John Tomase of the Boston Herald has some bad news for Sox fans who are counting on Josh Beckett bouncing back in 2011:
Virtually every pitcher to struggle like Beckett did last season not only was never the same, but almost to a man failed to produce a single, solitary above-average season thereafter. …
… Thanks to the magic of baseball-reference.com, it was easy to sort for pitchers in their 30s who posted ERAs above 5.75 while pitching at least 125 innings. The search returned 69 such seasons by 66 different pitchers … Of those 66 pitchers, only three managed to regain something even remotely approximating their form, at least as starters.
One small quibble: Baseball-Reference.com isn’t magic. It’s unadulterated genius. Otherwise: whoa. Tomase acknowledges that such results don’t mean that Beckett can’t buck it. But it does show that hardly anyone ever does. Whether a pitcher Beckett simply ages quickly or whether he stumbles because of injury, bouncing back is exceedingly uncommon.