This article is to recognize the top performance by a St. Louis Cardinals major league reliever during the 2009 campaign, all 164 games to date. That was delivered by closer Ryan Franklin.
Some relevant regular season stats for the Cardinals primary relievers follow. They include won-loss record; saves, save opportunities, save conversion percent; inherited runners, inherited runners scored, percent of inherited runners scored; appearances, first batters retired, percent of first batters retired; ERA and WHIP.
Primary relievers, St. Louis Cardinals, 2009 (ordered by ERA, leaders in bold)
Left-handed specialist Trever Miller made an extremely strong showing, leading the Cardinals relievers in WHIP and highest percentage of first batters retired. He tied for the second-lowest rate of inherited runners scoring and in number of wins.
Yet the leader of the pen is Franklin. At 36 years old, the right-hander had a career season during which he led the club in ERA at 1.92.
Though Franklin rarely came into games with runners on base, when he did, the lowest percentage of them crossed the plate of any Cardinals reliever. Of course, his 38 saves led the team. In fact, it was third-highest total in the National League.
Franklin's best and worst months occurred back to back to conclude the season. The first-time MLB All-Star in 2009 was named MLB's Delivery Man of the Month for August. During that period, the Oklahoma resident went 11-for-11 in save opportunities, did not allow a run and had seven outings in which he did not allow a hit.
September was very unkind to Franklin, though on September 26, he picked up his 38th save and was on the mound as the Cardinals clinched the division. Prior to that, he had blown three consecutive save opportunities after having converted 13 straight from August 7 through September 5.
Due to his late struggles, Franklin fell out of the lead in the National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year competition and finished second to Heath Bell of San Diego. Perhaps it was coincidental that on September 1, Franklin signed a contract extension through the 2011 season.
In his only 2009 post-season action to date, Franklin allowed two hits, two walks and a pair of unearned runs in 1/3 of an inning Thursday. He picked up a blown save and a loss in the Cardinals disappointing 3-2 loss to the Dodgers in the NLDS game two.
Still, the Cardinals will need Franklin if they are to come back from their deficit in the NLDS and they likely would not have made the post-season at all had the baseball gods not granted Franklin a career year.
Congratulations to Ryan Franklin, our Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Note: To follow our entire series of Players of the Year at each level of the St. Louis Cardinals system from bottom to top, check back here daily. To see the roster of winners and article schedule, click here.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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