Wednesday, February 8, 2023

All-Time One-Year Wonder Update for 2022: Lefty Reliever

I was not able to pull his base card in my blaster of Update, but I did buy this shiny green card of Matt Strahm, so it's time to talk about him.

When I did my post on the All-Time One-Year Wonder for left-handed relievers, my pick for the best at the time was Billy Wagner.  Wagner was acquired late in the 2009 season, but was a dominant force in just 15 games.  While I oftentimes preferred a player who spent more time in Boston for my top selections, I simply could not ignore his 1.98 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched.  Plus, the main competition came from Chris Howard, who did not have much of a Major League career outside of the one year with the Red Sox, and then mostly ordinary partial seasons from Greg Swindell, J.C. Romero and Matt Thornton.  Most of the players did not spend even a full season with the Red Sox.  

Which brings us to Matt Strahm.  Strahm did spend the entire 2022 season with the Red Sox, something that was lacking from the reasonable competition in my post.  Strahm had generally pitched well during his career, but missed significant time with injury in 2021, pitching in just six games.  He was therefore an inexpensive addition to the team in 2022.

Strahm made it into 50 games during the 2022 season and had flashes of brilliance.  He finished with a record of 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA.  In 44.2 innings pitched, he struck out 52 batters while walking 17.  For a time, it looked like he would take over the closer role.  He ended up saving four games (fifth on the team) and finished ten.  He pitched well enough that the Phillies snatched him up on a two-year deal after the season.  Plus, he had great hair.

So where does Strahm fit in compared to Billy Wagner?  Well, let's start with the obvious.  Wagner could get into the Hall of Fame next year after his big jump in the voting.  Strahm is not headed that direction.  But, this is about what each pitcher did for Boston, not in their careers.  Strahm was certainly not as dominant as Wagner, but he did strike out 10.5 batters per nine innings.  Wagner though was 14.5.  Strahm's ERA was almost two runs higher than Wagner as well.  And their WAR was equal at 0.3, which I think says more about Wagner than Strahm.  

Strahm was certainly not the dominant force that Wagner was.  Where he has the advantage though is that he played the entire season with Boston and was pretty good.  His 50 games were significantly more than any of the pitchers I discussed in that post.  Only Mark Guthrie came close with 43 games.  So while he was not as dominant, he appeared in a lot more games and was still a reasonably impressive pitcher.  There was a similar argument in the right-handed relievers post in which Larry Andersen's extreme dominance was not enough to beat out Takashi Saito's very good numbers over an entire season.  Saito though, was much better than Strahm.  Just looking at WAR, Saito was 1.6 versus Strahm's 0.3.  So it is not quite as equivalent of a situation (although Andersen costing the Red Sox Jeff Bagwell took points off from him as well).  

It's close, but I think I am going to stick with Wagner's dominance and status as a likely future Hall of Famer over Strahm's consistency over a full season.  It may seem odd, but it is my choice.  

1 comment:

  1. Strahm gets bonus points for being a fellow card collector who even has his own YouTube channel where he opens packs at different stadiums.