Wednesday, November 15, 2006

 

Ranking the Free Agent Relief Pitchers for 2007

Rankings based on five key stats. Age, Percentage of LERA, K and BB rates, and K to BB ratios. Like with the Starters, any relievers with a career Percentage of LERA that is above the league average are not mentioned, as such pitchers are rarely worth signing.

Guillermo Mota has been left out, due to his Steroid suspension.


CLOSERS

1) KIETH FOULKE - 34 years old, has pitched to 76% of the LERA in career. 8.3 K rate and 2.2 BB rate, 3.30 ERA in career. His K to BB rate is superb at 3.8. After a bad 2005, he pitched better, but not great in 2006. Been battling injuries last two years. If he's healthy, he's a fine closer. Have always felt that his funny style of holding the ball up and then releasing it, helps him greatly to slightly confuse the hitters. It looks just a little bit harder to pick up his release point, and as a pitcher that is a huge advantage. An extra split second of advantage can be the difference between a successful pitcher and a mediocre or bad one.

2) ERIC GAGNE - 30 years old. Pitched to 80% of LERA in career. 10.4 K's, 3.0 BB's, 3.27 ERA. Has a tremedous K to BB rate of 3.4. Obviously, health is the main issue with him. If he gets back to what he was, he's the best closer in the game. It's unlikely he'll ever be that again, but just how good can he be? Huge question mark.

3) OCTAVIO DOTEL - 32 years old, has pitched to 83% of LERA in career. 10.8 K's, 4.0 BB's, with a 3.75 ERA. K to BB rate of 2.7. This guy can pitch and be a very effective closer if he's healthy. Worth a gamble at the right price.

4) EDDIE GUARDADO - 36 years old. Pitched to 91% of LERA in career. 7.9 K's, 3.3 BB's and 4.27 ERA. K to BB rate of 2.4. Has had some pretty good years, and some not so great. Was lousy for Seattle in 2006, but great for Cincy. Strictly a lower end stopper at this stage.

5) JOE BOROWSKI - 35 years old, has pitched to 91% of LERA in career. 7.4 K's and 3.7 BB's, with a 3.87 career ERA. K to BB ratio is 2.0. Had two very good years with the Cubs, and one good year with the Marlins. Another low end stopper, maybe the Rutgers product can ride the amazing Scarlet Knights college football wave into a nice contract.

6) DANYS BAEZ - 29 years old. Has pitched to 85% of the LERA in career. 7.1 K's and 3.7 BB's, with a 3.79 ERA in career. K to BB ratio of 1.9. He had one really good closer year in Tampa. If you are desperate for a closer at a cheap price, he might foot the bill, if you're lucky.



SET-UP RELIEVERS

1) CHAD BRADFORD - 32 years old, has pitched to 76% of LERA in career. 6.2 K's and 2.5 BB's, with a 3.40 ERA in career. K to BB ratio of 2.5. He had a fine year for the Mets in 2006, and is a quality reliever. Like his onetime teammate Foulke, he gains an advantage on the hitters with his funny delivery. His knuckle scraping delivery motion must be harder to pick up than a normal delivery. That is a pretty low percentage of LERA he has for his career. Could close successfully for somebody, if given the chance.

2) DAVID RISKE - 30 years old. Pitched to 81% of LERA in career. 8.6 K's and 3.8 BB's, with a 3.59 ERA in career. K to BB rate of 2.3. Quality reliever who could probably be a low price closer for somebody.

3) JUSTIN SPEIER - 33 years old, has pitched to 84% of LERA in career. 7.8 K's and 3.1 BB's, with a 4.02 ERA in career. K to BB rate of 2.5. Has pitched very well the last two years out of the pen in Toronto. Still another guy who could probably close for somebody.

4) STEVE KLINE - 34 years old. Pitched to 79% of LERA in career. 6.7 K's and 3.9 BB's, with a 3.42 ERA in career. K to BB rate is just 1.7. His low career Percentage of LERA probably a product of being a lefty facing lefties. Looks like the best lefty specialist available this year via free agency.

5) RAY KING - 32 years old. Pitched to 76% of LERA in career. 6.2 K's and 3.8 BB's, with 3.28 ERA in career. K to BB rate is just 1.6. Very similar to Kline, with the same comment about his Percentage of LERA. Might get this lefty specialist cheap this year, because he pitched in Colorado last year, with resulting stats being inflated from what he normally does.

5) ROBERTO HERNANDEZ - 42 years old. Has pitched to 74% of LERA in career. 8.0 K's and 3.8 BB's, with a 3.32 ERA in career. K to BB ratio of 2.1. Has a fine career Percentage of LERA and he has pitched well the last two years, but he's well over 40. Otherwise, he'd be near the top of the list.

6) JAMIE WALKER - 35 years old, pitched to 89% of LERA in career. 6.7 K's and 2.2 BB's, with a 3.95 ERA in career. K to BB ratio is a fine 3.1. He's a lefty and is therefore going to get offers. He's a much better reliever than say, Ron Villone.

7) MIKE STANTON - 39 years old, has pitched to 87% of LERA in career. 7.3 K's and 3.4 BB's, with a 3.81 ERA in career. His K to BB ratio is 2.2. He'd be much higher on the list, but for his age. He pitched pretty good for the Giants at the end of last year. Lefty specialist sure to get offers.


Three Relievers to Be Wary of:

DANNY KOLB - his career K to BB ratio is just 1.3, as he walks 4.2 batters per 9 innings. He might get away with having a decent stretch every now then, but that K to BB rate is always going to get him in the end.

MIKE DEJEAN - he's not awful, but another guy with a very high BB rate of 4.2.

DOUG BROCAIL - career stats are not bad, but he hasn't really had a good year for 5 years.

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