I’m a Red Sox fan, and my relationship with David Price has been troubled. I went crazy in a text message to a friend immediately upon his signing a $217 million contract prior to 2016. In July 2017, as I awoke from surgery, the one thing on my mind was not the medical results, but how annoyed I was with Price. Earlier this year, I admitted to having “a negative thought about David Price every single day.” So it’s with no bias that I say Price deserves the 2018 World Series MVP trophy that went to Steve Pearce.
Price got the ball in Games 2 & 5 and was outstanding both times. He went six strong innings in the second game at Fenway Park and got a 4-2 win. In Game 5, after being staked to an early 2-0 lead by a Pearce home run, Price locked down the Dodger lineup through a middle-inning pitchers’ duel and ultimately completed seven innings. The final numbers showed 13 innings pitched and a 1.98 ERA.
To me, when a starting pitcher has two great outings in a best-of-seven series, he becomes the automatic frontrunner for Series MVP. An important precondition is that the pitcher truly win both starts. If he goes 5 1/3, leaves with two runners on and a 5-3 lead and ends up getting credited with the win, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what Price did and what only a starting pitcher can do—be almost personally responsible for half of the required victories in a series.
The rule isn’t universal. For example, the last time the Red Sox won the World Series, Jon Lester had vintage starts in winning both Games 1 & 5. But David Ortiz was out of his mind at the plate, with a .688 batting average and .760 on-base percentage. That’s surreal and of course it can trump a pitching performance. But it’s not the norm and it’s not what happened this year.
Pearce certainly had a nice Series. He hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 that set the stage for a ninth-inning eruption that virtually sealed it for Boston. Pearce homered two more times in Game 5. He came to the plate 16 times overall and got on base in eight of them.
But his performance was more that of a key subordinate. In the first two games, the offense was driven by Andrew Benintendi (four hits in Game 1 and a .333 Series batting average that led the Red Sox), Mookie Betts (three hits in Game 2) and J.D. Martinez (crucial hit in Game 2, .381 OBP for the Series). Pearce was important and historically significant, but he wasn’t overshadowing this Series from the outset.
David Price was. At the end of the day, the reason the Red Sox are champs is that Price was excellent in his two starts, while Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw was mediocre in both of his. That’s the reason Boston’s getting ready for a parade on Wednesday instead of coming home with their backs to the wall. David Price made that happen and he deserves the reward.