Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …
Renyel Pinto had a tough game in the Marlins win against the putrid New York Mets on Wednesday. He was predictably getting killed on the morning talk shows. The best line I heard came on the ESPN Deportes station [1450 AM] – Desayuno Deportivo – a caller said that he wanted he wanted Pinto to go far in MLB, … far away. Knowing that fans, like popular emails which are constantly forwarded, are almost never accurate, I wanted to get into the numbers.
There were 95 relief pitchers in the National League which logged more than 40 innings. Here is where Pinto ranked in various categories against those other pitchers:
- Games pitched: 73 – 16th place
- Strikeouts per 9 innings: 8.51 – tied for 30th place [with Tim Byrdak]
- ERA: 3.23 – tied for 39th place [with Tim Byrdak]
- Innings pitched: 61.1 – tied for 39th place [with Tim Byrdak]
- HR’s allowed: 4 – Tied for 39th with numerous others [but not Tim Byrdak]
- Pitches Per Plate Appearance: 4.05 – 73rd place [tied with Tim Byrdak]
- Walks & Hits per innings pitched [WHIP]: 1.61 – 87th place
Of those 95 National League relievers who pitched more than 40 innings, only 19 were lefties. Here is where Pinto ranked in various categories against those lefty pitchers:
- Games pitched: 73 – 8th place
- Strikeouts per 9 innings: 8.51 – tied for 9th place [with Tim Byrdak]
- ERA: 3.23 – tied for 11th place [with Tim Byrdak]
- Innings pitched: 61.1 – tied for 5th place [with Tim Byrdak]
- HR’s allowed: 4 – Tied for 6th with numerous others [but not Tim Byrdak – who inexplicably gave up 10]
- Pitches Per Plate Appearance: 4.05 – 11th place [tied with Tim Byrdak]
- Walks & Hits per innings pitched [WHIP]: 1.61 – 17th place
As usual, getting into the numbers led to something even more interesting, Pinto and fellow lefty Tim Byrdak practically had the exact same season in 2008.
Pinto’s WHIP is the one critical area where Pinto is as bad as local fans think he is [especially after a bad outing]. However, if Pinto’s control were to improve — he issued the most walks of any lefty NL reliever — he likely moves up from being an average reliever pitcher to one of the better ones. Better to have a pitcher who needs to improve his control rather than his ‘stuff.’
One other additional factor in Pinto’s favor. His age, he is 27. The average age for the lefty relievers was 30.5. Only five of the 19 lefty relievers were younger than Pinto. For two of those, D Herrera [CIN] & C Zavada [ARI], 2008 represented their first year as a full-time reliever. Another one, J O’Flaherty [ATL] missed most of 2008 with an injury. For W Wright [HOU], 2009 represented his 2nd year as a full-time reliever, as compared to 3 years for Pinto and S Burnett [PIT], the other younger lefty reliever.
Overall Renyel Pinto was an average reliever in 2008. Being a lefty, he has more value that an average right-handed relief pitcher and has showed good durability — between 58 and 64 innings pitched for the past 3 years. In addition, the fact that lefty relievers are typically older — indicating that pitchers need a lot of experience to handle that role properly — Pinto’s relative youth gives him even more of a comparative advantage.
Bottom line, Renyel Pinto is a valuable left-handed relief pitcher with excellent prospects for improvement given his age. So go ahead and boo, flog and request that he be traded every time he goes to a 3-1 count, but understand that you do so out of frustration rather than any appreciation about how pitchers develop to succeed in that role.