Monday, July 2, 2007

Okajima Snubbed

I normally try to refrain from talking about the Red Sox stuff here since I know most of you could care less, but I just couldn’t hold back on this one. When I saw the All-Star roster I was pretty upset with the omission of Hideki Okajima. I mean this guy has been absolutely lights out! But I wanted to make sure that my bias wasn’t clouding my objectivity so I decided to look at the stats of the others relievers who were chosen to see if there is anyone who was less deserving than Mr. Okajima (even Jonathan Papelbon).

The four relievers who were selected were J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Francisco Rodriguez, and Papelbon. After methodically examining all of their stats, along with those of Okajima, it looks like a case could be made for the Red Sox lefty over Jenks or Rodriguez.

Okajima Jenks Rodriguez
IP 40 32 35
H 22 25 27
HR 1 1 2
R 4 10 9
BB 10 10 14
SO 36 29 49
ERA 0.9 2.76 2.27
WHIP 0.8 1.071 1.171429

K/9 8.1 7.99 12.36
BB/9 2.25 2.76 3.53
AVG 0.163 0.213 0.187

Okajima has an advantage over the other two in every category except strikeouts. So why did he get left off the list? Obviously sometimes get left off in favor of players who are the only representative for their team. That leaves out Jenks since he is the lone selection from the lowly White Sox whose hitters couldn’t hit themselves out of a wet paper bag and their pitchers have been anywhere from mediocre to dismal.

So we’re left with Rodriguez, since the Angels are also represented by starter John Lackey. Why Rodriguez over Okajima? Most people would probably say because he has more saves. But why should that matter? Okajima’s only fault then, it would seem, is that he is one of two relief aces on his team. He just happens to pitch one inning before Papelbon on most nights. Imagine this situation. The starter leaves the game after the seventh inning and the score is 2-1. Due up for the Yankees are the 3-4-5 spots in the eighth. Who has a tougher job, Okajima, or Papelbon who comes on in the ninth to pitch to the bottom of the order?

Okajima has been dominant over the first half of the season. Still, he’s been overshadowed all year by Dice-K, Papelbon and everyone else. I know some of you will say, what are you complaining about, the Red Sox already have five All-Stars. I just think this guy deserves a little recognition for his domination and contributions to the best team in baseball. (Sorry had to get that in).

Maybe some more thoughts about the All-Star game later.


Buzzsaw said...

As you admit, Jenks shouldn't be part of this question .. as for K-Rod, you make a convincing case for Okajima but you can't leave out a guy like Rodriguez who's on the best team in the league, is leading the AL is saves, and has a proven track record. Relievers are tough to judge, they go on streaks where they're unhittable, then come back to earth .. see Wickman last year compared to this year. I think if Okajima sustains this throughout the rest of the year and through the first half next year .. he'll be there. For this all-start game, I think you have to (and Leyland has)take into account the fact that the hitters don't know him yet and he's still benefiting from the fact that hitters aren't used to him.
If his success continues, when his newness wears off, then he'll be there.

BigLots said...

You're right about Jenks being a questionable all-star but we needed someone. In my opinion, Buehrle or Garland should have both made it over Jenks. By the way Log, could you talk to Papelbon for me? He still owes me $1,300 dollars. Thanks.

Medicine said...

I mean this guy has been absolutely lights out!