With each passing day the Jonathan Papelbon trade appears less and less likely to come to fruition. (edit: Of course I wrote this last night and now the Papelbon trade appears more and more likely but whatever, this article still has merit) While it's not entirely dead yet, at this point it seems much more likely that they re-sign Francisco Rodriguez. Apparently K-Rod's agent, Scott Boras, has been trying to sell Brewers owner Mark Attanasio on the idea of yet another reunion. While I have significant moral reservations about signing Rodriguez, I thought I would take a look at what Brewers fans could be in store for from a performance perspective.
People like to talk about Francisco Rodriguez's 44 saves in 2014. One thing they don't talk about are the 14 home runs he allowed. That's the most by a reliever last year. Take a look at these numbers: 0.47, 0.50, 1.00, 1.35, 1.85. Those are K-Rod's HR/9 from 2010 to 2014. That's a clear trend and a disturbing one.
His HR/FB drastically increased in 2012, increasing from a 6.5% the year before to a 12.3%. That then increased to 15.2 % in 2013. It drastically increased again in 2014 to 23.3%.
The 14 home runs he allowed in 2014 is nearly double his previous high (if you ignore the 12 he gave up in 2003 which was very long ago and only his first full season in the majors) of 8 in 2012. So if you're looking for hope, it's there. Even if his HR/9 and HR/FB are trending in the wrong direction, it seems unlikely he would continue giving them up at such an outrageous rate.
If you're looking for more hope, you might find it in Francisco Rodriguez's walk rate. In 2009 his walk rate peaked at 12.9%. After that it only reached double digits once, in 2012. In fact, expect for 2012, his walk rate has decreased pretty steadily since. It reached it's lowest point in 2014 at 6.7%.
While Rodriguez's K% might not be as elite as it once was, it's remained strong every year. He's never posted a K% below league average. That mirrors his swinging strike rate. Once again, the only year he performed at a rate below average was in 2012 which is looking more and more like a statistical aberration.
Since 2010 K-Rod has posted better than average opponent batting averages every year. The only year he's had a WHIP higher than league average? Yep, 2012 again.
Even accounting for Rodriguez's HR/9 it seems likely he can put together another statistically solid season in 2015. So from that perspective it seems reasonable to add him to the Brewers bullpen. He's always been healthy too which would add some much needed stability. Still, considering his home run issues I'm going to be on the edge of my seat if he enters the game with less than a 3 run lead...
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs