Johnson City Cards Reliever of the Year: 2010

Hector Corpas, a 20-year old from Panama City, Panama, is The Cardinal Nation 2010 Johnson City Cardinals Reliever of the Year.

With the tandem (piggy-back) starting pitcher system utilized at Johnson City this year, the relievers often struggled to get noticed.  This report will give the relievers credit for the hard work they did.  The report will review who was eligible for "Reliever of the Year", provide detailed end-of-the-year statistics, and will break down the statistics to support the final reliever rankings. 


Who Were Johnson City's Relievers?


The roster saw a total of seven relievers during the 2010 season.  All seven relievers played exclusively for Johnson City and always pitched in the reliever role within the tandem starting pitcher system. 


Pitchers Eligible for Johnson City Reliever of the Year (7):  Hector Corpas, Aidan Lucas, Drew Benes, Bob Revesz, Iden Nazario, Francisco Guzman, and Chris Patterson (pictured), who retired during the season. 


NOTE:  Since Chris Patterson retired, he was ranked seventh. 


Did Any Relievers Lose Playing Time During the Year? 


Only one reliever lost significant playing time due to injury during the season.   


Bob Revesz, pictured, suffered some stiffness and soreness in his pitching arm after his second relief appearance of the year (Game 7).  Revesz missed 13 games (3 or 4 appearances). 


P Hector Corpas felt a little "tenderness" (per Manager Mike Shildt) in his pitching arm after Game 58 (August 23 and the second of back-to-back appearances).  Corpas was prescribed rest and did not undergo any specific treatment for any ailment.  The Cardinals sat him for four days (probably one missed appearance) in an abundance of caution.  They likely lost the game on August 27 (Bob Revesz blown save) due to the tenderness. 


One reliever underwent a significant alteration to his delivery mechanics and thus lost some playing time. 


Iden Nazario, pictured, was only allowed to pitch in non-save situations.  Since only one third of the games were decided by more than three runs, that severely limited Nazario's opportunities to pitch. 


Reliever Statistics


Statistical Acronyms: 


BAA is batting average allowed.  The lower the better.  A number of .200 or below is very good.   


BABIP is batting average on balls in play.  This is a measure of the number of batted balls, excluding home runs, which are hits.  The exact formula used here for a pitcher is (H-HR)/(BF-BB-HBP-SO-HR).  The average pitcher BABIP is about .300.  Numbers significantly lower than .300 normally indicate that a pitcher was "lucky".  Numbers significantly higher than .300 normally indicate that a pitcher was "unlucky". 


BB is a walk.  The fewer the better. 


BB/9 is walks allowed per nine innings pitched.  The lower the better.  BB/9 = 9*BB/IP.


BF is batters faced.


BS is a blown save.  The fewer the better. 


CS is the number of base runners caught stealing while the pitcher was pitching. 


CS% is a calculation of the percent of base runners caught stealing while the pitcher was on the mound.  Although catchers typically have more control over CS% than pitchers, the higher this is the better.  CS% = 100*CS/(SB + CS). 


ER is earned runs allowed.  A run is "earned" if bad fielding defense didn't contribute to the run scoring. 


ERA is earned run average.  ERA is calculated as nine times the earned runs allowed divided by the innings pitched.  ERA = 9*ER/IP. 


FIP is fielding independent pitching.  It is similar to ERA and uses a constant to allow comparison to ERA.  It is a measure of all things directly under a pitcher's control.  The formula used is [(HR*13 + (BB+HBP-IBB)*3 - SO*2)/IP] + 3.2.  FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, independent of how well the fielders fielded.  The lower the FIP the better. 


G is the number of games appeared in. 


GF is the number of games the pitcher finished.  The "closer" typically leads the team.  


GO/AO is ground out per air out.  With the Cardinal organizational preference of pitchers "pitching to contact" with a good sinker, the bigger the GO/AO, the better.   A pitcher with a GO/AO of two or greater relies heavily on a sinker such as a slider, cut fastball, splitter, or 2-seam fastball. 


H is hits allowed.  The fewer the better.


H/9 is hits allowed per nine innings pitched.  The lower the better.  H/9 = 9*H/IP. 


HBP is hit by pitch.  This can be a good or bad stat.  The bad side is that it leads to a base runner.  The good side is that it shows that a pitcher is willing to pitch inside. 


HLD is a hold.  The more the better.  However, don't read too much into this stat.  A pitcher can pitch poorly and still record a hold.


HR is home runs allowed.  The fewer the better.


H/9 is home runs allowed per nine innings pitched.  The lower the better.  HR/9 = 9*HR/IP.


IBB is intentional walks. 


Inherited is the number of runners that were on base when a pitcher entered a game. 


IP is innings pitched.  To be considered a league leader in the Appy League, a pitcher needed to maintain a minimum of 0.8 IP per "league-game".  That corresponds to 54 and 2/3 IP.  With a piggy-back or tandem starting pitching system, the maximum number of IP is roughly 60 for a starter.  The maximum number of IPs for a Johnson City reliever was 25 and 1/3 IP. 


IS% is the percentage of inherited runners that scored.  The lower the better.  A pitcher with a low IS% is more likely to be inserted in a game during an inning (rather than starting his own inning).  IS% = 100*Scored/Inherited. 


L is left handed.


R is runs allowed or right handed.  The fewer runs the better.


RISP is runners in scoring position (second or third base).  


SB is stolen bases allowed.  The catcher typically has more control over this stat however, a big number is not good for a pitcher. 


Scored is the number of inherited runners that scored.  The fewer that score the better. 


SO is a strikeout.  The more the better.


SO/9 is strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  The bigger the better.  These are almost always higher for relievers since they pitch fewer innings.  SO/9 = 9*SO/IP.


SO/BB is strikeouts per walk.  The bigger the better. 


SV is a save.  The more the better.


SV% is save percentage.  SV% is calculated as 100 times the saves divided by the sum of saves and blown saves.  SV% = 100*SV/(SV+BS). 


W is wins.  Due to limited pitch counts for the starters, relievers get a lot of these.


WHIP is walks plus hits per inning pitched.  The lower the better.  1.0 and below is considered very good.  WHIP = (BB+H)/IP. 


WP is a wild pitch.  Catchers can have a big impact on this stat however, in general, the more WPs, the less control the pitcher has of his pitches.  Therefore, the fewer the better. 


Listed in the table below are some of the key statistics for Johnson City relievers in 2010.  "Rank" is how the six relievers were ranked.  This ranking was based on statistics and first-hand observations during the games. 


Reliever Corpas Benes Lucas Guzman Revesz Nazario Patterson
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Age 20.7 yr 21.9 yr 22.4 yr 22.6 yr 22.2 yr 21.5 yr 22.5 yr
W 0 1 2 1 4 1 2
L 1 0 1 0 2 0 1
ERA 2.13 1.52 3.32 4.98 4.84 4.09 5.11
FIP 1.94 2.48 3.15 3.34 4.23 4.65 3.04
G 24 18 24 17 16 11 11
GF 21 4 10 3 5 9 4
SV 17 0 3 1 1 0 1
BS 3 1 1 1 1 0 1
SV% 85% 0% 75% 50% 50% NA 50%
HLD 0 3 7 2 1 0 4
IP 25.1 23.2 21.2 21.2 22.1 11 12.1
H 19 20 19 29 24 7 13
R 6 8 9 12 16 6 7
ER 6 4 8 12 12 5 7
HR 2 1 0 1 2 3 3
BB 3 6 4 4 5 8 7
SO 27 22 19 19 17 15 16
HBP 0 3 4 1 1 3 3
WP 4 0 5 1 1 3 2
BF 95 100 93 93 95 49 58
SB 2 2 0 1 0 0 1
CS 2 1 0 0 3 0 0
CS% 50% 33% NA 0% 100% NA 0%
PO 0 2 0 0 1 0 0
WHIP 0.87 1.1 1.06 1.52 1.3 1.36 1.62
BABIP 0.281 0.29 0.277 0.403 0.304 0.273 0.406
BAA 0.209 0.225 0.224 0.33 0.276 0.189 0.271
BAA vs. R 0.231 0.266 0.232 0.31 0.266 0.185 0.216
BAA vs. L 0.154 0.12 0.188 0.367 0.304 0.2 0.455
Inherited 11 15 15 10 9 8 11
Scored 3 6 7 3 3 0 3
IS% 27% 40% 47% 30% 33% 0% 27%
GO/AO 1.04 1.24 1.65 2.75 2.38 0.33 1.71
H/9 6.8 7.6 7.9 12 9.7 5.7 9.5
HR/9 0.4 0 0.4 0.8 1.2 0.8 0
BB/9 1.1 2.3 1.7 1.7 2 6.5 5.1
SO/9 9.6 8.4 7.9 7.9 6.9 12.3 11.7
SO/BB 9 3.7 4.8 4.8 3.4 1.9 2.3


Reliever Team Statistics and Summary


The good thing about being a reliever in a tandem starting pitcher system is that your win –loss percentage will usually be good.  The seven relievers combined for an 11-5 record with 23 saves over 138 IP (23.5% of the team's total IPs).  As a group, they averaged 8.5 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 8.8 SO/9, and 3.6 SO/BB.  They combined for a 1.22 WHIP, 3.52 ERA, a 74% save percentage, and to allow 32% of their inherited runners to score.  They caught 50% of the possible base stealers.  Hector Corpas led the league in saves (17) and was voted Reliever of the Year in the Appy League. 


It was pretty clear from both the statistics and from watching the games that there were three relievers regularly performing very well for Johnson City (Corpas, Benes, and Lucas) and three relievers that were less consistent (Guzman, Revesz, and Nazario).  Corpas, Benes, and Lucas saw most of their action in games where the Cardinals were leading while Guzman, Revesz, and Nazario saw more action in the games the Cardinals were losing or winning by a large margin. 


The Rankings Explained


#1 Hector Corpas:  Corpas, Benes, and Lucas all served in different roles for the team but it wasn't very difficult to rank the best of the three.  Corpas has the best strikeout pitch and the best control.  Corpas has a great split fingered fastball (splitty) that fooled batters all year long.  His splitty grip is shown in the picture below.  Corpas led all relievers with 17 SV, 0.87 WHIP, 0 HB, 1.1 BB/9, 9.0 SO/BB, 1.94 FIP, and .083 BAA with RISP and two outs.  Corpas' 1.94 FIP was the best amongst the relievers (by far).  Corpas was also the youngest reliever (20.7 years old).  The only team in the local area that displayed pitch velocities this year was the Bristol White Sox.  Bristol's stadium gun was about 2 MPH slower than the Cardinals' radar gun, based on data for Trevor Rosenthal.  Corpas sat 90-91 MPH and touched 92 MPH with his fastball on the stadium display during two August games.  The velocities were recorded during two very consistent games on August 7 (Corpas' 11th save) and August 22 (15th save).  All four of his strikeouts against the seven batters he faced in these two games were recorded with 82-83 MPH split finger fastballs.  Three of the four were on 0-2 pitches and one was on a 2-2 pitch.  Three of the four were swinging strikeouts.  He only appeared to use two pitches although the two appeared to be very effective.  Corpas felt his pitching arm tenderness a couple of days after the August 22 appearance.  Corpas struck out 28.4% of the batters he faced and led all relievers by walking just 3.2% of the batters he faced.  Of the five relievers with 93 to 100 BF, Corpas had the lowest ground out percentage of batters faced (25.3%). 



#2 Drew Benes:  This choice was difficult.  Lucas appeared to be more trusted by the coaches to hold leads but Benes, pictured below, appeared to improve a lot during the year.  Benes and Lucas were virtually identical in most statistics.  Benes' advantages over Lucas were a FIP that was more than half a run per game better, allowing no home runs while facing 100 batters, the lowest BAA of all relievers against lefties (he is a righty!), and the best actual ERA of all the relievers.  Benes led all relievers with a 1.52 ERA, 100 BF, 0.0 HR/9, a .120 BAA vs. L, and 2 PO.  At the "Meet the Cardinals" in June, Benes ranked his two and four seam fastballs as his best pitches but pointed out that he has been working on a cutter for the last six months that is a new pitch for him.  He ranked the cutter above his changeup and curve.  The only game that pitch velocities were recorded for Benes was August 7 (19 pitches, 11 strikes, 5 BF).  Benes sat 87-88 MPH and touched 89 MPH with his fastball.  He threw seven pitches in the 72-78 MPH range and recorded strikes on three of them (one called, two swinging, and one strikeout).  He threw two pitches at 84-85 MPH (foul and double). 



#3 Aidan Lucas:  The exciting part about Aidan Lucas, similar to Benes, is that he is relatively new to pitching.  A very good argument could be made to rank Lucas in front of Benes.  One concern with Lucas is his problem with losing control of his curve ball.  He noted that as a problem when he was at Denison (OH) where he recorded 15 hit batters in 10 G.  The problem appeared to improve but continued as a pro when he led all relievers with 4 HBP and 5 WP in 24 G.  Lucas, shown below, led the team with 24 G and 7 HLD.  He had the worst BAA with RISP for all seven relievers (.321).  His 1.06 WHIP, 4.8 SO/BB, and 1.7 BB/9 were second best among the relievers.  He doesn't appear to be that "athletic" on the mound and could benefit from the extra conditioning he will get the next few years. 



#4 Francisco Guzman:  Guzman may have been the most inconsistent of all the relievers this year.  His best outing was a spot "start" on the back end of the tandem system on July 21 against the Elizabethton Twins when Trevor Rosenthal was injured.  Guzman, pictured below, faced just nine batters over three innings (36 pitches, 25 strikes, 8-for-9 first pitch strikes, 3 SO).  Guzman led all relievers (and all starters but one) with 35.5 % of his batters faced grounding out.  He also led all relievers (and all starters but one) in the percentage of his batters faced that either grounded out or struck out (55.9%).  Although a groundball pitcher's BABIP will tend to be a little bit higher, Guzman was pretty unlucky with a .403 BABIP.  He led all relievers with a 2.75 GO/AO but was last among the relievers with 12.0 H/9, a .330 BAA, and a .310 BAA vs. R (he is a righty).  His 2010 BABIP would indicate that his 2011 campaign should be a good one.  His pictures show that he throws a little bit across his body and that his plant foot angle varies from pitch-to-pitch. 



#5 Bob Revesz:  The first left hander in the rankings recorded a 4.23 FIP and, like Guzman, was a little bit inconsistent during the year.  Revesz, pictured below, had a couple of very good outings in extra inning games (2.68 FIP) but struggled in the ninth inning (6.99 FIP).  He was much better on the road (2.72 FIP) than at home (5.70 FIP) and was death against lefties (1.64 FIP and 10.5 SO/9).  Revesz led all relievers with 4 W and a .200 BAA vs. the leadoff hitter.  He was last amongst the relievers with 6.9 SO/9, 1.2 HR/9, .368 BAA with runners on base and .273 BAA with RISP and two outs.  Revesz doesn't appear to have much velocity although only six of his 15 pitch velocities were recorded on August 7:  80, 79, 86, 77, 88, and 80 MPH.  Revesz told me in June that his three best pitches (in best to worst order) were a two seam fastball, a four seam fastball, and a slider.   Revesz had the lowest strikeout rate (17.9% of BF) of all the relievers.  His slider helped him achieve the reliever's second best groundout rate (32.6% of BF).  His future could be as a LOOGY (lefty one out guy). 



#6 Iden Nazario:  The good news with Nazario is that he probably has the most velocity of all the relievers.  He told me in June that he has been clocked at 95 MPH but he is probably very close to Corpas in velocity.  The bad news is his walk rate (16.3% of BF, 6.5 BB/9, and 1.9 SO/BB).  He led all relievers with 12.3 SO/9, 5.7 H/9, 0% IS, .189 BAA, .185 BAA vs. R (he is a lefty), .143 BAA with runners on base, and .071 BAA with RISP.  His 4.65 FIP was the worst among the relievers and his .273 BABIP indicated that he was perhaps a little bit lucky.  His alarmingly low 0.33 GO/AO and 8.2% GO of BF was consistent with his preference for throwing his two seam and four seam fastballs over his changeup.   There is a big upside with Nazario if the alterations to his mechanics result in better control.  He led all relievers with 30.6% SO of BF.  I hope Iden (pronounced eye-dean) and the Cardinal pitching coaches can prove my ranking wrong over the next few years. 


#7 Chris Patterson:  It's too bad Patterson decided to retire.  He was a poster child for being unlucky this year.  He recorded a team worst 5.11 ERA and 1.62 WHIP but had the third best FIP 3.04 and the highest (most unlucky) .406 BABIP.  His control was not good (5.1 BB/9 and 2.3 SO/BB) but his strikeout rate (11.7 SO/9 and 27.6% SO of BF) were very good.  He probably would have ranked third or fourth had he not retired and had pitched the entire season. 


Reliever Fielding


As a team, Johnson City finished eighth in team fielding percentage (.961).  They committed 103 errors (12 by pitchers) for an average of 1.6 errors per game.  The team allowed 63 unearned runs in 66 games to finish fifth in that category.  The relievers suffered 10 of the unearned runs (4 each from Revesz and Benes).  Half of Benes' runs allowed (8) were unearned. 


All of the pitchers combined for 12 errors, however, the seven relievers, despite pitching over 23% of the innings, committed just one error (Revesz throwing error in late June). 


Overall, the relievers were about the same (50 CS%) as the starters (58 CS%) at catching base stealers but the left-handed relievers (100 CS%) were much better than the right-handed relievers (33 CS%). 


Left-Handed Relievers (2):
0 3 100% 1
Right-Handed Relievers (5):
6 3 33% 2


Reliever Regular Season League Leaders


Hector Corpas (0-1, 2.13 ERA) led the league in saves (17), games finished (21), and games (24).


Aidan Lucas (2-1, 3.32 ERA) led the league in holds (7) and games (24). 


Chris Patterson (2-1, 5.11 ERA) was tied for second in the league in holds (4).


Drew Benes (1-0, 1.52 ERA) was tied for sixth in the league in holds (3).


Reliever Postseason


The "relievers" for the playoffs were Corpas, Rosenthal, Benes, Lucas, Guzman, and Revesz.  It would not surprise me if Trevor Rosenthal is converted to a reliever after this year.  His elbow pain and late inning struggles in his last "start" could be the start of a very good career as a reliever.


The relievers combined for a 2.32 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and 10.8 SO/9 over 11 and two thirds (32% of the total) innings pitched.  They led the league with three holds and one save in four games.  Their ERA and BB/9 were slightly worse than the starters but their WHIP and SO/9 were slightly better.   


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