New Mariner Fernando Rodney: Instant Take

600px-Fernando_Rodney_on_June_26,_2008== 2 years, $14M, no draft pick forfeit ==

Fernando Rodney, 37-year-old right-handed reliever and recent closer for the Tampa Bay Rays is reportedly heading to the Mariners.

Rodney did not get a qualifying offer, and, therefore, there is no draft pick compensation involved in the deal.

== Is he better than Danny Farquhar? ==

The 2013 version of Rodney was not better than the 2013 9th-inning version of Farquhar, no.

But the 2012 version of Rodney?

Well …

The 2012 version of Rodney was about as effective as any pitcher ever.

Let me repeat:

The 2012 version of Rodney was about as effective as any pitcher ever.

One problem.

The 2012 version of Rodney is completely unlike the versions before or since.

OK, maybe not completely different, but lots different.

===

So in 2012 Rodney struck out 27% of the batters he faced.  That’s very, very good.  But closers do that; or at least they’re supposed to.

But what’s mind-bending is what the other batters did:  only 15 walks (5.3%) and 43 hits — and 39 of those were singles.

Two home runs.  Two doubles.  For a whole season (76 games, 74.2 IP), only four extra-base hits (1.4%).  ISO-against of .031.

  • Strike out a ton
  • Walk hardly anyone
  • And give up virtually no extra-base hits?

All leading to an ERA of 0.60 and a WHIP of 0.78.  That’s very unusual.

===

Of course, the problem is it’s not just very unusual historically.  It’s very unusual for Fernando Rodney.

Career HR% = 1.7% | 2012 = 0.7%

Career XBH% = 6.0% | 2012 = 1.4%

Career BB% = 11.4% | 2012 = 5.3%

Career K% = 22.1% | 2012 = 27.0%

Career BABIP = .290 | 2012 = .225

That being said, Rodney is generally good at keeping  the ball in the yard and limiting XBH, just not that good.

But he’s not generally good at avoiding walks, so something quite different was happening that year.  In 2013, his BB-rate bounced right back up to 12.4% (4.9 BB/9), so whatever magic sparkle dust he was using seemed to run out.

===

So, assuming you don’t get freaky-effective Rodney (which is what you’d get 10 out his 11 seasons), what do you get?

Certainly a very good reliever most of the time, with a big strikeout arm and a good track record of avoiding too much damage (.112 career ISO-against; .669 career OPS-against).  Except for 2012, he does surrender too many free passes, and that results in a higher WHIP and ERA than his other results might indicate.

But if Rodney rediscovers his 2012 sparkle dust, and Tom Wilhelmsen rediscovers his 2012 sparkle dust, and Farquhar retains his 2013 sparkle dust … well that would be something to see.

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