Is David Price Good? Let’s End the Debate…

This is an extremely touchy subject among Red Sox fans for some reason, and I’m getting  sick and tired of seeing this debate every time I open Twitter. So without further adieu, here is an in-depth analysis of David Price (as a Red Sox pitcher) to finally answer whether or not he is a good pitcher.

This is Price’s third season with the Sox, but when did the controversy about his value begin? It was during his second season, when he spent much of his time on the DL with arm problems, throwing just 74.2 innings in 16 games (11 started). That’s when the “David Price isn’t good” takes began surfacing because of his massive salary and no playing time.

Despite the injuries, Price still posted a 3.38 ERA and a 1.192 WHIP in 2017, which are excellent stats for someone dealing with constant injuries. He averaged 8 hits, 1 homer, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts per 9 innings. For someone who was the number two starter, and later a reliever to ease the pressure on his arm, these stats are solid. To put it into perspective, Chris Sale posted a 2.90 ERA and a 0.970 WHIP, while averaging 6 hits, 0.6 homers, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts. These numbers are not as far off as some people would like to think, considering David Price was hurt and Chris Sale is Chris Sale.

Now let’s take a look at 2016, Price’s first year in Boston when he was the ace of the staff. In 35 starts, he had a 3.99 ERA and a 1.204 WHIP while averaging 9 hits, 1.2 homers, 2 walks, and 9 strikeouts over 9 innings. While his ERA was slightly higher in 2016 than it was in 2017, his numbers remained fairly consistent. Despite this solid showing, he was still looked at like a bad signing, which is due in part to Red Sox having the 2016 Cy Young winner on their staff in Rick Porcello.

Let’s compare stats to see how far off Price was from being a Cy Young winner instead of looked down upon. Porcello had a 3.15 ERA (0.84 lower), 1.009 WHIP (0.195 lower), averaged 8 hits (1 lower), 0.9 homers (0.3 lower), 1.3 walks (0.7 lower), and 7.6 strikeouts (1.4 less). These seasons are nearly identical and Price should’ve been at least in the running for Cy Young, but the issue here was the win-loss record. Porcello’s 22-4 vs. Price’s 17-9 is quite a ways off, but with the stats being so similar, it’s not Price’s fault he didn’t receive run support in close games and was credited with a loss. The most overrated pitching staff in baseball turned David Price into the fall guy for Red Sox nation when things didn’t go right.

Back to present day, where Price so far this season has a 3.97 ERA, 1.218 WHIP and is averaging 8.3 hits, 1.3 homers, 2.6 walks, and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Every statistic is nearly the same as the previous two years. So much for Price being inconsist, huh?

Thanks to my good friend Andrew Tashian (follow him at @Tashville401 on Twitter), here are closer looks at 2018 Red Sox games where David Price earned a loss:

  • April 11: 4 ER, left injured, Sox lost 10-7.
  • April 22: 4 ER, Sox lost 4-1.
  • April 28: 6 R/5 ER, Sox scored 5 runs while he was in and lost 12-6.
  • May 3: 7 ER, Sox scored 3 while he was in and lost 11-5.
  • June 20: 3 ER, Sox scored 1 while he was in and lost 4-1.
  • July 1: 8 ER, Sox lost 11-1.

Clearly his two worst starts were May 3 and July 1, when he gave up 7 and 8 earned runs to the Yankees and Rangers, respectively. While he pitched lousy in those game, he gave the team a chance to win in every other game. Price has just two losses since May 4 (The Fourth is Strong with this One). As a number 2 or 3 starter on this strong Red Sox team, there is ZERO reason that any fan should have a problem with David Price. The numbers clearly show that Price has been consistent and extremely valuable to the rotation, rendering this entire argument invalid.

The final argument anti-Price Red Sox fans love to bring up is his inability to pitch in the playoffs. While I’ll agree that he has certainly struggled, both Chris Sale and Rick Porcello have as well. Why not demonize them or call for them to be removed from the rotation? The reason is one word: money. Although Sale is a top five pitcher in the game and Porcello is a Cy Young winner, they don’t make the money that Price makes. However, less money shouldn’t excuse poor performance from pitchers of that pedigree. If you want to be mad at someone about Price’s contract, be mad at Dave Dombrowski.

Time to face the facts people. David Price is a good, consistent pitcher who has proven that he’s deserving of our praise as Red Sox fans. The people who think David Price sucks are the people who look at his relationship with the media and his tendency to get hurt. They use those two factors to fuel their terrible takes on Twitter. Whether you like it or not, the stats show that… DAVID PRICE IS GOOD!!!

Photo: Sports Illustrated

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