Rookies Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez were very effective, but missed large blocks of time due to injury. The late-season additions from Toronto, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, put up some nice numbers. Joining the club during August, 41-year-old Arthur Rhodes performed a bit more like the stalwart from Cincinnati in 2008-09 than the lefty released by Texas this summer.
Though Boggs appeared in 51 games, he disappeared from sight on several occasions, including a demotion to Triple-A shortly after having lost the closer's job. Further, his stats were not comparable to the other two.
Let's look at the basic numbers.
Each has his strengths. Salas had the edge over Motte in a lower opponent batting average and by striking out a batter per inning. He also had a superior WAR (Wins Over Replacement) value. Motte had a slightly lower ERA (though the two are very, very close) and a little better strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Though Lynn, Sanchez and Dotel are not in contention for the award, notice their good numbers, though their ERAs are moderated a bit by their FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) values. Also note the homeritis that affected both McClellan and Franklin.
Salas really excelled in keeping his first batter faced off the basepaths. Only Dotel (whose full-season numbers are listed in this table) was better.
Motte was asked to come in to pitch more often with runners on base. His rate of those inherited runners eventually scoring was a bit higher than Salas.
Though Motte ended the regular season as the club's closer after a very strong stretch as set-up man, Salas actually logged a higher save percentage over the course of the season.
That may change in 2012, but all things considered, Fernando Salas narrowly edged out Jason Motte as the winner of The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year award.
The bigger picture
The 2011 Cardinals' bullpen's blown save mark rightfully garnered a lot of attention, but that isn't the whole story. Overall, the group performed comparably to the 2010 relievers and in several cases, better.
Similar areas include win-loss percentage, innings pitched, home runs and walks allowed. The 2011 relievers had a lower opponent batting average, ERA and a significantly higher strikeout total. This performance leads to optimism for 2012 as the younger relievers gain more experience.
Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2011 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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