Rafael Soriano is no Kyle Farnsworth
This post is in response to the following, via Sam Borden (LoHud):
Thumbs down to anyone who wants the Yankees to go after a ‘big-name’ reliever like Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano…. I’d rather see more of Dave Robertson in 2010 than end up with another Kyle Farnsworth.
The perspective is understandable, however, note the following numbers:
In the first row, we have one of the greatest relievers of all time, Kyle Farnsworth, prior to his “memorable” stint with the Yankees. I’ve actually excluded his 1999 season from the stats, simply because of his undefined role at the time (he began as a starter and transitioned to a full-time reliever the following year, in April 2000). After Farnsworth, we then have the current career statistics for Type-A free agent reliever, Rafael Soriano. It’s important to note that Soriano’s numbers are based primarily on his time with the Mariners, in the American League, whereas Farnsworth’s statistics, outside of 42 2/3 innings with the Tigers in 2005, were all produced in the National League (Cubs, Braves).
Based on the numbers featured in the table above, it’s clear that Rafael Soriano is no Kyle Farnsworth, as he has been a much more effective pitcher throughout his career. The difference in productivity between the two becomes even more apparent when you examine each pitcher’s annual FIP. For instance, in 2000 and 2002, Farnsworth’s FIP was 5.68 and 5.11. He also posted a 4.23 FIP in 2004 (in the NL, mind you). Thus, his 3.93 FIP prior to joining the Yankees isn’t really a solid representation of his work (there were some extreme FIP variations). Conversely, after Soriano’s rookie year in 2002, a year in which he posted a 4.82 FIP, the former Brave never posted an FIP in the 4+ range outside of 2007 (4.17 FIP). Therefore, when compared to Farnsworth’s career FIP, Soriano’s 3.31 is a consistent creation. It’s not the byproduct of both poor seasons and excellent seasons (it’s continued excellence, rather).
When the Yankees signed Kyle Farnsworth, he was a performative gamble in that the consistency wasn’t there. With Soriano, the only significant issue is his health. He’ll cost a draft pick if signed, which, of course, stings. However, Soriano’s arm appears worth it, especially if Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain aren’t in the bullpen next season.
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