Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bronson Arroyo Joins Not So Elite Company

Bronson Arroyo gave up four more home runs last night against the Brewers on Friday. Since he started the evening with 40 dingers allowed, he's now given up 44 homers this season. Wow. Just wow. With the four homers, Bronson Arroyo has joined some not so elite company.

In the year 2000, Jose Lima was pitching for the Houston Astros. That season, Lima gave up 48 homers in 33 starts and yielded a home run to nine innings pitched ratio of 2.20. Arroyo has made thirty starts and has given up 44 homers for a ratio of 2.18 in HR/9. Why is that significant? Because they are the only two pitchers in major league history who have ever made thirty or more starts and finished with a HR/9 over two. Ever.

If you bring that down to 25 starts or more instead of thirty, six pitchers have finished with a HR/9 over two. They are (in order of HR/9 rate):
  1. Jose Lima - 2.20
  2. Bronson Arroyo - 2.18
  3. Scott Bankhead (1987 - Mariners) - 2.11
  4. Jim Deshaies (1994 - Twins) - 2.07
  5. Rob Bell (2000 - Reds) - 2.05
  6. Jeff Fassaro (1999 for two teams) - 2.01
You've probably noticed that all of those have happened in the near history. As near as this writer can tell, Scott Elarton holds the record for the highest HR/9 rate with more than twenty starts in a season when that pitcher toiled in 2001 for two different teams. That season, Elarton made 24 starts and gave up a whopping 2.30 HR/9. Can you say, "Meat"?

But you also have to look at how the league was doing in those seasons with HR/9 as it's never been static. Take Lima for example. In the year 2000, the league HR/9 rate was 1.2. So he finished that season +1. This year's HR/9 rate is 0.9, so Arroyo is +1.28!

Arroyo has probably two more starts? He has an outside chance at even more history. Twenty-three pitchers in MLB history have given up more than 40 homers in a season. The record is the 50 that Burt Blyleven gave up in 1986. Of those twenty-three pitchers, Arroyo has thrown the least amount of innings (thus far but that could change). Six more homers allowed in two more starts would tie Blyleven's record. No shame in that right? Burt Blyleven is in the Hall of Fame. But Blyleven's ERA+ that season was 101. Arroyo's is sitting at 73.

And it gets worse. Fausto Carmona and Bronson Arroyo this season have become two of only 53 pitchers in major league history to record an ERA+ less than 75 with thirty or more starts. According to Fangraphs, Arroyo is the only starting pitcher who has enough innings to qualify for the Cy Young Award this season with a negative fWAR. He has the third highest ERA of all starting pitchers behind only John Lackey and Brian Duensing. He has the highest FIP in the majors at 5.65.

All in all, this has not been a fun season for Bronson Arroyo. He is certainly a symptom on a team that was heralded before the season to contend in 2011. But the Reds were never a factor. Arroyo is a gamer. He takes the ball and gives you everything he's got. But the guess here is that he hasn't been healthy and his plug should have been pulled long ago.

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