How good is Jon Lester?
Among Lester’s through age 26 top 10 comps at baseball-reference:
- Tim Hudson
- Johan Santana
- Cole Hamels
- Andy Pettitte
- Roy Halladay
- Roy Oswalt
Bill James HOF Standards says he’s the 205th best pitcher of all time – and half way to being an average HOF. Can’t be you say? Consider that since the start of 2008, Lester is in top 10 in the Majors in: in Win Shares, ERA+, Win/Loss%, and K/9 rates. He’s never had a poor year, so his stats like so many others are not diluted by poor years (Beckett and Tiant for two). It should also be noted that he’s having a great start to 2011.
If you examine Red Sox pitchers closely since 1945 Lester is the 5th best pitcher in a Red Sox uniform the past 60 years, behind only:
- Roger Clemens – 74.8 WAR in 2776 IP
- Pedro Martinez 47.6 WAR in 1383 IP
- Luis Tiant – 34.0 WAR in 1774 IP
- Mel Parnell – 29.0 WAR in 1752 IP
- Jon Lester – 19.2 WAR in 797 IP
Lester is better then Schilling, Kinder, Lonborg, Hurst, Boyd, Lee, Lowe, Culp, Beckett, and all the rest. Parnell and Tiant seem to be within reach. Getting into the Clemens/Martinez neighborhood is much more difficult and likely to result in Lester actually being a HOF.
As for me, I was bit by the Lester bug early. I was so excited after his 3rd ML start I proclaimed that he was a HOF’er, if he stayed healthy. The last time I had done that for a Sox farm hand was in 1984 for Roger Clemens. There is no way to know the future, but as Tiant, Clemens, and Martinez before him – Lester can go out and pitch a master piece which is why I try to watch as many of his games as I can. Lester is literally a once in a decade sort of pitcher for the home nine – don’t miss him!