Over the entire season, we are looking back at the 2007 Red Sox on their tenth anniversary. Today, we’re going to take a quick look back at the incredible season had by that team’s ace: Josh Beckett.
The story of Beckett’s Red Sox career starts a year before that season even began. The organization was looking for a kickstart heading into the 2006 season and made one of the biggest trades in recent franchise history. Boston sent a slew of prospects headed by Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to Miami (or, Florida, at the time) in exchange for Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota. That first year in Boston didn’t quite go as planned for Beckett, with the righty struggling like so many pitchers have in their first year at Fenway. He’d finish the 2006 season with a 5.01 ERA and a 5.12 FIP. For what it’s worth, he did have a 3.09 DRA, but that hardly would have been a consolation if we had known it at the time.
So, Beckett entered 2007 with the need to bounce back and get Red Sox fans back on his side. He was able to do that, to say the least. After a lackluster first outing in which he only allowed one run but had to work around plenty of baserunners, the righty in his age-27 season bounced back in a big way. He’d finish April with a 2.48 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of an even 4.00. And it only got better from there.
By the end of the first half, he had built himself back to being one of the best pitchers in the league. At the All-Star break, Beckett boasted a 3.44 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 21 walks in 102 innings, earning himself his first career appearance in the All-Star Game.
Things got even better after that, as he pitched to a 3.10 ERA with 102 strikeouts and 19 walks in 98 2⁄3 innings. That included a September with a K/BB ratio of an even 6.00, his best of any month. He had only one month in the season with an ERA above 4.00, proving consistently solid all year.
By the end of the season, he had the most impressive statline he’d ever produced in his entire career. Beckett won 20 games over the entire season, including a streak in which he got a win in each of his first seven starts. Only five other Red Sox pitchers had ever achieved that feat. Obviously, wins aren’t the most reliable stat, but this streak was a nice way to remind people both how great Beckett was and how well the team around him played all year. Along with his league-leading 20 wins, he also had a 3.27 ERA, a league-leading 3.08 FIP and a career-best 2.32 DRA. Only CC Sabathia — then with Cleveland — could hold Beckett back from winning the Cy Young in that season.
His regular season was phenomenal, and by the time the playoffs rolled around the righty was back in the good graces of the fan base. Boston has a reputation for being a tough town to play in, but the city has proven time and time again that most of the time you will be forgiven for a poor season if it’s followed up with a strong one. And Beckett hadn’t even completed the best part of the journey.
Somehow, he was able to take his game to another level when the postseason started. Beckett made four postseason starts that October and was phenomenal in each of them. He threw a complete game shutout in Game One of the ALDS, striking out eight Angels without allowing a walk. Game One of the ALCS against Cleveland would be his worst start of that playoff run, and it wasn’t at all bad. In the outing, Beckett allowed two runs in six innings on. He’d come right back in Game Five and allow just one run in eight innings while striking out eleven, the second time he’d recorded that many punchouts in a playoff start. That series, of course, ended up going seven games, and Beckett took home the series MVP. After allowing just one run in seven innings in Game One of the World Series, his postseason was done with a 1.20 ERA and 35 strikeouts to just two walks in 30 innings of work. It was the stuff of legends.
We all know by now that Beckett’s Red Sox career wouldn’t end well. The next few years included a roller coaster of performances. His overall numbers with the team are solid, but he wasn’t the consistent, year-to-year ace fans were hoping for. Finally, in 2012 he was looking as bad as ever and he’d be included in the famous Nick Punto trade with the Dodgers. In addition to his performance, his reputation around Boston was at an all-time low as well.
After that deal, Beckett’s name has turned into a dirty word in the city. He was involved in the infamous chicken and beer scandal that coincided with the horrible collapse in 2011. Unfortunately, the end of his run in Boston has washed over how amazing he was in 2007. To look back at a career, you need to include the full picture, so Beckett will always have to live down 2011 and 2012. Still, with what he did in 2007, he deserves some good will from this fan base, especially as we celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the championship.