Friday, March 23, 2007

Papelbon More Valuable As Closer?

I’ve been too busy (and sick) for much of an update lately, but I wanted to add my 2 cents worth to the Papelbon discussion. Someone, probably Bill James since he’s done most of these studies, came out with a study years ago saying that the 80 innings pitched by an elite closer are more valuable than the 200 innings pitched by a non-elite starter, which I believe includes a #2 starter. The reason for this is that the final inning or two make up the most pressure-packed parts of a game and it takes a special pitcher to be able to handle those innings, particularly in a place like Boston. On the reverse side, the first 6-7 innings are more relaxed and even the weakest-minded pitchers (except Matt Clement) can get through them without breaking down mentally from the pressure.

So the point is this: we have a guy who was one of the best closers in the game last year and put together one of the finest seasons ever by a closer until he broke down on September 1st. We know he can do it and do it well in Boston. Or we can rely on guys who have a checkered past in the closers role or guys who have never done it before. Seems like an easy choice to me. Especially when you read how healthy Pap’s shoulder supposedly is.

“What about Pap’s Cy Young run?” some of you ask. There is no indication Papelbon would have pitched well enough to even compete in the Cy Young race as the closer. In fact, ESPN.com had him leading the Cy Young race in their Cy Predictor until he broke down last year. He’s got a better chance as closer than as starter to win the Cy. And Papelbon tends to throw too many pitches as a starter, averaging 17-18 pitches per inning, which is very high. The Sox were worried that he’d be a 5 inning pitcher, rather than give them the 7-8 innings they need and want.

This is a good move and also very exciting. If you drafted Papelbon as a starter in your fantasy baseball team you’re sitting pretty right now because you picked him late and now he’s much more valuable.

 

1 comment:

skootch said...

I love hearing Paps say things like "I want to be the closer for my career" and "I want to break records and be defined as a great closer"
As if he doesnt already work hard enough, now he is even more motivated. The Marioano Rivera for the next 12 years? We shall see. Off to a great start.