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« Francisco Rodriguez now an Oriole | Main | Derek Lowe Loses that Sinking Feeling »

So why not, Jonathan Papelbon?

With the news that Andrew Bailey is most likely done for the season, with Joel Hanrahan done for the season, with Daniel Bard having spiraled to the minor leagues, with Junichi Tazawa already having appeared in 43 games, the most of his career, and with the 38-year old Koji Uehara already having appeared in 44 games, the second-most games of his career, Red Sox Nation is crying out for Jonathan Papelbon.

So, why not?

Pap is the club's all-time saves leader with 219, ahead of Bob Stanley's 132 and Dick Radatz' 104.

So, why not?

Papelbon is the only reliever in baseball who has had seven consecutive seasons from 2006-12 with 30+ saves.

So, why not?

  • In 2010, Papelbon's ERA was 3.90
  • in 2011, Papelbon's ERA was 2.94
  • in 2012, Papelbon's ERA was 2.44
  • in 2013, Papelbon's ERA is 2.33

So, why not?

  • in 2011, Papelbon's WHIP was 0.933
  • in 2012, Papelbon's WHIP was 1.057
  • in 2013, Papelbon's WHIP is 0.905

So, why not?

I'll tell you why not?

Those numbers look really good, but these don't: 

  • 92.8
  • 91.4
  • 89.9 

Those aren't numbers on your FM dial, those are the 2011, 2012, and 2013 decreasing average speeds of Papelbon's pitches.

Here are three more numbers: 

  • 97.5
  • 96.4
  • 95.5 

Those are the 2011, 2012, and 2013 decreasing maximum speeds of Papelbon's pitches.

Here are three more numbers: 

  • 75.4%
  • 70.6%
  • 69.7% 

That's the declining percentage of the fastballs that Papelbon is throwing as he realizes that this pitch is losing its effectiveness. He is increasingly relying on his splitter as a replacement.

I'm not done

Here are three more numbers: 

  • 32.2%
  • 27.0%
  • 20.5% 

That's the declining swing-and-miss rate on Papelbon's fastball. The less you swing and miss, the more you put balls in play, and more balls in play, the more trouble you get into.

Let's look at two years 

  • Papelbon's slugging against 2011 pct. - .299
  • Papelbon's slugging against 2013 pct. - .329
  • 2011 homers allowed - 3
  • 2013 homers allowed - 4
  • Papelbon's strike out 2011 pct. - 34.1%
  • Papelbon's strike out 2013 pct. - 22.7%
  • Papelbon's pitches in the zone 2011 pct. - 50.0%
  • Papelbon's pitches in the zone 2013 pct. - 46.8% 

That last number is particularly telling because it's indicative of Papelbon's loss of control getting into the strike zone, which enables us to comfortably to assume his control within the strike zone is not as sharp, and since his stuff is clearly not as strong, Papelbon is losing effectiveness.

And it's getting worse

Since June 17, Papelbon has appeared in 10 games, won two, saved saved, blown five saves, allowed both runners he inherited to score, and has a 3.86 ERA.

He's had just two 1-2-3 innings

You can see why he's given up 15 hits in 14 innings and batters are hitting .273 with lefties hitting .333.

Finally, why not Jonathan Papelbon?

Papelbon is making $13 million this year.

And next.

And the year after that.

And, if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 in 2014-15, he'll make another $13 million in 2016

So, there are many reasons why the Red Sox (and the Tigers and other teams looking for bullpen help) are in no rush to give up prospects and spend big money to acquire Pap, as much fun as he is to have around.

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Reader Comments (5)

I guess Mariano's 9 straight don't count and had it not been for a 28 save season, it woulda been 15 straight 30+ save seasons. Besides, Papelbon is all about the $$$. Not a team guy one bit and not worth the money Philly paid him. Let him and his me me me attitude suffer in Philly with all their pain in the ass fans

July 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCledus

You seem to forget 2012, when Mariano was injured and on the disabled list and did not record 30 saves, which is the only reason why Papelbon is the only one with seven STRAIGHT seasons of 30+ saves. Undoubtedly, Mariano is the greatest closer ever, but as far as this one statistic, he does not have seven straight 30+ seasons.

July 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Don't get me wrongt, i'm not all for Pap coming back unless the Sox give up nothing and Philly pays for half.....

However, thats absolutely ridiculous analysis.

"i'll tell you why not'???

1) If he is mixing in pitches(which he probably should have been since around 09) the "average" speed will go DOWN
2) The top speed on his fastball is still 95? and its only dropped 2 mph into his 30's? Really dummy?
And frankly, i never remember him LEGITIMATELY hitting 97+ with any regularity. Maybe a juiced gun at some podunk stadium had him at that,
but that was never that common, even when he was in his mid 20's. The key to his fastball was the "late life", not specifically the speed.
In fact, by his own admittance, especially when he blew the playoff games, he said he got too pumped on the adrenalin, tried to OVERTHROW the fastball, which lead to it "flattening out". So Paplebons fastball --- too fast=flat.......
3) Less balls in the zone? If he's now throwing more offspeed and a splitter there will be less strikes, thats kinda the idea.
Would you have criticized Schilling for burying balls in the dirt with his splitter as being LESS effective, or MORE effective??
If you were paying attention at all(and it seems you weren't) you'd realize that when Schilling had the splitter working, it was literally NEVER a strike, yet it would be his most productive pitch late in his career.

And you do this for a living?


July 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertdmpalace

I hate being the guy that just dismisses an article on one stat and having to defend a MFY, but I'll make an exception for Rivera. I'm just not a Papelbon fan and don't wish to see him back in a Red Sox uniform, so here goes :

2003 (40 saves), 2004 (53 saves), 2005 (43 saves), 2006 (34 saves), 2007 (30 saves), 2008 (39 saves), 2009 (44 saves), 2010 (33 saves), 2011 (44 saves). The stats are public knowledge and easy enough to find. He also had 5 other 30+ save seasons (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 before a 28 save season in 2002, then his run of another 9 straight began

Now surely Rivera doesn't need a Red Sox to back him up but any stat Papelbon may have, Rivera probably has done it more and better

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCledus

@Cledus. The 7 straight by Pap is a current streak whereas Marianos isn't

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrocky
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