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.