to pitch well in October. He has four quality starts in the postseason, including an eight inning gem in 2014 in which he allowed only two runs in a 2-1 hard luck loss. He’s had his fair share of meltdowns, but the narrative that Price can’t perform in the playoffs is rubbish.

Price’s lack of success isn’t a sign that he crumbles under pressure. Pitching in the postseason is hard! Teams that make it to this stage typically have strong offenses. Price had to face the Indians in Cleveland, where the Tribe ranked second in the league in runs scored at home this season.

Clayton Kershaw is widely considered to be the best pitcher on the planet over the past several years. What did he do in his lone postseason start so far this year? He lasted only five innings, allowing three runs for an unappealing 5.40 ERA. Oh, he also has a losing record and 4.65 career postseason ERA. So clearly we wouldn’t ever want to see Kershaw in a Red Sox uniform, right? Please.

Max Scherzer, a potential Cy Young award winner this season, owns a 6.00 ERA this postseason. Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels and Aaron Sanchez all have an ERA north of 9.00. Even the best pitchers in baseball can have an off night, which only gets magnified under the bright lights of October. They can’t all be Madison Bumgarner.

Next: Letter to David Ortiz

Despite a bitter ending to this season, Price remains an elite pitcher worthy of being called an ace. Some fans may not appreciate that now, but he’ll get another opportunity to win them over next year.