St. Louis Cardinals 2011 Reliever of the Year

Publisher and editor
Posted Oct 7, 2011


Fernando Salas just edged out Jason Motte as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year.

When selecting the top relief pitcher on the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, Fernando Salas, one had to sort through a significant number of pitchers that came and went along the way before settling down to the serious candidates.

Salas
Veterans Ryan Franklin, Trever Miller and Brian Tallet were all sent packing after not performing up to expectations. Kyle McClellan began the season as a starter and did not excel after his move back to the pen - to the point he was left off the post-season roster.

Rookies Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez were very effective, but missed large blocks of time due to injury. The late-season additions from Toronto, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, put up some nice numbers. Joining the club during August, 41-year-old Arthur Rhodes performed a bit more like the stalwart from Cincinnati in 2008-09 than the lefty released by Texas this summer.

Putting the aforementioned bullpenners aside since they performed only partial-season work, we are left with just three names – Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte and Salas.

Though Boggs appeared in 51 games, he disappeared from sight on several occasions, including a demotion to Triple-A shortly after having lost the closer’s job. Further, his stats were not comparable to the other two.

Let’s look at the basic numbers.

Relievers K BB K/BB HR OBA
Sanchez 35 16 2.2 1 0.144
Lynn 32 8 4.0 2 0.176
Dotel 32 5 6.4 1 0.182
Salas 75 21 3.6 2 0.186
Motte 63 16 3.9 2 0.202
Rhodes 6 3 2.0 2 0.207
Rzepczynski 28 11 2.5 1 0.259
Boggs 48 21 2.3 4 0.266
McClellan 23 13 1.8 8 0.269
Miller 9 10 0.9 1 0.306
Tallet 9 5 1.8 4 0.339
Franklin 17 7 2.4 9 0.367
Relievers G IP W L ERA FIP* WAR*
Salas 68 75    5 6 2.28 3.13 2.4
Motte 78 68    5 2 2.25 2.45 1.9
Sanchez 26 30    3 1 1.80 2.99 1.2
Lynn 16 24 1/3 0 0 2.22 2.85 0.7
McClellan 26 37 6 1 4.14 4.89 0.5
Dotel 29 24 2/3 3 3 3.28 3.23 0.2
Boggs 51 60 2/3 2 3 3.56 3.41 0.2
Miller 39 15 2/3 0 1 4.02 5.07 0.2
Rzepczynski 28 22 1/3 0 3 3.97 3.15 0.1
Rhodes 19 8 2/3 0 1 4.15 5.92 0.1
Tallet 18 13    0 1 8.31 7.42 -0.7
Franklin 21 27 2/3 1 4 8.46 6.86 -1.4
*season values

Each has his strengths. Salas had the edge over Motte in a lower opponent batting average and by striking out a batter per inning. He also had a superior WAR (Wins Over Replacement) value. Motte had a slightly lower ERA (though the two are very, very close) and a little better strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Though Lynn, Sanchez and Dotel are not in contention for the award, notice their good numbers, though their ERAs are moderated a bit by their FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) values. Also note the homeritis that affected both McClellan and Franklin.

Relievers Ret'd 1st Bat'r Pct
Dotel 51 64 79.7%
Salas 54 68 79.4%
Boggs 37 49 75.5%
Lynn 12 16 75.0%
Rzepczynski 50 69 72.5%
Motte 55 77 71.4%
Rhodes 36 51 70.6%
Sanchez 16 23 69.6%
McClellan 18 26 69.2%
Franklin 14 21 66.7%
Tallet 11 18 61.1%
Miller 21 38 55.3%

Salas really excelled in keeping his first batter faced off the basepaths. Only Dotel (whose full-season numbers are listed in this table) was better.

Relievers Inh Run Scored Pct
Lynn 1 0 0.0%
Dotel 50 8 16.0%
Rhodes 35 6 17.1%
Boggs 17 3 17.6%
Tallet 8 2 25.0%
Rzepczynski 31 9 29.0%
Miller 34 10 29.4%
Salas 30 9 30.0%
Motte 56 18 32.1%
Sanchez 5 2 40.0%
McClellan 4 2 50.0%
Franklin 5 3 60.0%

Motte was asked to come in to pitch more often with runners on base. His rate of those inherited runners eventually scoring was a bit higher than Salas.

Relievers Holds Saves Opps Sv Pct
Dotel 8 3 3 100.0%
Salas 6 24 30 80.0%
Sanchez 7 5 7 71.4%
Motte 20 9 13 69.2%
Boggs 3 4 8 50.0%
Lynn 6 1 2 50.0%
Miller 6 1 3 33.3%
Rhodes 13 1 3 33.3%
Franklin 0 1 5 20.0%
McClellan 7 0 1 0.0%
Rzepczynski 18 0 5 0.0%
Tallet 2 0 0 NA

Though Motte ended the regular season as the club’s closer after a very strong stretch as set-up man, Salas actually logged a higher save percentage over the course of the season.

That may change in 2012, but all things considered, Fernando Salas narrowly edged out Jason Motte as the winner of The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year award.

The bigger picture

The 2011 Cardinals’ bullpen’s blown save mark rightfully garnered a lot of attention, but that isn’t the whole story. Overall, the group performed comparably to the 2010 relievers and in several cases, better.

Similar areas include win-loss percentage, innings pitched, home runs and walks allowed. The 2011 relievers had a lower opponent batting average, ERA and a significantly higher strikeout total. This performance leads to optimism for 2012 as the younger relievers gain more experience.

Pen W L W-L% ERA Sv Op Sv %
2011 28 30 0.483 3.60 47 73 64.4%
2010 18 20 0.474 3.73 32 42 76.2%
2009 22 18 0.550 3.67 43 58 74.1%
2008 22 31 0.415 4.20 42 73 57.5%
2007 30 12 0.714 4.07 34 45 75.6%
Pen IP HR BB K  K:BB OBA
2011 463 49 170 421 2.5 0.239
2010 462 2/3 48 169 346 2.0 0.250
2009 437 43 194 340 1.8 0.238
2008 499 53 230 381 1.7 0.264
2007 546 2/3 53 188 413 2.2 0.252





Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2011 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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