30 November 2017

Richard Bleier's Weird Season

In previous posts, I've discussed the low ERA and low strikeout rates of both Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro. Still, Bleier's season is even more peculiar that I thought.

Using Baseball-Reference's Play Index, I searched for seasons in the Expansion Era (since 1961) where pitchers have posted an ERA under 2 and a K/9 of 4 or below (minimum of 50 innings pitched). Here are the results (sorted by year):

Rk Player SO ERA SO9 IP Year
1Richard Bleier261.993.6963.1201730BAL574.37219
2Shigetoshi Hasegawa321.483.9573.0200334SEA633.78292
3Terry Leach221.952.6973.2199238CHW513.52199
4Dan Quisenberry481.943.11139.0198330KCR692.86210
5Dan Quisenberry201.732.8962.1198128KCR402.94209
6Rick Camp331.912.74108.1198027ATL773.42195
7Greg Minton331.813.7379.2197927SFG463.00196
8Tom Murphy471.903.44123.0197428MIL703.74189
9Dale Murray311.034.0069.2197424MON322.87374
10Jerry Bell201.662.5570.2197224MIL253.55183
11Mudcat Grant581.863.86135.1197034TOT803.52193
12Ron Kline481.683.83112.2196836PIT562.76173
13Frank Linzy381.513.5795.2196726SFG573.35223
14Hal Woodeshick301.923.8470.1196633STL593.65189
15Frank Linzy351.433.8681.2196524SFG572.93253
16Terry Fox231.713.5758.0196226DET443.15241
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/27/2017.

No one accomplished what Bleier did for 14 seasons. Since 1983, it's only happened three times!

Unless you think Bleier is the next Dan Quisenberry, a large portion of Bleier's success was due to good fortune. That doesn't mean he pitched poorly, of course. It'll just be extremely difficult to repeat his effectiveness to that level.

Bleier can still be useful, and the Orioles acquired him for basically nothing last February. But he probably won't post another ERA under 2. Nothing about that should be surprising.


Pip said...

Bleier had a 68.8% ground ball rate. That's really good, and makes up for not many Ks.
Do you think that won't repeat?
The Yankees didn't give him up without good reason.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

No, I would guess that he doesn't post another GB rate that high.

Pip said...

Matt, I was looking up Bleier's stats at Fangraphs, and noticed that he only had a .2 WAR.
Does fan graphs compensate for the limited number of innings thrown by a reliever, or was he just not that good, despite what we might have thought?

Matt Kremnitzer said...

FanGraphs uses a pitcher WAR based on fielding independent pitching numbers. Since Bleier put up a FIP of 4.37, they don't give him all that much credit.

Jon Shepherd said...

Fangraphs also considers replacement level on a next man up kind of replacement perspective, so it generally is more difficult to accrue WAR in that metric. bWAR does not do that.

Unknown said...

In most respects - pitch repertoire, approach, and PA results - Bleier looks very similar to T.J. McFarland. I would think going forward we would expect similar run-prevention results. With a reliever's workload they may wind up looking very good or very bad for a season, but in the long run they're probably fairly average pitchers who may be able to play up to a little above average if they're deployed primarily against lefties. That's fine, especially while he's under team control and cheap, but doesn't sound like a late-inning guy (except maybe as a LOOGY).

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yes, I wrote about some of the qualities he shares with McFarland here: http://camdendepot.blogspot.com/2017/10/can-orioles-rely-on-richard-bleier.html