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Josh Beckett isn't the ace he was in 2007, but what about him has changed over the past five seasons?

In 2007, Josh Beckett finished second in the AL Cy Young voting. He led the league with 20 wins. He was a 4.8 PWARP player, good for third in MLB. He struck out 8.7 batters per nine innings and finished with 194 punchouts.

Fast forward to 2012. Beckett’s win-loss record is 5-9; more importantly, his walk rate is up, and his strikeout rate is down. He’s been worth 0.5 PWARP, good for 174th in baseball.

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We hear terms like "projectability" and "60-grade velocity" bandied about, but what do they actually mean? Here's a glimpse at what goes into scouting a pitcher.

If you have ever listened to the BP podcast, you have no doubt heard the always-fedora’d Kevin Goldstein and me identify what we look for in a prospect. Every player is unique, but there are certain attributes that tickle the scouting fancy more than others, whether physical or psychological. While we are recidivistic in our velocity whoring, other factors are at play when evaluating a pitcher, just like evaluating hitters is more complex than watching batting practice power displays. In this long-winded series, I’ll identity what I look for when scouting players on the mound, in the field, and in the box.

Not to get overly existential here, but scouting is a profound philosophical pursuit: Are we looking for enlightenment through the physical exceptionalism of athletes? Is it possible to separate our own deficiencies and insecurities from the process? Does the fact that I used to be quite fast influence my ability to appreciate speed in a lower-level prospect? Does the fact that I once had dreams of being a ballplayer heighten my ability to recognize those who are athletically superior to me, or does my failure create a form of subjective justice that I wield upon those that get to play out my fantasy for a paycheck?

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Examining umpire calling and catcher framing leads to thought-provoking questions about the amorphous nature of the strike zone.

Ever since the PITCHf/x system debuted in the 2006 playoffs, people have been interested in what it says about the strike zone that the umpires call.

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