There are many ways a player can be impressive. If I were asked to rattle off a list of the five most impressive players in baseball, it would look something like Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Roy Halladay, Mariano Rivera and Justin Verlander. Each player is impressive in subtly different ways, although they all share one characteristic: they are superbly good at what they do.
Perhaps more impressive is when a player performs terribly yet continues to be used. Below, we have the names of the 13 pitchers who have pitched at least 20 innings this season and have walked more batters than they struck out.
Name Team IP K/BB K/9 BB/9 ERA Active? Vin Mazzaro Royals 24.1 0.6 3.33 5.55 9.25 No Adam Russell Rays 32.2 0.65 3.58 5.51 3.03 No Chien-Ming Wang Nats 38.2 0.69 2.09 3.03 4.19 Yes Sean O'Sullivan Royals 53.1 0.69 3.04 4.39 6.92 No Ryan Mattheus Nats 30.0 0.79 3.3 4.2 2.4 No David Purcey Tigers 33.2 0.81 5.88 7.22 5.61 No A. Sonnanstine Rays 34.2 0.83 2.6 3.12 5.71 No Jose Mijares Twins 42.1 0.85 4.89 5.74 4.68 Yes Miguel Batista Mets 35.1 0.86 4.84 5.6 4.33 Yes Pat Neshek Padres 24.2 0.91 7.3 8.03 4.01 No Kyle Drabek Jays 72.2 0.92 5.94 6.44 5.7 No Scott Proctor Yankees 29.1 0.95 5.52 5.83 6.44 No Brad Hand Marlins 39.2 0.96 5.45 5.67 4.08 Yes
Let’s break down our list into various groupings.
Guys who are active
Only five of 13 are active as of today. Of all our contestants, Wang gets the benefit of the doubt as he tries to work back from long term shoulder ailments. Even prior to this season, Wang thrived by limiting walks and home runs by racking up ground balls. At this point, the Nationals are probably hoping for him to eat innings and nothing more.
Batista and Hand also fall into the “please eat innings” category. The Mets brought Batista aboard to take the strain off a very thin pitching staff while Hand has bounced between Triple-A and the majors as a swing man.
Then there’s Mijares. Thanks in part to a lack of any real alternatives in Twinkie-land, Mijares is the only of our infamous 13 who is receiving regular playing time based solely on his ability to get outs.
Proctor got called up by the Yankees yesterday for expanded rosters and probably qualifies as an afterthought.
Pitchers who hate walks…
…and simply hate strikeouts even more. When I compiled this list, I thought I’d find a few pitchers who fit this category. Alas, only two fit this mold, Wang (again) and Sonnanstine. The Rays have too much talent to give any more innings to Sonnanstine; he’ll almost certainly be non-tendered this offseason.
Guys who got cut
Russell, Neshek and Purcey are no longer on their respective 40-man rosters. All three are veterans, so it’s not surprising that teams took their look, weren’t impressed, and moved on fairly quickly. Neshek might be the outlier of the bunch as the only guy who struck out more than six batters per nine innings (7.3 K/9). If only he hadn’t walked nearly a batter per inning.
Other notable qualities
Drabek pitched the most innings and is the only bona fide prospect in the group.
Three of the 13—Purcey, Batista and Proctor—have spent time on the active roster of more than one team. Purcey saw action with three teams.
Ryan Mattheus is the only one currently on the disabled list. Wang and Neshek were coming off the disabled list.
Seven of the pitchers have made starts this season and 10 have made relief appearances. Four have performed both duties.
The Nationals, Royals, and Rays all have two representatives on the list, and the National League East has the most representatives (five) and teams represented (five).