2009 O’s Retrospective: Danys Baez

In part eighteen of my almost 50 series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at righty reliever Danys Baez… THE FIGHTIN’ BAD CONTRACT!

After missing 2008 with an injury, expectations weren’t high for Baez despite his $5.5 M salary (in the last year of his absurd* 3 year, $19 M deal). There was talk in Spring Training about him pitching out of the starting rotation (which didn’t come to pass), so split my projection between 35 innings of 5.47 ERA ball as a starter and 40 innings of 4.70 ERA ball as a reliever.

* The O’s paid Baez $19 M and received a total of 0.5 Wins Below Replacement of production – worth about -$1.9 M. If Baez had pitched for free the O’s still would have come out behind. That is why you don’t give middle relievers big money contracts.

Baez actually pitched pretty well, posting a 4.02 ERA in 71.2 IP. His strike-out rate was low at 5 K/9, but not too far out of line with where he was before he got hurt (5.2 K/9). He did show good control though (2.8 BB/9), and got a ton of groundballs (61%). Despite the small number of balls being put in the air, Baez gave up an average-ish 1 HR/9 due to a high 13.8% HR/FB rate. Baez’s FIP was 4.56, but his expected FIP which adjusted for the home run rate was a better 4.27. While serviceable, that only made him a slightly above replacement level pitcher (0.3 WAR).

Danys’ fastball velocity wasn’t what it once was – averaging about 92.9 mph – but it had more movement (especially sink) than it did in ’07. It was the post effective it’s been in his career, according to FanGraphs run values, at 1.3 runs better than average per 100 thrown. His splitter was also pretty good, at 0.35 runs above average per 100. Actually, it looks like the Pitch/FX data seems to lump his splitters in with his fastballs, which may account for the increased movement. In any case, his stuff was pretty good.

Baez probably won’t be back with the O’s next year – or if he will it’ll be at a much lower rate. If he could bump up his strike-out rate he might be a quality reliever, but as is he’d probably just round out some one’s bullpen.

Photo by AP.