Starting with the most basic stats, Kyle McClellan led the club with 68 appearances after having 66 and 68 the prior two years. McClellan also led the Redbirds with 75 1/3 innings pitched in relief. While the ERAs of the nine primary relievers are listed, there are better measures of effectiveness, such as Fielding Independent Pitching or FIP. That is how the list below is ordered.
In this case, whether using ERA or FIP, the name at the top of the list is the same, Jason Motte. FIP, which is intended to eliminate everything a pitcher cannot control but still uses the same scale as ERA, vaults Franklin past McClellan into second on the list. Franklin added a bullpen-high six wins. (All numbers that follow are in relief roles only – starting stats are excluded unless noted.)
Over the course of the year, lefty Trever Miller was called on to take the ball with more runners already on base than any other reliever. The veteran was most dependable, with just seven of 41 crossing the plate on his watch. That 17.1 percent mark was seventh-best among all major leaguers this past season.
Among the other relievers, Franklin edged Motte for second place. The margin was so thin that had Motte allowed one fewer inherited runner to score, he would have moved up.
The next set of basic numbers includes strikeouts and walks. This is where Franklin really shines. Not considered a strikeout pitcher by any stretch, he still fanned over four batters for every free pass issued. That mark stands head and shoulders above the other relievers. As such, Franklin also had the lowest WHIP, walks and hits per innings pitched, on the staff.
Lefties Miller and Dennys Reyes each yielded just two opposing home runs all season, while McClellan and Blake Hawksworth (as a reliever) served up nine each. Motte and McClellan both held opposing hitters to a sub-.220 batting average, best among all the relievers. Mike MacDougal was the least effective reliever on the staff by most any measurement chosen.
No one other than Franklin received more than four save opportunities. Even so, none of them were perfect. Both Motte and McClellan blew one of three chances given them. Franklin's conversion rate of 93.1 percent was second in the National League, trailing only San Diego's Heath Bell (94%).
A very important measure for a reliever is to retire his first batter faced. Franklin was superior to the all the other Cardinals relievers, setting down over 71 percent of his initial hitters all season long. A bit surprisingly, Hawksworth was the only other bullpenner better than 70 percent.
Putting all this together, Ryan Franklin is The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals Reliever of the Year for the second consecutive summer with Jason Motte and Kyle McClellan receiving very honorable mentions.
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