In valuing relievers, you really have the same two questions that you have with other players — how good were they last year, and how good have they been consistently — but the consistency seems to be even more important. The samples are small and the position ages poorly, so the ability to show production from the pen year-in and year-out is valued highly. Unless you’re Joaquin Benoit, apparently. In that case, you just keep making teams look smart for signing you to smaller deals, because you keep putting up great numbers every year.
The Phillies, who just signed Benoit for one year and seven million dollars, should be happy with their acquisition on both fronts, but particularly when it comes to consistency and track record.
Since 2010, Benoit is top 20 in strikeouts minus walks among the 326 qualified relievers. He’s done it mostly on the back of a FOSH changeup — a split-finger grip changeup that comes off the lesser fingers like Tim Lincecum‘s vaunted pitch — but also by keeping his velocity up despite Father Time’s influence. In 2010, he threw 94. Last year he threw 94. Things aren’t supposed to go like this.
Anyway, between those two facts, Benoit has managed to keep his swinging strike stuff healthy. Not only is he top five since 2010 in that percentage, but he’s kept it steady every year. What has been failing, perhaps, is his command recently.
Command is represented there by walk percentage, but that’s a tough way to do things. If you like Edge% better — Edge% was developed by Bill Petti to measure how often a pitcher could throw to the edges of the strike zone — there’s a definite (bad) trend for Benoit’s balls.
|Year||Total Edge%||Edge to Heart Ratio|
Still, he throws 94 and has a changeup that was top 40 by swinging strike rate last year (minimum 100 thrown). Even at 39 years old, and in a reduced state that saw him fall to just inside the top 70 in strikeout minus walk rate last year, Benoit should help that Phillies bullpen. Because he did last year, and he does every year since he moved to the bullpen.