2009 O’s Retrospective: George Sherrill

In part forty-eight of my almost 50* part series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at lefty reliever George Sherrill… THE FIGHTIN’ BRIM REAPER!

* And by “almost 50″, I mean 48.

Sherrill came over to the Orioles from Seattle in the Erik Bedard trade, and did a fine job after being installed as the O’s closer, saving 31 games in 2008 and being named the team’s only All-Star. Going into 2009, I projected Ol’ Flat Breezy to pitch 55 innings with a 3.79 ERA.

At 32 years old, it was always a consideration that the Orioles would try to trade Sherrill if the opportunity presented itself. Luckily* it did, as Sherrill was very effective as the closer to start the year with a 2.40 ERA in 41.1 IP. His strike-out rate went down to 8.5 K/9 (compared to 9.8 K/9 in ’08), but his control improved greatly from 5.6 BB/9 to 2.8 BB/9. That success allowed the O’s to deal Sherrill at the trade dead-line to the Dodgers for prospects Josh Bell and Steven Johnson. He didn’t pitch quite as well for LA, with his K/BB ratio dropping from 3 to 2, but he only gave up 2 runs (on a two-run homer) in his entire 27.2 IP stint.

* I thought that maybe they should have dealt him when things were going well in ’08, but patience seemed to work out well for Andy MacPhail.

Things didn’t go quite so well in the playoffs though, as Sherrill gave up 4 runs on a 4 walks and a home run in just 4.1 IP. That the homer was hit by a left-handed batter (Raul Ibanez) was a bit surprising, given that he absolutely dominated lefties for the season to the tune of a .128/.188/.154 batting line against.

For fun, here are the locations of the sliders that Sherrill threw to lefties last year. Have fun with that pitch guys.

Overall, Sherrill hit career highs in innings pitched (69), ERA (1.70), and Wins Above Replacement (1.4). For his career, he’s been better at limiting the home run ball than one would expect given his flyball rates, and 2009 was no exception as his FIP (3.12) was once again much better than his xFIP (4.16). Now that he’s starting to make some real money in his second year of arbitration though, there’s not a ton of excess value left for whatever team control’s Sherrill’s rights. That may be why the Dodgers were talking about maybe trading him themselves (that, and their owner’s potential financial issues).

No matter where Sherrill ends up, I hope he continues doing well. In his brief time in Baltimore – despite a few stressful ninth innings – he certainly became a fan favorite.

And so ends the Orioles Retrospective series for 2009, fittingly with the Brim Reaper closing it out. It was long, but interesting and fun – and I hope everyone enjoyed looking back on the players that made up the 2009 Orioles. If all goes well, I’ll probably do it again next. Hopefully with a little less roster turnover.

Photo by AP.