Taking a look back at 2010 and trying to project what will happen in 2011 is what we do at Fanball. To that end, Ted Carlson has been sending out assignments for us to rank our top options at each position for the 2011 season. Today, I’ll defend my rankings for the Top-20 Top-10 Closers for 2011 and try to explain how it is possible that two of our experts left Andrew Bailey out of their top-10.
As Ted asked in his the initial report, how is it that Mike Sheets and Seth Trachtman left Bailey completely out of their top-10? I listed him at #5, so the question is, was I right or wrong? Come on, do you really think I’m ever wrong? Here are the data points that prove beyond a doubt that Bailey should be listed in front of guys like Francisco Rodriguez, Huston Street and Chris Perez and firmly in the top-10 for 2011.
(1) Amongst pitchers who tossed at least 40-innings in 2010, Bailey was 5th in ERA (1.47). Moreover, and make sure you are firmly planted in your seat when you read this next sentence, Bailey has the best ERA in the history of baseball for any pitcher who has tossed at least 125-innings. Bailey’s mark is 1.70, slightly ahead of the 1.78 ERA of Al Spalding (and yes, that is the same Spalding whose name adorns sporting apparel these days).
(2) Bailey was 12th in WHIP (0.96) in 2010. Moreover, the past two seasons, amongst hurlers with at least 125-innings pitched, Bailey is #1 in the game with a base runner per nine mark of 8.16 – slightly ahead of the 8.26 mark Mariano Rivera.
(3) Bailey had a mere 7.72 K/9 mark in 2010, but amongst pitchers who have thrown at least 125-innings the past two years Bailey’s K/9 mark of 9.05 is 28th in baseball. Moreover, amongst pitchers with at least 50-saves, that K/9 mark is is 8th.
(4) Bailey has 51 saves the past two years, the 20th best mark in baseball. That number would be higher if not for two factors. First, he wasn’t the closer for the A’s at the start of the 2009 season, and second, injury limited him to just 49 innings in 2010. Still, Bailey has 25-saves in back-to-back seasons, and only 16 men have done that.
Given all that data, I honestly can’t understand how someone who choose to leave Bailey out of their top-10, unless they are going to argue that he is an injury concern. Even then, I’m not buying that argument – Bailey must be a top-10 selection at closer in 2011.
Broxton is a dominating force on the hill. In 2009 he racked up 36 saves, posted a 2.61 ERA and an otherworldly 13.50 K/9 mark. However, he had a couple of rough patches in 2010 that resulted in him losing his closing role to Hong-Chih Kuo in the second half of the season. At the same time, the 295 lbs, 95+ mph throwing Broxton still posted some dominating marks in 2010 including:
10.54 K/9 – Better than Jonathan Papelbon (10.21), Joakim Soria (9.73), Jose Valverde (9.00) and David Aardsma (8.88) to name just a few.
2.61 K/BB – Better than guys like Brian Fuentes (2.35), Chris Perez (2.18) and Brad Lidge (2.17) to name a few.
1.46 GB/FB – Better than Joakim Soria (1.37), Brian Wilson (1.28), Francisco Cordero (1.18) and Heath Bell (1.16) to name but a few.
So why the struggles in 2010?
(1) He walked way too many guys at 4.04 per nine. In each of the previous three seasons that mark was below 3.55.
(2) He was unlucky, at least that’s what I’m calling it. Broxton owns a .328 career BABIP, a mark that he had been at or under in each of the last four seasons. So how do you explain his ’10 mark of .369? Again, I go back to bad luck being the main culprit.
I could see how some of the guys on staff would pass on ranking Broxton in their top-10, I get it. I just hope that everyone holds that view heading into next season so that I can grab Broxton in the middle rounds because I have full confidence in him posting strong totals yet again in 2011.
By Ray Flowers
Tags: Al Spalding, Andrew Bailey, Brad Lidge, Brian Fuentes, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, Closers, David Aardsma, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Hong-Chih Kuo, Huston Street, Joakim Soria, Jonathan Broxton, Jonathan Papelbon, Mariano Rivera