Thursday, March 17, 2011
30 A's in 30 Days: Brad Ziegler
Acquired: Signed as free agent (June 18, 2004).
Contract: Signed through 2011 (eligible for arbitration after 2011).
Position: Situational right-handed reliever; an appalling influence on my seven-year-old son.
2011 Projected ERA: 3.44
2010 Season: The normalization of Brad Ziegler continued last year. His record-breaking career-starting scoreless innings streak in 2008 – combined with his affable, approachable personality – made Ziegler an instant favorite among A's fans. In 2009, he posted numbers that were better than they appeared on the surface, but still an expected regression in some areas from the year before. In 2010, Ziegler took several more small steps backwards. His walks per nine innings topped 4.0 for the first time (4.15), while his groundball percentage (54.4%) and groundball-to-fly ball ratio (2.02) were easily the lowest of his three-year career. Inducing groundballs – and a reliance on the A's excellent infield defense – has been Ziegler's primary mutant power at the Major League level. Is this the start of Decimation Redux or just typical reliever volatility?
2011 Over/Under: It is grotesquely oversimplified to state that Major League hitters eventually figure out sidearm or submarine-style pitchers. All pitchers, regardless of how they throw, have to make adjustments at this level and they're ability to do so is just one of the factors that determines success and longevity. That said; it sure SEEMS like sidearm or submarine-style pitchers enjoy a relatively shorter peak. Cla Meredith and Chad Bradford come to mind as pitchers who were tremendously effective for just a season or two, before settling into solid – albeit unspectacular – careers. I'm taking the OVER based entirely on my unsubstantiated data.
By the Numbers: .800, .912 and 1.034 – Ziegler's OPS against left-handed hitters in 2008, 2009 and 2010. His career OPS versus righties is a much more impressive .565. Southpaws such as Tony Fossas and Jesse Orosco enjoyed long careers in the bullpen as relievers brought to face just one left-handed hitter, but their right-handed equivalents seem to flame out much faster.
Surefire 2011 Prediction: My seven-year-old son, Jalen, has been fascinated with Ziegler's sidearm delivery for years. During our illicit games of "living room baseball" – when my wife's not around – Jalen will contort his right arm in a way that kinda-sorta mimics Ziegler's throwing motion. At some point during the 2011 Little League season – inspired by Ziegler – Jalen will sidearm a throw to first base. The resultant two-base error will lead to taunting and booing until my throat is sore.
Old School Rap Track for the Season: Ain't Sayin' Nothing New, The Roots