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Insider: Rays Acquire Reliever Burke Badenhop

Posted By Tommy Rancel On December 12, 2011 @ 8:08 PM In 1040 Sports,Insider Main,main feature,MLB | 2 Comments

Taking another step to sure up the 2012 bullpen, the Tampa Bay Rays have acquired right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop [1] from the Miami Marlins in exchange for minor league catcher Jake Jefferies [2]. Jefferies, 24, split the 2011 season between Charlotte (A) and Montgomery (AA) and combined to bat .238 (53-for-223) with two home runs and 32 RBI. He informed [3] members of the Charlotte Stone Crabs’ front office that he intended to retire after the 2011 season, but apparently has not made that official.

For the Rays, Badenhop should be a durable, solid piece for Joe Maddon to use out of the bullpen. He comes relatively cheap – in both trade cost and salary – and has years of team control remaining. As an arbitration-eligible player, he should make right around the $1 million mark in 2012 - or what the team paid Andy Sonnanstine [4] in 2011. The 28-year-old has pitched in parts of the last four major-league seasons, making at least 60 appearances in each of the last three. A former starting pitcher, more than 50% of his relief appearances have spanned multiple innings.

In addition to controlability and durability, Badenhop’s most marketable asset is the ability to get ground balls. He owns a career groundball rate of more than 55% and set a career-high with a 58.5% rate last season. Because of his ability to keep the ball low to the earth, he allows less extra-base hits and home runs than the average pitcher.

Badenhop does not rack up strikeouts with his high-80’s sinker; however, his secondary offerings – slider and off-speed pitch – have the ability to generate a decent amount of whiffs. His career 6.82 strikeout-per-nine innings rate is nothing to get brag about, but it is comparable to other relief pitchers with similar groundball rates. His a career 3.23 walks-per-nine inning rate is also mediore. On the other hand, if you remove intentional walks from the equation it drops down to a much more palatable 2.73.

The biggest flaw in Badenhop’s game is a noticeable platoon split. Not uncommon for relief pitchers with average stuff, he struggles against batters of the opposite hand. While holding right-handed batters to a slash line of .265/.304/.364, he allows a line of .262/.362/.397 to the left side. You may have noticed that both types of batters have similar batting averages against him, but lefties reach base at a much higher rate. Although his he shows decent control overall, he can lose the ability to throw strikes against left-handers. When they do put the ball in play against him, it is usually with more authority than righties.

A 28year-old with a career 4.34 is unlikely to be a game changer. On the other hand, a groundball machine who is effective against right-handed batters could be a cost-effect weapon for the budget conscious Rays, especially considering Joe Maddon’s usage of platoon specialists and the team’s above-average defense. With a manageable salary, additional team control, groundball ability, and average stuff, it is a little puzzling as to why the Marlins are willing to let go of Badenhop for a minor-league catcher who may or may not play in 2012. That said, we hope their loss is Tampa Bay’s gain.


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URLs in this post:

[1] Burke Badenhop: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9736&position=P

[2] Jake Jefferies: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa454447&position=C/DH

[3] informed: http://twitter.com/#!/PatMacBaseball/status/146374364063997952

[4] Andy Sonnanstine: http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7667&position=P

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