Willie’s Double Standard

Are pitchers graded on different scales, based on what’s expected of them?

In the SNY postgame after the Mets win over the Phillies, Adam Rubin asked Willie Randolph if judging a performance is specific to the pitcher, and why Pelfrey’s 100-pitch, 5-inning effort was being celebrated while Oliver Perez’s 6-inning, 91-pitch performance was termed “inefficient”. Willie’s explanation was that “it was a different feel”, and that Perez “struggled” during his game while Pelfrey “never struggled”.

Hmmm ….

Not sure I agree 100%. I think that a pitcher who doesn’t struggle at some point in a game, simply hasn’t been in the game long enough or has been lucky. Averaging 20 pitches per inning, as Pelfrey did, is far from efficient. I think he was lucky that he had an early six-run lead that took the air out of the Phillies’ offense. Had it been a closer game, the Phils might have been more focused and worked Pelfrey a bit harder. But that’s speculation.

Personally, I would have (silently) agreed with Rubin — that you grade Perez on a different scale than you do Pelfrey, because you expect Ollie to give you six good innings at minimum, while you have your fingers crossed that Big Pelf can make it past the fourth. At the same time, if I’m Willie Randolph, I can’t say that publicly, because lowered expectations can mess with a kid’s confidence — plus, every player must be handled individually. Pelfrey is a kid who needs positive reinforcement more than anything else, while Ollie is a guy who responds well to being pushed toward perfection. Willie is doing right by both pitchers — Perez needs a push, Pelfrey needs a pull.

There’s a lot more to this game than the numbers.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. fafhrd316 April 9, 2008 at 10:52 pm
    Ollie, when he’s on his game, can go 7 innings. That’s one of the reasons why it was so-so.

    And as for Pelfrey, he was victimized by Reyes’ error in the 2nd, which would have otherwise been a DP. That lead to the first run (which Pelfrey shouldn’t have been charged with), and a longer inning for him than he should have had. Also, Pelfrey had some tough Phillie ABs in the 4th inning that ate up his pitch count. But overall, Pelfrey threw strikes, didn’t walk much, and let the Phillies hit themselves out rather than walking them. The result was alot of groundballs to Delgado and Reyes today.

    It was also good to see Pelfrey recover from Reyes’ error without imploding (which, btw, is something that Ollie still suffers from). As a #5 starter who hasn’t had much success in the Majors, I’ll take Pelfrey’s 5 inning preformance. Ollie I exepct greater things from than 5 2/3rds innings. I’ll take it, but I know he can do better. We’ve seen Pelfrey do much worse.

  2. sincekindergarten April 10, 2008 at 4:45 am
    WHile it is true that we’ve seen Pelfrey do much worse, we’ve also seen Ollie do much worse. Yeah, we expect Ollie to go longer, but we’ll take what we can get. He’ll get ’em next start.
  3. isuzudude April 10, 2008 at 6:06 am
    Don’t forget, Ollie’s ERA through 2 starts and 11+ innings still stands at 0.00. So although he may have been ineffecient on Tuesday, he certainly was still successful. I’m also not going to criticize Perez for only going 5.2 innings, either, because that was more Willie’s call to go with a righty in Smith to face Feliz rather than Perez being out of gas. Ollie got wild to finish out the 6th, yes, but if it were my call I’d leave him in to work out of the jam he created. After all, Perez is supposed to be one of the guys relied upon to get those big outs in big spots. Why not leave him in there and let him finish the job?
  4. joe April 10, 2008 at 9:11 am
    While I sort of agreed with Willie’s decision to pull Perez early — mainly because it’s early in the season and he had plenty of fresh arms to help out in the ‘pen — I tend to agree that Ollie has to work out of these jams. He reminds me a lot of the old workhorses of the 70s and 80s, who might throw a ton of pitches but have the wherewithal to plow through the tough situations and finish ballgames. Given the opportunity, I think Ollie would easily complete ballgames, and be able to throw 140-160 pitches in the process — to me he has that tenacity to finish games.
  5. Micalpalyn April 10, 2008 at 10:05 am
    1. Last yr we’d be VERY happy with Ollie going 5IP/start with an ERA of 3.00

    2. Kudos to Pel. And extra credit to Brian.