Let's play the comp game -
Year 1- 25 starts, 141 ip, 155h, 4.85 era (92 ERA+), 1.461 whip
Year 2 - 30 starts, 192 ip, 182h, 2.86 era (146 ERA+), 1.219 whip
Year 1 - 29 starts, 178 ip, 194h, 4.55 era (103 ERA+), 1.433 whip
Year 2 - 32 starts, 222 ip, 217 h, 3.41 era (144 ERA+), 1.252 whip
Year 1 - 33 starts, 204 ip, 191h, 5.01 era (95 ERA+), 1.295 whip
Year 2 - 30 starts, 200 ip, 189 h, 3.27 ERA (145 ERA+), 1.141 whip
It's tough to tell the 3 pitchers apart, no? Each had a bad year followed by an excellent year. Each had eras league average or worse, followed by dominant eras the next.
Pitcher A - Kevin Millwood
Pitcher B - Charles Nagy
Pitcher C - Josh Beckett
If I had a penny for everytime I read about Josh Beckett being the standard for an "Ace" this offseason, I could retire a rich man. For his career, Beckett's ERA+
Good year, bad year, pretty much all the way through.
Beckett has pitched extremely well in the postseason - these performances, though, happen to coincide with his 2 best overall years when he sported ERA+ of 138 and 145.
History is littered with pitchers who had exceptional years, but were unable to find the consistency of a true Ace - Javy Vazquez, Jeff Weaver, Esteban Loaiza, Jaime Navarro are just a few.
Is Beckett the next Jeff Weaver or Jaime Navarro? or is he a becoming a true Ace? While I am certainly not looking to call him Esteban Loaiza, I believe it's way too early to be annointing him the standard to which all pitchers aspire.