Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oli as the Lefty Specialist? I Don't Think So!

By: Clayton Collier
   Mets pitcher, and I use that term lightly, Oliver Perez has been cited as a possible option to be the successor to former-Met southpaw Pedro Feliciano as the lefty specialist. Although the stat that has been observed to determine this possibility was his successful batting average against (BAA) when facing left handed batters, this only tells one part of the story. In order to take Oli into consideration for that role, one must look at his Achilles heel, walks.

   Oli has been infamous for walking one batter after another and inconsistency. These are two attributes that do not make for a reliever to be relied upon in a tight situation. Oli's BAA when facing left-handed batters in 2010 was a respectable .214. But if you look at the On Base Percentage (OBP) for left-handed batters in 2010, it was a monstrous .411 OBP. This is because despite his ability to fool left-handed batters, he still walks batters left and right. If it wasn't for all the walks, left handed batters would have only had roughly a .311 OBP. That stat isn't dominant, but it would give Oli a much better chance to contend for the vacant role.

   Also, Oli has some questionable numbers when it comes to the first batter he faces. In his career, the first batter he faces has a .298 batting average, a .383 OBP and a .519 slugging percentage against him. Even worse, in 2010, first batters batted .467, had a .529 OBP and an even 1.000 slugging percentage. This blows a major hole in the theory that Oli could be salvaged as a lefty specialist. A lefty Specialist is supposed to come in for 1 or 2 outs and face the tough lefties like Ryan Howard or Brian McCann. If these guys are teeing off on Oli at clutch, late moments in games, he cannot be successful in that position.

  The 29-year old lefty is in the final year of his exorbitant 3-year $36 million contract. Since signing that three year deal with the Mets Oli has fallen apart, posting a 6.81 ERA and an unsightly 3-9 record. In fact, Oli hasn't even recorded a win since August of 2009. Oli in the winter leagues has not enjoyed much success, posting a 3-3 record and a 5.18 ERA. The walk totals have not ceased either, he has walked 23 batters in 33 innings.

  Unless Oli can regain a morsel of his talent that landed him his big 3-year $36 million deal, It appears the Mets will be carrying another 24-man Roster into 2011.

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