Our next piece in the ongoing look back at the 2013 season continues with Erik Bedard, free agent extraordinaire.
Seriously, did anyone expect Erik Bedard to make it to the end of the season with Houston? I sure didn't. I even said as much in his season preview that's quoted below. And yet...
Thanks to the people on our Facebook page for suggesting Bedard. I almost did Obiehockey instead, but we didn't preview him, so it would have been harder. You know TCB. Our motto is "If it's hard, we do something else." We'll be soliciting names for the next hitter at the beginning of next week. Anyways, onto the review.
What we said
Bad news, you're back to me doing these season previews. Here's what I said about Bedard's overall season outlook. Hint: it was not rosy.
Best case scenario is that Bedard goes out and gives the Astros 10 solid starts to begin the season. At that point, they can either trade him for prospects, but if he gets hurt instead of dealt, that'd give guys like Brett Oberholtzer or Paul Clemens or even Jarred Cosart enough time to develop at Oklahoma City before being thrown to the American League wolves.
Could I have been more underwhelmed? I could try, but I would not be successful.
What they projected
Because of injuries and a shortened 2012 season, Bedard's projections were all over the map:
Bill James at least thinks Bedard will bounce back in a positive way. Though James only projects him to start 17 games and throw 95 total innings, he's got Bedard with a respectable 3.85 ERA and 92 strikeouts with 40 walks. That adds up to an FIP of 3.79 and slightly lower walk rates than he had last season.
According to the Steamer projections over at FanGraphs, Bedard is set to throw 126 innings with a 7.56 K per nine rate, 3.57 walks per nine, a 4.13 ERA and a 3.92 FIP. Combined with a very low .287 BABiP, it looks like Bedard would be a great addition to the Astros rotation by these standards. That's close to what he did in 2011, when he was worth two wins. Only one pitcher on Houston's staff last season was worth more than two wins.
One more set of projections, thanks to the Oliver system over at FanGraphs. They show Bedard throwing 100 innings with a 4.06 ERA, 8.48 K/9 rate, 3.61 BB/9 rate with a .301 BABiP and an FIP of 3.71. The Oliver projections also show Left On Base Percentage, which rebounds back up to 71.3 percent.
Notice how 120 innings was the top of the mark on these. Even at their most optimistic, none of the projection systems saw Bedard staying completely healthy and in the rotation all year.
What he did
Which makes what he did all that more amazing. Bedard easily beat his expectations for this season by tossing 150 innings with an ERA of 4.59 and an FIP of 4.38. His strikeout rate lowered slightly and his walk rate jumped a bit, but overall, his peripherals held up.
Bedard went back and forth from the bullpen and the rotation, just like any good fifth starter would. In fact, he performed exactly as well as a fifth starter could be expected. He did things Jason Vargas has for the past three seasons and Houston picked him up for a song.
When all the injuries hit Houston's starting pitcher depth, Bedard steadied the ship. For that reason and that reason alone, he gets points and exceeded expectations last year. He wasn't great; he wasn't bad. He was just what Houston needed in that moment.