Baseball’s Best Bullpen: Midseason…

Before the start of the 2009 season, I did a “Baseball’s Best” series. Based on a scoring system, I graded each team’s bullpen, starting rotation, infield, and outfield to find out which team had baseball’s best in each aspect of the game.

Now that most teams have played around 80 games, I think it’s time to give an update to my baseball’s best series. We will start with baseball’s best bullpen at the midseason point in baseball.

Before the season started, I had the Boston Red Sox having the best bullpen in baseball. That was based on four categories – 2008 ERA, left-handed relievers, right-handed relievers, and closer.

Now that we have some stats to play with, we will determine who has the best bullpen with these four categories – Bullpen ERA, Holds, Save Percentage, and Batting Average Against. It’s not all about ERA. There are other factors which determine how good a team’s bullpen is.

Each category is worth 10 points. 10 being the best and one being the worst for that particular category. If a team was not in the top 10 baseball in that particular category, that team received zero points.

Here are the best bullpens at the midway point of the 2009 season…

10 – 7. Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, San Francisco Giants

4 (Tie). Seattle Mariners – 21 points

ERA – Seven

Holds – Six

BAA – Four

Save Percentage – Four

Analysis – The Seattle Mariners’ bullpen is the surprise of this group. Coming into this season there wasn’t much expected out of this unit, but they have gotten amazing performances from some of their relievers.

Led by David Aardsma (17 saves, 1.41 ERA), Sean White (2.84 ERA), and Miguel Batista (3.30 ERA) this group has helped the Mariners stay in contention in the AL West.

 4 (Tie). Los Angeles Dodgers – 21 points

ERA – Six

Holds – Five

BAA. – Ten

Save Percentage – Zero

Analysis – 80 games into the season and Joe Torre hasn’t blown out any reliiever’s arm yet. That must be some sort of record. In all seriousness, what makes the Dodgers bullpen so effective is that they have a hammer at the end of the game in Jonathan Broxton.

Broxton has had a solid year so far with a 6-0 record with 20 saves and a 2.72 ERA. Surprisingly, even with Broxton at the end of the game, the Dodgers aren’t in the top 10 in save percentage.

The Dodgers have also had great contributions from 26-year olds Ramon Troncoso (1.87 ERA and eight holds), Brett Leach (3.06 ERA), and Roland Belisario (2.42 ERA and 10 holds).

4 (Tie). Milwaukee Brewers – 21 points

ERA – Three

Holds – Seven

BAA. – Eight

Save Percentage – Three

Analysis – The Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen has a 16-9 record with a 3.58 ERA at the midway point. Their success can be attributed to the signing of future Hall of Famer and a guy who should be an All-Star, Trevor Hoffman.

Hoffman has been lights out this year to the tune of a 1.93 ERA and 18 saves. The Brewers’ bullpen has also been paced by Mitch Stetter (2-0 with 14 holds and a 2.28 ERA), Mark DiFelice (4-1 with eight holds and a 1.95 ERA), and big Todd Coffey (3-1 with 12 holds and a 2.63 ERA).

Papelbon is a hammer for the Sox

Papelbon is a hammer for the Sox

3. Boston Red Sox – 23 points

ERA – Ten

Holds – Zero

BAA. – Five

Save Percentage – Eight

Analysis – Despite having the best bullpen ERA in baseball (3.18 ERA), the Boston Red Sox fell a little short of mainaining their baseball’s best bullpen status as they did in my preseason edition.

The Red Sox have power arm after power arm in their bullpen. Like the Dodgers, the Red Sox also have a hammer at the end of their bullpen in Jonathan Papelbon (20 saves and a 1.75 ERA).

The Red Sox bullpen also features Hideki Okajima (3.25 ERA and 15 holds), Manny Delcarmen (1.97 ERA), Ramon Ramirez (2.25 ERA) and Daniel Bard (3.10 and 20 K’s in 20.1 IP).

2. St. Louis Cardinals – 25 points

ERA – Zero

Holds – Ten

BAA. – Six

Save Percentage – Nine

Analysis – Dave Duncan is a master at getting the most out of other team’s castoffs. You know he is doing a great job when Ryan Franklin has 20 saves and a 0.84 ERA in 31 games. Franklin is a well deserved All-Star and has really helped stabilize the Cardinals’ pen.

Despite their ERA’s north of four, Jason Motte and Dennys Reyes have a combined 28 holds for the Cardinals. The Cardinals also feature Trevor Miller, who has held lefties to a .118 avg in 51 AB’s.

Cordero leads the best bullpen in baseball

Cordero leads the best bullpen in baseball

1. Cincinnati Reds – 36 points

ERA – Nine

Holds – Eight

BAA. – Nine

Save Percentage – Ten

Analysis – I know the Reds’ pen was having a good season, but they really ran away with this. The Reds were top three in all four categories – very impressive.

The Reds have four relievers – Nick Masset (1.67), Francisco Cordero (1.80), the ageless Arthur Rhodes (1.88), and Danny Herrera (1.97) who have ERA’s under two. That is pretty amazing this late into the season.

The Reds also have another ageless wonder in David Weathers who has a 2.63 ERA in 31 appearances. The Reds’ bullpen has helped them keep pace in the competitive NL Central.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at baseball’s best starting rotation at the midway point of the season.

* All stats were calculated before Monday’s action. The Reds’ 22-1 loss on Monday night to the Phillies did not factor into this.


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2 Responses to “Baseball’s Best Bullpen: Midseason…”

  1. TheCrippesKing Says:

    There must have been an update at some point. I swear the Giants were left off when I read this before work. I was gonna comment on how I was shocked they didn’t even break the top 10. So, either I misread it, or there was an update. Either way, Go Giants.

    • Adam Bernacchio Says:

      Hi Crippes King,

      Yeah I did update the post to include the SF Giants. It was a rough morning and I accidently left them off.

      No misread on your part – just an update.

      Thanks for reading,

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