Wild Prediction: Chris Perez Will Fail As A Closer In 2011

We all know that the closer position has a bit of instability surrounding it.  No one would’ve predicted Jonathan Broxton to lose his role prior to 2010, but he hit a bump in the road and that’s exactly what happened.  So, is predicting that someone is going to lose his role as a team’s closer really “wild”?

Depending on the closer I certainly think it is.  While we know they all could lose their job at any time, I don’t think we expect many of them to do so.  Remember the rules of our wild predictions are that they have a 20% chance of happening or less.

With that preface, let’s get to today’s Wild Prediction:

Chris Perez will save less than 17 games in 2011

The Indians thought enough of Perez to ship Kerry Wood to the Yankees in 2010 (once he was healthy), and he certainly didn’t disappoint.  In 63.0 innings he saved 23 games (blowing just four), while posting a 1.71 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.

Yes, those are impressive numbers.

Yes, we can expect him to improve upon his 8.71 K/9 (he posted a 12.02 K/9 in the minor leagues).

However, that’s where the positives slowly start to fade away.  While relief pitchers can generally sustain “luckier” metrics than starting pitchers, it would be fair to be concerned that Perez will regress in his .222 BABIP and 86.1% strand rate.

Couple more hits against him with an unimpressive 4.00 BB/9 and suddenly you can start talking about a lot of base runners.  The walks grow even more concerning when you realize that in the minor leagues, where he worked exclusively as a relief pitcher, he posted a BB/9 of 5.97.  It’s simply hard to imagine a repeat of his 1.08 WHIP.

An increased WHIP (along with a regression in his strand rate), should also correlate to an increased ERA.  How high is it going to go?  No one really knows, but a 3.00 mark should be considered a baseline.  Could he be extremely worse than that?  Of course he could.

The idea of a relief pitchers’ luck goes both ways.  While they have the ability to post luckier marks, a few unlucky innings will significantly skew their results.  The idea of him regressing from his 2010 numbers is almost a certainty.  The idea of him struggling so badly that he’s removed as the closer?  Crazier things certainly have happened.

Chance of Happening: 10%

I’m not about to say that I expect this to happen (I have him ranked as the 15th best closer in our recent rankings), but would it really shock anyone either?

What are your thoughts of this prediction?  Could Perez struggle badly enough that he loses his role?  What do you expect from him in 2011?

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Make sure to check out our previous Wild Predictions:

2 comments

  1. Doc says:

    I actually see him being one of the top closers this year. He has all of the tools. Yes, the knock on him has always been his high walk rate – mainly against lefties. Many think it’s because he’s always trying to pinpoint the backdoor slider against them, some think it’s the lack of “target” that a leftie gives for his slider. I think that is something that maturity and experience will take care of. He reminds me of Joe Nathan (who also had a high walk rate early on) – same fastball, same slider.

    Sure, his ERA could approach 3.00 but I don’t hear anyone complaining about Feliz’s 2.73 ERA & 40 saves from last year.

    I expect 2.80 ERA 1.18 WHIP 30 Saves. I’ll take that value from his ADP.

    Thanks,

    Doc

  2. Kyle Johansen says:

    You’d think he could bury that slider low and in to lefties.

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