Posts Tagged ‘Sergio Romo’

Arizona Diamondbacks v Boston Red Sox

The first 162 (and even 163) have come and gone, the playoffs have had their day and the Red Sox have the year’s title in hand (and beard). Now is the part of the year where time both looks forward, with free agency, but backwards as well, as it is time to honor the very best of the best from the year that was.

For the third year here in the CHEAP SEATS, the wrap on the baseball books for the year will be done via my vote for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards, which serves as the collective vote for the network of independent sites which chronicle the game throughout the year. Each is named after a past performer that has embodied the best of what he does, and the CSP submissions will start, at the end, by rewarding the best relief pitchers in each league.

2013 American League Goose Gossage Reliever of the Year—KOJI UEHARA, Boston Red Sox

For many, the spotlight was shined on Koji Uehara only this October, when he took the act his act to the highest stage in the postseason. But for anybody that’s followed the Red Sox across the course of the season, this was probably when Uehara was at his most mortal throughout the year, mostly because he actually gave up hits by then.

In a season that saw him be a jack of all trades in the Red Sox pen, starting has a bridge reliever in the seventh inning, to not only being passed over for the closer role three, but four times. Yet eventually, John Farrell realized there was no other place for the type of dominance his veteran righty was displaying to be place. Armed with only two pitches, a splitter, which he occasionally offset with a fastball that realistically sat in the high 80’s, but looked like it was topping 100 when following said splitter, he mowed through the Majors this season. Batters managed only a .130 average against him this season, has he surrendered only 33 hits across 74.1 innings.

A further look inside of that stinginess makes an even greater point: Uehara was the toughest reliever to reach base against in baseball history this season. Let that sink in for a second, and now let’s continue. In between those scattered hits, he struck out 101 batters, while walking only nine, which equates to an insane 0.57 WHIP, the lowest such number in baseball history. He fell behind in the count only 11 times the entire season, threw a de facto Perfect Game (plus some) by retiring 34 consecutive batters from August 21 to September 17th. He also authored 29 consecutive scoreless innings, ran up 21 saves and 13 holds along the way. In a game that his obsessed with power stamps being put on the end of games, Uehara redefined how dominance can be finessed as well, and with more effectiveness than ever seen before.

The Rest:

2. Greg Holland—Royals: 47 saves/3 BSV, .170 average against, 103 strikeouts, 1.21 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

3.  Joe Nathan—Rangers: 43 Saves/3 BSV, .162 average against, 73 strikeouts, 1.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP

4. Mariano Rivera—Yankees: 44 saves/7 BSV, .236 average against, 54 strikeouts, 2.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP

5. Grant Balfour—Athletics: 38 saves/3 BSV, .206 average against, 72 strikeouts, 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

Craig_Kimbrel

2013 National League Goose Gossage Reliever of the Year—CRAIG KIMBREL, Atlanta Braves

It is nearly to the point where this award could be named after Kimbrel, which is insane considering he’s only 25 years old. But in a game that routinely has many open ended, debatable questions, there is one that is not open for discussion: Craig Kimbrel is the best closer in the game. Open and shut case, much like the games he has an impact on.

No player has started his career on a door-slamming warpath such as Kimbrel is on; three years into his career, three times leading the NL in saves. He set a new career high with 50 in 2013, and has closed out 139 already in his career. For the second consecutive year, he allowed less than 10 earned runs and finished with a sub-1.25 ERA on a .166 average against. In the course of closing out 60 games for the second time, and showing a brilliant amount of control for the power approach he takes. While running batters off with his mixture of triple digit fastballs and virtually unhittable slider, he walked only 20 batters and surrendered 39 hits.

It could be argued that despite his eye-popping numbers that 2013 was his “worst” year statistically (which is relative to only the standard he’s set for himself). However, there was has been no season where he meant more to the Braves than this one. After injuries ravished the Atlanta pitching staff, his presence kept the boat steady for the club, by being the rock at the end of the game. He stopped any bleeding that might have reached them, and continued to be a human eight inning game creator. There aren’t many certainties in this game, but more often than not (precisely 139 times out of 154), games that meet Kimbrel meet their end soon after.

The Rest:

2. Kenley Jansen—Dodgers: 28 saves/4 BSV, 16 holds, .177 average against, 111 strikeouts, 1.88 ERA, 0.86 WHIP

3. Aroldis Chapman—Reds: 38 saves/5 BSV, .164 average against, 112 strikeouts, 2.54 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

4. Steve Cishek—Marlins: 34 saves/2 BSV, .211 average against, 74 strikeouts, 2.33 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

5. Sergio Romo—Giants: 38 saves/5 BSV, .226 Average against, 58 strikeouts, 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

This is just the beginning of the awards run in at CSP. Here is the slate of my upcoming 2013 accolaides, as I wrap the year that was, before looking ahead at what’s to come this winter:

Thursday: NL/AL Willie Mays Rookie of the Year

Saturday: NL/AL Connie Mack Manager of the Year

Friday: AL Walter Johnson Pitcher of the Year Award

Monday: NL Walter Johnson Pitcher of the Year Award

Tuesday: AL Stan Musial Most Valuable Player Award

Wednesday: NL Stan Musial Most Valuable Player Award

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Sergio Romo

The CHEAP SEATS breakout of the best units in baseball continues today, with a look at the best bullpens in baseball. This isn’t just the best closer, with a few other guys, but the teams that can make a window of opportunity really small to a get a W. There are some really strong groups of late arms coming into the league, with potentially some of the best units not even finishing among the Top 10 coming in. With Rafael Soriano still looking for a home as well, there’s still a huge piece that could change the fortune of a few of these groups, as well as a few not mention among them yet.

But this is what it is, and the series continues with a spotlight on the pitchers that don’t stand it as often…until the pressure is on highest.

 

1. Atlanta Braves: The only bullpen that can truly turn leads into six inning wins, and it got deeper this offseason. Craig Kimbrel has been the best closer in the game for his first two season in the game, converting 89 of 100 save opportunities, while opposing hitters have a .151 average against him. Eric O’Flaherty has 1.95 ERA over the last two seasons and Jonny Venters has struck out 258 batters in 229 pro innings. Add on Jordan Walden, who saved 32 games as a rookie All-Star in 2011, and you’ve got a devastating group.

2. San Francisco Giants: You’d think they would take a step backwards losing Brian Wilson at the beginning of the year, but not a skip was missed up and down their pen. That’s a testament to the game’s most balanced pen, with Sergio Romo handing in his second consecutive sub-2.00 ERA year, with 18 total saves. Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affelt and George Kontos all handed in ERA’s below 3.00 as well.

3. Baltimore Orioles: The O’s weren’t the best late-inning team in the game just due to a knack for walk off hits. Their pen was the secret strength of the team, led by Jim Johnson, who saved 51 games while walking just 15 batters in over 60 innings. Pedro Strop, Darren O’Day, Luis Ayala and Troy Patton were the ultimate support group and 18 won total games.

4. Oakland A’s: Whether it was Ryan Cook (14 saves, 21 holds, .166 average against) or Grant Balfour (24 saves, 15 holds, .160 average against) closing games, the entire path through the late innings against the A’s was hell. With their entire pen returning, the American League’s best total pitching staff will be trouble again.

5. St. Louis Cardinals: Once again, the Cardinals’ staff stepped up big late in the season. Jason Motte tied for the NL lead in saves with 42, and Edward Mujica put up a 1.03 ERA after being acquired from the Marlins. Randy Choate (.158 average vs. left-handers) and Trevor Rosenthal (15 strikeouts in 8.5 playoff innings) could both be huge additions over the course of the full season in 2013.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers: Around their big name additions, the Dodgers have done a good job off filling in the details as well, starting with a solid bullpen. Brandon League will resume his role as a full-time closer, after saving 37 games in 2011. 2012’s closer Kenley Jansen, who struck out 13.7 batters per 9 innings, will open as setup man, and with Matt Guerrier, JP Howell and Ronald Belisario in the mix as well, there will be no shortage of situational arms available as well.

7. Boston Red Sox: There may be no team with more “what if” talent on their bullpen mix than the Bo Sox. Joel Hanahran (36 saves, 2.72 ERA in Pittsburgh) was their biggest acquisition of the winter, but if Daniel Bard, Andrew Bailey and Koji Uehara can also find their old forms (and health), this could be the group at the top of the list by next year.

Aroldis Chapman makes the Reds group a top 3 pen collection, but even without him, Cincy still has a ton of strong late inning arms.

Aroldis Chapman makes the Reds group a top 3 pen collection, but even without him, Cincy still has a ton of strong late inning arms.

8. Cincinnati Reds: Another group that has a pretty big “if” attached to it. With Aroldis Chapman, this is a top 3 unit, but since the plan is to move him to rotation currently, it slides some. Even without him available daily, it is still a strong unit led by Jonathan Broxton, Jose Arrendando and one of baseball’s best left-handed setup arms, Sean Marshall.

9. San Diego Padres: A great unit that makes a so-so club a lot better on its own. Despite losing Heath Bell and Mike Adams the last two years, the Padres still have 10 relievers that averaged better than a strikeout an inning. When he gets a chance, Huston Street was lights out, converting 96% of saves chances with a 1.85 ERA.

10. Tampa Bay Rays: Annual guarantee in baseball is the Rays will have a dynamic bullpen. It will be needed more than ever, with a rotation thinned out after trading it’s workhorse, James Shields, and setup man Wade Davis. However, Fernando Rodney (0.60 ERA and 48 saves in 74 innings), along with Jake McGee and Joel Peralta are a strong base for the next wave of certain to follow up and comers that will join the group to build off of.

 

Just Missed: Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks.