Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MLB Bullpen Rankings

In February, we judged every Major League bullpen from the micro perspective. We looked at individual player stats like FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), HR/9, and K:BB ratio from 2008, '09, and '10, plus Marcel 2011 WHIP projections.

Quickly tonight, I took a macro glance and sorted 2011 team stats including K/9, BB/9, K/BB, HR/9, ERA, FIP, xFIP, and tERA.

The Elite, Best of the Best
Expect to see Kimbrel as an All Star
Craig Kimbrel has been the Derek Rose of NL Bullpens.
Seven out of Nine pitchers in their bullpen have a FIP under 2.94.
A solid group top to bottom, without a susceptible weak link.
Kevin Towers's best work may have been the building of this bullpen over the past seven months.

Acquirable Assets
The first big drop in our statistical review gets us to the Pirates, but they're still ranked 5th in all of baseball. If the buccos cannot compete (and they can't), a few of these guys could end up in pennant races with New York, Boston, Tampa, Philadelphia, or someone else.
The Nationals feel like they're close to contending, so it's not as if everyone is readily available. Todd Coffey could be in the American League come August.

Expected Contenders, Contending
Another former Cub who's got it goin' on
Our preseason pick for best bullpen is doing quite well, 6th in our study. It's a long season.
Unless the Bronx Bombers acquire reinforcements, their bullpen should fade throughout the summer. Their starting rotation is, frankly, a bad joke.
White Sox
Their closer situation, with Sergio Santos, should help solidify the entire bullpen.
We've always liked the Betancourt, Lindstrom, Street version of the Nasty Boys. While Huston Street has struggled, the left-handed Matt Reynolds has continued his solid pitching from last season.
Red Sox
Go ahead, Rich, win a
World Series with Boston.
See if we care.
Papelbon seems to have improved his control, and we expect great things from Daniel Bard. This will be a good group. Bobby Jenks is the X-factor, and his 3.74 FIP suggests his enormous ERA is a mirage. I've always rooted for Rich Hill and wanted the Cubs to reclaim him. So, his success is a little bittersweet.
Their best assets are their offense and the front of their rotation. If the bullpen becomes a strength, they could challenge Cincinnati for the NL Central.

MLB's Middle Class
Will their semi-annual fade ruin their season around August?
So far, it's a 1-man race
for American League
Manager of the Year.
Surprise, surprise, Manny Acta has his musical mojo working so far.
The Mets are a year, or two, away from being relevant again. Trading K-Rod for anything would help expedite the process.
They have money, a front office with brains, a nice stadium, and vast fan support, but their average bullpen isn't turning their below average offense in many Wins.
I agree with Marty Brennaman, that the Cardinals are baseball's most hated team. Kyle McClellan is helping the rotation, but it also left a gaping hole in their efforts to get Outs 22-27.
Blue Jays
This Bullpen should turnover a bit, as they get through the battles of the AL East. They score enough runs and should be in enough games that the bullpen, sadly, looks like their Achilles' heel.
Please, don't get me started. Marmol, Wood, and Marshall are very good. It would be nice if they had more Major League talent around them.
The Rays bullpen was completely revamped in the offseason. They will likely see improvement.
Aroldis Chapman is becoming an enigma, and Dusty Baker has shown the repeatable skills of winning divisions and destroying young arms.
Poor Don Mattingly could really use a break.
The Astros shuold get nice and comfy here, near the bottom of the bullpen rankings. Consider it penance for Brandon Lyon, alone.
Jim Leyland should figure a way to get through the later innings, as the season goes along. The Tigers are a good bet to improve.
Joakim Soria has not had a good start to the season, so if he regresses towards his career mean, we could see the Royals winning percentage stay around .500 for this first time in a long time. It would be interesting, more than with any other reliever almost, to see Soria show his brilliance again and get traded to a contender.

Still Searching
S.O.S. in the Philly Bullpen
Lidge and Contreras haven't helped, but this contending team should acquire arms through trades to improve their Phillies bullpen. The cannot count on CG's the rest of the year/postseason.
The Orioles bullpen is terrible and should stay that way through next season.

With Regression Alone, Should Improve
Expect more from the AL Champs
Jordan Walden, Scott Downs, and Rich Thompson have been great, but that's been it. Mike Scioscia can do better than this.
Can Joe Nathan help them regain control? Is he a year away? Or is he done?
The return of Neftali Feliz will propel the Rangers up this list.

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