The Contact Tales: 2004

Starting Pitchers (Min IP: 100)

The Best:
Johan Santana 66.3%
Matt Clement 69.7%
Randy Johnson 71.2%
Jason Schmidt 71.7%
Oliver Perez/Kelvim Escobar 72.4%

This was the season that Perez convinced everyone he was turning the corner. And with good reason, beyond his friendly old-timey stats (12-10 record on a poor Pirates team, 2.98 ERA), Perez also held a 3.45 FIP and 3.55 xFIP (for reference, Felix Hernandez’ career FIP is 3.54 and xFIP is 3.43). He promptly followed this up with xFIP of 5.26, 5.24, 4.65, 4.8, and then received a $36M contract.

The Worst:
Carlos Silva 90%
Ismael Valdez 88.9%
Jimmy Gobble 88.7%
Kirk Rueter 88.6%
Aaron Sele 87.9%

Speaking of poor contracts … here’s the scary thing: Silva not only tops this contact rate in 2005, but he does even worse at missing bats in 2009. Yeah, Silva at his best gets groundballs and avoids walks – and yes, that is a successful formula – but at the same time, Silva posted xFIP of 3.94, 4.81, and 4.57 before signing his four-year, $48M poison pill that the Cubs swallowed. Nick Blackburn can only hope Bill Bavasi is a general manager when he reaches free agency.

Relief Pitchers (Min IP: 40)

The Best:
Brad Lidge 50.5%
Eric Gagne 60.1%
Francisco Rodriguez 65.9%
Dennys Reyes 66.2%
Octavio Dotel 66.2%

The 2003 post established how nasty Gagne was during these days. Yet Lidge is even nastier. His trusty slider held a 3.39 wSL/C – easily a career best. Remember, at one point, the Astros’ bullpen featured Billy Wagner, Dotel, and Lidge.

The Worst:
Paul Quantrill 92.1%
Dan Kolb 88.8%
Tim Harikkala 87.8%
Jose Mesa 86.9%
Travis Harper 86.3%

There’s nothing particularly interesting about any of these five outside of Harper’s line from June 21st, 2005: 0.2 IP, 8 H, 4 HR, 1 BB, 0 SO, 9 ER. When he entered, the Rays were ahead by two. 46 pitches later, they trailed by seven.

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Random Guy
14 years ago

I just idly clicked Nick Blackburn’s name in this article and noticed how strikingly similar his final lines were in 2008 and 2009. Seriously: has anyone in the history of the game come this close to putting up identical numbers in back to back full seasons? Weird. Maybe someone has written on this but I didn’t see anything after a quick google search.

Random Guy
14 years ago
Reply to  Random Guy

And to respond to my own query, I found this:

… which was actually written with a couple of weeks to go in the 2009 season, when Blackburn’s 2008 and 2009 stats were somewhat *less* similar than they would wind up being at the end.

I repeat: weird. Or maybe this interests only me.