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There was some discussion this weekend about Boston’s pitchers, and how Josh Beckett, the nominal ace of the Red Sox staff, really wasn’t the ace–and the fact that almost everyone who follows baseball would agree that Jon Lester has taken over this role.

So that got me wondering: what, exactly, designates an ace?

It can’t only be one factor, but a combination of such–the question is, which ones?

Would sabermaticians include ERA or the gutting-out-of-starts-when-you-have nothing in their designations? Or would they rely purely on peripherals such as strike out rates and strike out/walk ratios? What of a pitcher such as Rich Harden, who’s shown a propensity for striking out everyone and everything–but only when he’s not getting hurt in the process.

Of course, labelling someone an “Ace” is an exercise in semantics; useful for someone such as CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee in their contract negotiations, but not so much Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks.

So, what do you think?

What begets the label of “Ace”? Does anyone currently pitching for the Yanks qualify given your parameters?

I look forward to reading your comments.

4 Responses to “On the Aces, and Calling Of Such”

  1. In my mind an Ace is the pitcher you want on the mound for that “must win” game.

    In terms of a stat I would like to see a stat similar to the quality start stat called “Dominant start” – it would be 7 innings of no runs or eight plus innings of one run. I’ld bet calculating the leaders of this stat would get us our Aces.  (Quote)

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  2. How about 220-240 IP, 200+ K’s ERA <3.25, K/W around 3/1?  (Quote)

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  3. Teams best SP
    Workhouse
    Consistently 5+ WAR pitcher
    Sub 3.5 FIP  (Quote)

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  4. Every team has their best starter and is entitled to an ace as far as I am concerned, so in that sense a #1 pitcher is an ace.

    But in baseball circles, ace (or #2 or #3) applies to championship caliber rotations. So even though someone like Phil Hughes would be the best pitcher on a number of teams, the “ace” if you will, he would probably be referred to as a #2 by baseball people because he is probably not quite good enough to lead a WS winning staff.  (Quote)

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