Monday, March 3, 2008

Will the Real Jimmy Gobble Please Stand Up?

By most accounts Jimmy Gobble's spot in the bullpen is secure and he will break camp in the LOOGY role he thrived at last season. But the question of the day is should he? He had a very Jesse Orosco-like season last year when he appeared in 74 games but pitched just 53.2 innings. He pitched a third of an inning or less in 26 of his appearances. If a pitcher can succeed in that role then he can pitch for a long time. But here's where I tend to disagree with people, I don't think Gobble really succeeded in the role. So I did a comparison between Gobble and Orosco's 1998 season just to see how Gobble stacked up against one of the premier LOOGY's of all time. I chose '98 because his surface stats were similar to Gobble's '07 season.

Gobble 53.2 IP 3.02 era
Orosco 56.1 IP 3.18 era

Gobble .241/.325/.398/.724

Gobble 127 PA's 40 K's 31%
Orosco 93 PA's 25 K's 27%
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No here's where it gets interesting and where there is major separation between the two, Gobble's
BAbip was .348 and Orosco's was just .263. And if you think Orosco's was a fluke consider that his career BAbip was .266 so 1998 was right in line with the rest of his career. In 1997 he had an amazing .130 BAbip when LHB's hit just .101 against him. I know it's probably unfair to compare Gobble to somebody who just dominated LHB's but isn't that where Gobble's value is? And isn't that why he is guaranteed a roster spot?

There also has been talk of sending Joel Peralta to Omaha just because he has an option left. This seems foolish for two reasons:
1. Peralta was pretty good last year, 87.1 IP 3.80 era.
2. Do we really need (or want) three LHP's (4 if de la Rosa* isnt in the rotation) in the bullpen?

*Today Bale pitched 3 innings of no hit ball and DLR gave up 5 runs in 1.1 innings, maybe Bale gets the 5th spot although I'm still pulling for Maroth.

Also consider that LHB's hit just .248 against Peralta and his BAbip was .270. What does that mean? I'm glad you asked, it means Peralta was tougher against LHB's than our resident LOOGY Jimmy Gobble. So let's see how Gobble stacks up against up against our other relievers to see if we even need a LOOGY.

Gobble---- .241/.348
Peralta---- .248/.270
Soria ----- .167/.216 (Damn!)
Mahay---- .189/.231
Bale------- .281/.370 (Ouch!)
DLR------- .234/.276
Hochevar--.273/.286 (26 PA's)

I gotta tell you that I see nothing special about Gobble (or Bale for that matter). Now obviously if DLR or Bale get the 5th rotation spot then this was an exercise in futility because Gobble and Peralta will make the team. But there is still the matter of Nunez and Hochevar. If they are bound and determined to start Hochevar in the pen then I would rather they keep Nunez over Gobble. And yes I do realize I am in the minority with this line of thinking but I can't help but thinking that last year was a fluke for Gobble.
Look at his era's the last three years:

2007 - 3.02
2006 - 4.68*
2005 - 6.19*
*era as a reliever

Well there is definite improvement but I believe Gobble is due to regress this season and I really don't understand why his roster spot is a given.
When you have Mahay and Peralta who can face LHB's and RHB's why give valuable space to one-out wonder? It's just something to think about.


  1. Good commentary. Been reading your blog for a little while now and its great to have another Royals fan out there in the blogsphere.

    I'm not huge on Gobble as well. I really like the comparison of LHB/RHB and BA/BABIP. Probably not totally conclusive, but still extremely interesting.

  2. Thanks for the kind words and I agree about it not being conclusive but I think if you have a guy whose only job is to get LHB's out then you probably want him to be a little more dominant, IMO anyway.

  3. I don't think you are being fair, his strikeoute rate improved dramatically and his babip really doesnt matter in fact I hate that stat. .241 is the only stat that matters and it is damn impressive.

  4. Scott - you do make a good point regarding his K9 and it is probably something I should have mentioned.
    2007 - 8.38
    2006 - 9.97 (as reliever)
    2005 - 6.23 (as reliever)

    For his career:
    Starter - 4.34
    Reliever - 7.81

    The high K9 is unexpected but it really doesnt change my opinion, mostly because of the high BAbip (.348).