Unusual Early Results For The Rays’ Remade Bullpen

Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate, Grant Balfour and Chad Qualls all hit free agency last offseason, which created lots of uncertainty and a shortage of relievers for the low-budget Rays. Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged from the beginning of the offseason that adding "a meaningful number of bullpen arms" was a top priority for the winter.

One fifth of the way through the season, the Rays' bullpen has been effective, while relievers such as Soriano and Benoit have struggled for their respective new clubs. Led by Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Juan Cruz and Adam Russell, newcomers have accounted for 78% of the bullpen's innings this year. Now that Jake McGee is back in the minor leagues, Andy Sonnanstine is the lone member of Joe Maddon's 'pen that pitched for the 2010 team that won the AL East.

Low-risk, low-budget free agents (Farnsworth, Peralta and Cruz) the spoils of the Jason Bartlett trade (Russell, Cesar Ramos and Brandon Gomes) and a waiver claim (Rob Delaney) have combined with two holdovers (Sonnanstine and McGee) to post a 2.69 ERA through 87 innings of work. That bullpen ERA is good for third-best in baseball, as is the .582 OPS allowed by the 'pen so far. No bullpen has allowed fewer walks than the Rays (34) and only the Mariners (3) have allowed fewer homers than Tampa (4).

But there are indications that the Rays shouldn't expect these results from their new 'pen all season. Their relievers are last in the majors with 51 Ks and 5.3 K/9 and they're second-last in innings pitched (87) and BABIP (.215). Perhaps most telling of all is their 4.41 xFIP (also second-last in the majors), which is nearly two runs higher than their ERA.

Outstanding production isn't sustainable with some of the worst peripherals in the league, so it appears likely that the group's performance will drop off. But given the losses the Rays sustained last winter, it's impressive that Friedman's new collection of relievers has been this effective 20% of the way through another season.

Full Story | 11 Comments | Categories: Tampa Bay Rays

11 Responses to Unusual Early Results For The Rays’ Remade Bullpen Leave a Reply

  1. TapDancingTeddy 4 years ago

    According to B-R, Kyle Farnsworth has made over $30MM in his career. They also figure his career WAR at 3.0. So he’s gotten paid $10MM for each “win.”

    Man do I wish I was a crappy pitcher with a 100 MPH fastball.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      fangraphs sets 1 win above replacement at approximately 4.5 million

      • TapDancingTeddy 4 years ago

        Scott Boras would agree with that number! So would Albert Pujols – if he could ever get anywhere near that from the Cards.

        At a career 84 WAR, Prince Albert should’ve made $378MM instead of the $89MM he actually earned.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          fangraphs’ valuation isn’t normative; they’re not asserting that a win ought to be of x value. their number is an aggregate based in large part on what teams had to pay free agents who performed at a certain level. the market value of a win is determined by the market value of the players who produce at certain win-levels, which changes every year

          it would be more precise if they broke it down by position, but also less useful. it’s best as a quick-and-dirty estimator

          and of course if pujols had gone year to year as a free agent over his career instead of being subjected to the six-year restriction and signing a long-term deal, his earnings would be miles higher than they are

    • buddaley 4 years ago

      In any given year there are fewer than 400 people in the world both able to pitch as well as Farnsworth and available to do so. What can you do that puts you in that infinitesimally small % of the world’s population able and available to do something of value? And what salary would you expect if you were?

      As a matter of fact, Farnsworth has not been a crappy pitcher. He has often been disappointing and has had some poor seasons, but he also has had some good years. According to fangraphs his career WAR is 6.3 by the way.

      • TapDancingTeddy 4 years ago

        Obviously, I can’t do anything to make that kind of money. That’s why I wish I was a crappy pitcher with a 100 MPH fastball.

        BTW, the difference in FanGraphs vs. B-R war being 2 to 1 is where you get that Farnsworth is NOT a crappy pitcher. If you believe the 3.0 figure then you also believe the season-by-season breakdown which says he’s had more bad years than good.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          if you “believe” rWAR then you do not believe cliff lee was a top 20 pitcher last year. glwt

          • TapDancingTeddy 4 years ago

            Even if you go by FanGraphs data, Farnsworth has been a one win or better pitcher only half the time. Five times he’s been below replacement level, and his career WPA is negative rather than positive. I think that’s still pretty crappy.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            i’m certainly not going to take the position that he’s had a great or even very good career. mostly i just think rWAR is poor evidence to use against a pitcher – and i think ‘crappy’ might be a little inaccurate

            farnsworth’s had almost as many ugly years as good ones, but his career FIP- is 97 (slightly better than league average). his career tERA is 4.15, which is also better than average

            i expect you were using the word crappy loosely, but i think he’s at least a tier or two above it nonetheless. let’s call it “meh and a half”

  2. optionn 4 years ago

    Farnsworth seems to be pitching pretty good in Tampa. This was a good signing especially considering how crazy some teams handed out years and dollars to relievers this past offseason.

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