Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Closing the deal

Alright, after waaay too long of a wait for something many of you won't even need, here's the Armando Benitez/Robb Nen/Dustin Hermanson comparison.

As I said before, I'm sure most of you (especially Giants fans) have a crystal clear understanding of why I'm not going to include Matt Herges (1.70 WHIP) in this comparison despite the fact that he...led...the Giants with 24 saves in 2004. Herges (5.23 ERA) wasn't a bad choice to begin with, as his numbers from 2003 were nice, but staying with Herges (5.4 k's per 9) after he began to tank wasn't one of Felipe Alou's better moves last season.

Hermanson's going to have a small sample size, because I'd rather focus on his numbers from the time he began to close last season, rather than throwing in his starter's statistics. No, I don't totally buy in to the "closer's mentality" argument, therefore I do believe that Hermanson's stats as a starter have great bearing on what he's capable of. However, it's well documented that Hermanson changed his style of pitching after being chosen to be the closer, therefore I think certain numbers (like k's per 9) will reflect a different pitcher.

Hermanson (2004): 4.33 ERA/1.2 WHIP/9.3 k's per 9/3.7 bb's per 9/.224 BAA (batting average against)

Hermanson's number were very...closer-like in the couple of months he had the role. The ERA can be attributed to one nasty (and unfortunate) outing at the end of the season where he gave up four earned runs in all of 2/3rd's of an inning against the Dodgers -- a loss that ended the Giants quest for an NL West pennant. His WHIP is low, his k's per 9 is high, and his batting average against is stingy.

Now, on to Benitez...

Benitez (2004): 1.29 ERA/0.83 WHIP/8.2 k's per 9/2.8 bb's per 9/.152 BAA

Okay, so while Hermanson had some good closer numbers, they sure weren't on par with Benitez, who did it over a full season. Benitez' OPS against was .477, which basically means it was like he faced Neifi Perez in a hitting slump all season (yes, I know, Neifi in a hitting slump is a redundant term, but I'll use it anyway). The only advantage Hermanson has is in k's per 9, but of course we can't really count on that because El Diablo only did it over a 2 month span.

Now we'll do Nen, but we'll have to use Nen's 2002 numbers to compare, since the only thing Nen's closed in the last two seasons has been doors.

Nen (2002): 2.20 ERA/1.14 WHIP/9.9 k's per 9/2.4 bb's per 9

So as you can see, Benitez' 2004 is easily comparable to Nen's 2002. Nen has the better k's per 9 and lower walk rate, but Benitez has that miniscule WHIP.

Where does all that crap leave the Giants for 2005?

Heh, well Nen's 9 million bucks will finally be off the books, and barring a near-miracle, he won't be returning to Elite Closer status for the rest of his career. Hermanson has signed with the Chicago White Sox, where he'll likely be a set-up man, rendering my musings on whether or not he could be a closer a moot point. It's obvious that Benitez is a huge upgrade over what the Giants had, and that he's comparable with Nen, but whether he'll be enough to stabilize a Giants 'pen that was the Achilles heel of the team last year remains to be seen.

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