Johnson City Cards 2009 Reliever of the Year

Aaron Terry, the Cardinals 42nd round pick in the 2009 First Year Player Draft, is our 2009 Johnson City Cardinals Reliever of the Year.

With the tandem (piggy-back) starting pitching system utilized at Johnson City this year, the relievers often struggled to get noticed.  Hopefully this report will help give the relievers more credit for the hard work they did in trying to get the starters out of jams.  The report will go over who was eligible for the Reliever of the Year award, will provide detailed end-of-the-year statistics for each reliever, and will break down the statistics in a way that will support the final ranking of the relievers. 


Reliever Roster Changes and Injuries


The roster saw a total of eight relievers during the 2009 season.  Five of those relievers (Jose Rada, Jason Novak, Travis Lawler, Kyle Heim, and David Kington) played exclusively for Johnson City and always pitched in the reliever role within the tandem starting pitcher system. 


One of the eight relievers was promoted from Johnson City to Batavia near the end of the season (Aaron Terry).  Since most of Terry's IPs were with Johnson City, Terry was eligible for Johnson City Reliever of the Year honors.


One of the eight relievers was promoted from the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals to Johnson City near the end of the season (Keith Butler).  Most of Butler's IPs were with the GCL Cardinals and he was recognized as our GCL Reliever of the Year.


One of the eight relievers was removed from the tandem starting pitcher system near the middle of the season (John Durham).  Most of Durham's IPs were as a starter in the tandem starting pitcher system so he will be eligible for Johnson City Pitcher of the Year honors.


Pitchers Eligible for Johnson City Reliever of the Year (6):  Kyle Heim, David Kington, Travis Lawler, Jason Novak, Jose Rada, and Aaron Terry. 


Injuries:  Only one reliever lost playing time during the season.   


David Kington (2-1, 3.31 ERA, 8 SV), the Appy League Relief Pitcher of the Year, missed the last 12 games of the season due to an unspecified injury. 


Reliever Statistics


Listed in the table below are some of the key statistics for Johnson City relievers in 2009.  "Rank" is how the six relievers were ranked.  This ranking was based on statistics and first-hand observations during the games. (See the statistical acronym list at the end for definitions.)


Reliever Aaron Terry Jose Rada David Kington Travis Lawler Jason Novak Kyle Heim
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6
Age 22.75 yr 21.5 yr 21.8 yr 21.3 yr 21.9 yr 22 yr
W 6 5 2 2 0 0
L 0 0 1 1 1 1
ERA 2.08 1.76 3.31 4.05 6 7.71
G 21 23 19 17 19 16
GF 12 3 17 6 10 9
SV 6 1 8 0 1 0
BS 1 1 1 2 2 0
SV% 86% 50% 89% 0% 33% NA
HLD 1 3 0 3 2 1
IP 26 30.2 16.1 20 21 18.2
H 16 22 10 22 24 23
R 7 8 7 11 15 17
ER 6 6 6 9 14 16
HR 2 1 0 1 2 3
BB 9 8 7 10 7 11
IBB 0 1 0 0 0 0
SO 36 30 15 29 24 21
HBP 1 3 0 0 2 4
WP 3 2 1 3 5 3
BF 105 123 68 91 95 95
SB 3 6 1 1 1 0
CS 0 1 0 2 0 0
CS% 0% 14% 0% 67% 0% NA
WHIP 0.96 0.98 1.04 1.6 1.48 1.82
BAA 0.17 0.202 0.169 0.272 0.279 0.303
Inherited 15 22 3 23 14 21
Scored 5 4 0 14 5 10
IS% 33% 18% 0% 61% 36% 48%
GO/AO 3.56 1.5 1 1.08 0.89 1.19
H/9 5.5 6.5 5.5 9.9 10.3 11.1
HR/9 0.7 0.3 0 0.4 0.9 1.4
BB/9 3.1 2.3 3.9 4.5 3 5.3
SO/9 12.5 8.8 8.3 13 10.3 10.1
SO/BB 4 3.8 2.1 2.9 3.4 1.9


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 be good.  The six relievers combined for a 15-4 record with 16 saves over 132.2 IP (23.4% of the team's total IPs).  As a group, they averaged 7.9 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 10.5 SO/9, and 3.0 SO/BB.  They combined for a 1.27 WHIP, 3.87 ERA, a 70% save percentage, and to allow 39% of their inherited runners to score.  They caught 20% of the possible base stealers.  David Kington led the league in saves with a rather meager number of eight 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 (Terry, Rada, and Kington) and three relievers that were struggling (Lawler, Novak, and Heim).  Terry, Rada, and Kington saw most of their action in the games the Cardinals were leading while Lawler, Novak, and Heim seemed to see more action in the games the Cardinals were losing. 


The Rankings Explained


#1 Aaron Terry:  Terry, Rada, and Kington all served in different roles for the team so it was very difficult to rank the top three.  Terry seemed to have the best fastball and the best slider.  Terry seemed to perform better against free swingers.  From an "organizational preference" perspective, it was no contest.  Terry has the best sinking action on his pitches (3.56 GO/AO).  Terry led the relievers with 6 W, 0.96 WHIP, 5.5 H/9, and 4.0 SO/BB.  Terry's 12.5 SO/9 was the best amongst the top three relievers (by far).  Terry owned right-handed hitters all year long (.098 BAA and 4.60 GO/AO).  Terry received an end-of-season promotion to Batavia and struggled in limited action (2 G (2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 1 K, .500 BAA).


#2 Jose Rada: Rada was perhaps the steadiest and most consistent of the best performing relievers however, he was not given many save opportunities.  Rada was used almost exclusively in middle-inning, runners-on-base situations.  Rada was the workhorse of the relievers, leading the team with 23 G, 30.2 IP, and 123 BF.  For me, it was Rada's incredible performance with inherited runners that gave him an edge over Kington for second place.  Rada allowed only four of 22 inherited runners to score.  If you were a starter, you wanted Rada to get you out of a jam.  Rada also led the relievers with a 1.76 ERA and a 2.3 BB/9.  Rada's BAA with RISP was a miniscule .114.  His BAA with runners on was .131. 


#3 David Kington:  Kington led the league with 8 SV and that is what likely garnered him Reliever of the Year in the Appy League.  Kington had a very good year and made the most of his opportunities.  Kington was injured late in the year and missed the last 12 games.  Kington rarely came into a game with runners on base (3 inherited runners in 16.1 IP) so most of his saves were of the one-inning variety.  Kington had a very good curveball (command and control) and pitched very well when he started his own inning.  Kington may pitch well when entering a game with runners on base but we didn't find out this year. 

On the plus side, Kington led the relievers with a .169 BAA, 89% SV%, 5.5 H/9, and 0.0 HR/9.  In the "concerns" column, Kington had the lowest SO/9 rate (8.3) of all six relievers and the second lowest SO/BB ratio (2.1). 


#4 Travis Lawler:  Lawler, the youngest of the relievers, had a few glimpses of very good performance this year.  It was feast or famine for Lawler though.  He led the team with 13 SO/9 but was the team's worst at dealing with inherited runners (61% scored).  Lawler did the best of all relievers with base runners (67% CS) but blew both of his save opportunities.  Lawler had a very good 3.50 GO/AO against left-handed hitters.  It is often said that consistency is what is needed for a promotion.  Lawler has a lot of work to do in this area. 


#5 Jason Novak:  Novak really didn't distinguish himself in any particular way.  He had the least "sink" on his pitches (0.89 GO/AO) and blew two of his three save opportunities.  He led the relievers with 5 WP and really needs to work on both command and control of his off-speed pitches.  Novak's BAA with the bases empty was just .211 (.279 BAA overall) -- possibly pointing to a significant difference between his stretch and wind-up mechanics. 


#6 Kyle Heim:  Heim gets points for being the only left-handed reliever but it wasn't enough to move him up the list.  Heim was last amongst the relievers in virtually all significant statistical categories.  Even his lefty-righty splits were not good enough to mention. 


Reliever Fielding


As a team, Johnson City finished fifth in team fielding percentage (.960).  They committed 100 errors in 67 games.  The pitchers combined for 13 errors, however, the six relievers, despite pitching over 23% of the innings, didn't commit a single error.  The relievers were as equally as bad as the starters at catching base stealers (20%) and were well below the league average (32%). 


Reliever (Top Ten) League Leaders


Aaron Terry:  2nd in SV (6), 3rd in W (6), 3rd in G (21), 5th in GF (12).

Jose Rada:  1st in G (23), 3rd in HLD (3), 6th in W (5). 

David Kington:  1st in SV (8), 1st in GF (17), 8th in G (19). 

Travis Lawler:  3rd in HLD (3). 

Jason Novak:  10th in HLD (2).


Statistical Acronyms: 


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


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. 


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, 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 team-game.  That corresponds to roughly 53 IP.  With a piggy-back or tandem starting pitching system, the maximum number of IP is roughly 59 for a starter.  The maximum number of IPs for a Johnson City reliever was 30.2


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. 


R is runs allowed.  The fewer 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. 



Follow Shawn on Twitter E-mail Shawn at


© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories