In today’s article I’ll expound upon a rather interesting comparison between setup men. I’ll also discuss another reliever looking for a home, an all-time great who might retire, and the hottest arm on the free agent market if you decide that based upon the numbers of teams that want to sign him to a deal.
Daniel Bard vs. Joba Chamberlain: The perception is that the Red Sox righty reliever is a much better option in 2011. However, is that really the case? Let’s compare each hard throwing setup man to the other based on 2010 numbers.
Bard:1-2, 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Joba: 3-4, 4.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Clearly Bard was the better pitcher last season, and it wasn’t even close. Or was it?
Bard: 9.16 K/9, 3.62 BB/9, 2.53 K/BB, 1.23 GB/FB
Joba: 9.67 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, 3.50 K/BB, 1.22 GB/FB
Admit it – you almost fell out of your chair when you saw those three numbers, didn’t you? That’s right, Joba had a better K-rate, walked fewer batters, and had a better K/BB ratio. Given that their GB/FB ratios were virtually identical, if that was the only data you had at your fingertips you would say that Joba was the better pitcher, and it wouldn’t even be a tough call. So how in the world were his ERA and WHIP so much worse than Bard’s marks last year? I think I have a rather simple answer.
Bard: .225 BABIP, 15.4 LD-rate
Joba: .343 BABIP, 17.2 LD-rate
Yahtzee. Bard’s BABIP was artificially low while Joba’s was artificially high. That’s obviously a huge piece of this puzzle. We can make the argument that both hurlers also had artificially low line drive marks, but clearly the difference between the LD-rate and the BABIP mark was totally nuts for Bars. The big league average is 20 and .300, yet somehow Chamberlain flew past that to an obnoxious .343 BABIP even though his LD-rate was terrific. It just doesn’t make much sense. If both hurlers maintain their ’10 line drive rate in ’11, you would expect Bard to have a BABIP mark of about .270 and Joba to have a mark of about .290. If the gap does close to .020 points instead of last years .118 spread, you can bet the fantasy performance of both hurlers will be pretty darn close. Oh, and don’t forget that the Red Sox added reliever Bobby Jenks to their bullpen which might mean that Bard wouldn’t be the first choice to close if something were to happen to Jonathan Papelbon. As for the Yankees situation, do you have any doubt that Joba would get the call in the 9th inning if Mariano Rivera went down?
Octavio Dotel: He has certainly seen better days, but the guy still throws hard and knows how to post strikeouts. In fact, his 10.55 K/9 mark in 2010 was his fourth straight year in double digits and just slightly below his career 10.95 mark. Of course, walks are always a concern, more than four per nine in his career, and they were even above that poor mark up at 4.50 last year. Still, when looking for a power arm on the cheap, he is one of the best bets still on the market, so you can understand why he has been linked to the Rays, Blue Jays and Pirates.
Andy Pettitte: It really is starting to sound like Pettitte may indeed hang up his spikes. According to Buster Olney, Pettitte isn’t preparing as he normally would with his offseason training regimen. Even if he were to sign a deal with the Yankees, at this point he’d be weeks behind where he would normally be at physically. The Yankees have to be feeling like that kid who knows he was bad and is somehow holding out hope that Santa will overlook that fact and still bring him a gift on Christmas. As of now, here is the Yankees rotation: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and ??? They are nearly to the point of desperation with the only legitimate internal option apparently being Ivan Nova (I’m not buying Sergio Mitre). It’s not a good situation to be in. What is that old say, pitching wins championships? If that is the case, the Yankees are in serious trouble.
Brandon Webb: Last night there was a mystery team added to the mix (Ala the Phillies with the Cliff Lee negotiations). Who is that mystery team? We don’t know other than the club is from the NL Central and that it isn’t the Reds or Brewers. Since everyone already knows the Cubs are interested, that would seem to mean that either the Cardinals, Pirates or Astros are in the mix. Come Wednesday, we now have a second mystery team in the mix according to Webb’s agent Jonathan Maurer. Has there been this much interest in a broken down asset since the housing market crash?
By Ray Flowers