Koji Uehara: one of the 20 best relief seasons ever?

benhogan

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What about signing Koji to a 3 year deal, say 3 for $15MM?
 
I know he just had a historically great season, and signing him now would be a classic 'buy high' situation, but he has just put together 4 straight outstanding seasons from the pen. He has a similar physique to Mariano and I could see Koji doing this till he is 41.  Koji's 4 collective seasons as a reliever of WAR are 8.4 (2010 representing his worst season - 1.2 WAR)
 
I'd like to see how he fares in the post season first, but this should be on Ben's 'to-do list' this off-season
 

santadevil

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benhogan said:
What about signing Koji to a 4 yr deal, say 4 for $20MM?
 
 I know he just had a historically great season, and signing him now would be a classic 'buy high' situation, but he has just put together 4 straight outstanding seasons from the pen. He has a similar physique to Mariano and I could see Koji doing this till he was 42.  Koji's 4 collective seasons as a reliever of WAR are 8.4 (2010 representing his worst season - 1.2 WAR)
 
I'd like to see how he fares in the post season first, but this should be on Ben's 'to-do list' this off-season
 
4 years covering his age 39-42 seasons?
 
The age makes me wary, plus the huge variations that can happen in relief pitchers from year to year, I don't think I'd make that deal.
Maybe a 2 year extension offer at $6M per, but not 4 years.
However, I'm guessing that the front office will have him pitch next year as well, under contract and see how that goes as well.
 

Puffy

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benhogan said:
What about signing Koji to a 4 yr deal, say 4 for $20MM?
 
 I know he just had a historically great season, and signing him now would be a classic 'buy high' situation, but he has just put together 4 straight outstanding seasons from the pen. He has a similar physique to Mariano and I could see Koji doing this till he was 42.  Koji's 4 collective seasons as a reliever of WAR are 8.4 (2010 representing his worst season - 1.2 WAR)
 
I'd like to see how he fares in the post season first, but this should be on Ben's 'to-do list' this off-season
 
Wouldn't it seem to be in everyone's best interest to see what he does for the Sox next year?
 

benhogan

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Puffy said:
 
Wouldn't it seem to be in everyone's best interest to see what he does for the Sox next year?
Prior to seeing the last 2 posts I edited down to 3 years, but you are most likely correct, see how next year plays out.  
 

joe dokes

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Puffy said:
 
Wouldn't it seem to be in everyone's best interest to see what he does for the Sox next year?
 
Epecially after he starts regularly coming into playoff games in the 8th inning.
 
M

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Well I'll be the one to say it - I'd be happy to give someone like him 4 years.  No signs of wear and tear, he hasn't been in the league that long, no injury history in NPB, and nothing but consistent amazing K and BB rates out of the guy.  This year is an aberration but even an average year from Koji is surely worth 4/$24 or so.  Or 3/$21, frankly.  Elite relief help is often a mirage, have to take the few certainties you can get in that business and run like hell.
 

williams_482

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MentalDisabldLst said:
Well I'll be the one to say it - I'd be happy to give someone like him 4 years.  No signs of wear and tear, he hasn't been in the league that long, no injury history in NPB, and nothing but consistent amazing K and BB rates out of the guy.  This year is an aberration but even an average year from Koji is surely worth 4/$24 or so.  Or 3/$21, frankly.  Elite relief help is often a mirage, have to take the few certainties you can get in that business and run like hell.
Now, I don't want to say what Koji has done is a mirage, but beyond Mariano Rivera there are no certainties among relief pitchers. Fangraphs tends to harp on this subject, and what it comes down to is that just about everyone who comes out of the bullpen for a living is a risk you should avoid giving lots of money too, especially if you don't have to (and the Red Sox have Koji for another year at a very reasonable $5M already). 
 

Sampo Gida

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MentalDisabldLst said:
Well I'll be the one to say it - I'd be happy to give someone like him 4 years.  No signs of wear and tear, he hasn't been in the league that long, no injury history in NPB, and nothing but consistent amazing K and BB rates out of the guy.  This year is an aberration but even an average year from Koji is surely worth 4/$24 or so.  Or 3/$21, frankly.  Elite relief help is often a mirage, have to take the few certainties you can get in that business and run like hell.
 
Well, he will be 39 next year.  Also, Rodney and Johnson had dominant seasons in 2012 and fell off quite a bit in 2013, volatility is not uncommon among relievers.  Koji has been pretty consistent though.  Lets see how Koji does after a MLB career high workload which may include quite a few IP in the post season if all goes according to plan .
 

chrisfont9

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williams_482 said:
Now, I don't want to say what Koji has done is a mirage, but beyond Mariano Rivera there are no certainties among relief pitchers. Fangraphs tends to harp on this subject, and what it comes down to is that just about everyone who comes out of the bullpen for a living is a risk you should avoid giving lots of money too, especially if you don't have to (and the Red Sox have Koji for another year at a very reasonable $5M already). 
His age is a risk. I wouldn't like to see the Sox bid against themselves and land on 4x$5m, but if the market drove them there, that's probably something they could swallow if Koji starts winding down after year 2. Assuming they don't re-sign Ells, they'll have some significant flexibility in the next 3-4 years as some of the kids take over. Obviously $5m is a chunk, but to take a chance on a couple more seasons like this one, it's probably not a bad risk.
 

Reverend

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Christ.

Anything might be a strike. So you have to swing at everything. So you're kinda screwed...
 

Snodgrass'Muff

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I know that's a joke but it's worth pointing out that he didn't throw a single pitch that wasn't either in the strike zone or swung at last night. It was one of the most dominant innings of relief I've seen in the playoffs in quite a while.
 

CoRP

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Has a playoff reliever ever gotten the 3 straight Ks on nine pitches in a save situation because he was only one pitch away from doing it last night and Myers just barely fouled off his 9th pitch.
 

BrunanskysSlide

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CoRP said:
Has a playoff reliever ever gotten the 3 straight Ks on nine pitches in a save situation because he was only one pitch away from doing it last night and Myers just barely fouled off his 9th pitch.
Accoridng to BRef, I don't believe anyone has:

[COLOR= rgb(0, 0, 0)]In the Postseason, From 1903 to 2013, Save Opportunity, (requiring Pitches=9), sorted by greatest SO[/COLOR]















































Rk

Player

Date

Series

Gm#

Tm

Opp

IP

H

BB

SO

Pit

ERA





1

Rob Dibble

1990-10-09

NLCS

4

CIN

PIT

1.0

0

0

2

9

0.00



2

Ken Dayley

1985-10-16

NLCS

6

STL

LAD

1.0

0

0

2

9

0.00



3

Mike Marshall

1974-10-13

WS

2

LAD

OAK

1.0

1

0

2

9

0.00



4

Clay Carroll

1970-10-03

NLCS

1

CIN

PIT

1.0

0

0

2

9

0.00































5

Jason Motte

2011-10-02

NLDS

2

STL

PHI

1.1

0

0

1

9

0.00



6

Ryan Madson

2008-10-27

WS

5

PHI

TBR

0.2

2

0

1

9

13.50



7

Jason Isringhausen

2002-10-03

NLDS

2

STL

ARI

1.0

0

0

1

9

0.00



8

Dennis Eckersley

1996-10-03

NLDS

2

STL

SDP

1.0

0

0

1

9

0.00































9

Mariano Rivera

1997-10-05

ALDS

4

NYY

CLE

0.2

1

0

0

9

13.50



10

Mark Wohlers

1995-10-28

WS

6

ATL

CLE

1.0

0

0

0

9

0.00



11

Duane Ward

1993-10-06

ALCS

2

TOR

CHW

1.0

1

0

0

9

0.00



12

Rick Aguilera

1991-10-11

ALCS

3

MIN

TOR

1.0

0

0

0

9

0.00



13

Alejandro Pena

1988-10-05

NLCS

2

LAD

NYM

0.2

0

1

0

9

0.00



14

Bob Stanley

1986-10-25

WS

6

BOS

NYM

0.0

0

0

0

9

undef



15

Willie Hernandez

1984-10-05

ALCS

3

DET

KCR

1.0

1

0

0

9

0.00



16

Jim Kaat

1982-10-16

WS

4

STL

MIL

0.0

1

1

0

9

inf



17

Pete Ladd

1982-10-10

ALCS

5

MIL

CAL

1.0

0

0

0

9

0.00



18

Dan Quisenberry

1980-10-09

ALCS

2

KCR

NYY

1.0

1

0

0

9

0.00



19

Harvey Haddix

1960-10-13

WS

7

PIT

NYY

1.0

1

0

0

9

0.00





Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/6/2013.
 

BrunanskysSlide

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I looked again, and in fact, not one single pitcher has struck out three in one inning with 9 pitches at any time in the post-season.  These are the only pitchers who have 2 K's with 9 pitches in one inning: Some are listed above as well: 
 
Brad Lidge
Terry Matthews
Rob Dibble
Ken Dayley
Mike Marhsall
Clay Carroll
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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How about requiring IP = 1.0, SO >= 3, sorted by fewest pitches?
 

phrenile

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BrunanskysSlide said:
I looked again, and in fact, not one single pitcher has struck out three in one inning with 9 pitches at any time in the post-season.  These are the only pitchers who have 2 K's with 9 pitches in one inning: Some are listed above as well: 
 
Brad Lidge
Terry Matthews
Rob Dibble
Ken Dayley
Mike Marhsall
Clay Carroll
Danny Jackson did it once in the 1985 World Series:
[tablegrid October 24, 1985 World Series Game 5, Royals at Cardinals, Bottom of the 7th, Cardinals Batting, Behind 1-4, Royals' Danny Jackson facing 7-8-9]Inn Score Out RoB Pit(cnt) R/O @Bat Batter Pitcher wWPA wWE b7 1-4 0 --- 3,(0-2) O STL T. Pendleton D. Jackson 2% 92% Strikeout Swinging b7 1-4 1 --- 3,(0-2) O STL T. Nieto D. Jackson 2% 93% Strikeout Looking Brian Harper pinch hits for Todd Worrell (P) batting 9th b7 1-4 2 --- 3,(0-2) O STL B. Harper D. Jackson 1% 94% Strikeout Swinging [/tablegrid]

He did it in the 7th inning of a complete game, so it wasn't in relief.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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So Clay did it last year.  Last HoF pitcher to do it was Sutter in 1977.  Of the 32 pitchers to do it since then, I think only Randy Johnson, Pedro (in 2002), and Felix Hernandez are going to the HoF, unless Clay proves to be more durable than I fear.
 

ishmael

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Lose Remerswaal said:
So Clay did it last year.  Last HoF pitcher to do it was Sutter in 1977.  Of the 32 pitchers to do it since then, I think only Randy Johnson, Pedro (in 2002), and Felix Hernandez are going to the HoF, unless Clay proves to be more durable than I fear.
Interesting to note that Pedro's Immaculate Inning came against three guys (Ichiro, McLemore, Sierra) with over 7,700 professional hits* between them.
 
*6,496 if you don't count Ichiro's Japanese League stats
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I misseed the game last night (oh what a bummer...) but I'm curious about Lobatan's HR shot off Koji.  Replays looks like it was a shitty hitter not even guessing right, but just getting ridiculously lucky, no?  The pitch seemed pretty damned good (not great) to me.  I'm assuming he's still available to close the series out tonight.
 

KillerBs

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Koji is definitely available to close out the series tonight. He threw 5 pitches last night. 3.2 innings and 42 pitches in the last 2 weeks. Should be good for 2 ips tonight if they need him. 
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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Trotsky said:
I misseed the game last night (oh what a bummer...) but I'm curious about Lobatan's HR shot off Koji.  Replays looks like it was a shitty hitter not even guessing right, but just getting ridiculously lucky, no?  The pitch seemed pretty damned good (not great) to me.  I'm assuming he's still available to close the series out tonight.
 
It was a pretty good pitch. It was over the plate but low and had good diving action on it. Koji had started him off with a splitter that Lobaton missed, then he got another, guessed right and put a good swing on it. No fun for us, but shit happens. The other guys are on scholarship too.
 

TeddysBonefish

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He attacks the strike zone and gives up the occasional homer. He wasn't going to stay perfect forever. I'm glad it happened now rather than in an elimination game.
 

WayBackVazquez

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It was not a great pitch, but it wasn't terrible. It was at least low, but 82 mph splitters that don't actually have much movement on them are sometimes going to get hit hard.
 

Sprowl

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Six fastballs, ten splitters, four outs, one save. Avila took seven pitches to strike out, only one of them a fastball. The pitches were too close to the zone to leave, too far away to hit: Uehara was living on, below or beyond the outside corner, and try as they might, the Tigers could not make him throw strikes.
 
 

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glasspusher

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Sprowl said:
Six fastballs, ten splitters, four outs, one save. Avila took seven pitches to strike out, only one of them a fastball. The pitches were too close to the zone to leave, too far away to hit: Uehara was living on, below or beyond the outside corner, and try as they might, the Tigers could not make him throw strikes.
 
 
VMart seemed to do the best against him. One foul, then reaching for a low and away pitch for a hit. Avila clearly didn't want to swing against him or Breslow, the latter walking him on five pitches without him swinging the bat. Ue got hit to go fishing for strike three, though.
 

Al Zarilla

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Red(s)HawksFan said:
 
Bill Russell supposedly threw up from nerves before nearly every big game he played.  Didn't slow him down much.  I wouldn't make anything of it at all.  I admire Koji's candor about it, actually.
Before one big game, Auerbach asked him if he had thrown up. Russell said no, so Red said "go throw up". 
 

ivanvamp

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Koji's postseason game log so far this year:
 
ALDS G2 - 1.0 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 k (S)
ALDS G3 - 0.2 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 0 k (L)
ALDS G4 - 1.1 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 k (S)
ALCS G1 - 1.0 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 k
ALCS G2 - 1.0 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 1 k (W)
ALCS G3 - 1.1 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 k (S)
ALCS G5 - 1.2 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 er, 0 bb, 2 k (S)
 
TOTALS - 8.0 ip, 4 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 11 k, 1-1, 4 sv, 1.13 era, 0.50 whip
 
Just unbelievable.
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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Koji's definitely getting MVP consideration at this point if the Sox pull it out. His only real rivals are probably Napoli, with his two epic bombs, and obviously Lackey if it goes seven and he wins another. 
 

ivanvamp

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Lester has been really good this series too:  11.2 ip, 13 h, 3 r, 3 er, 4 bb, 7 k, 2.31 era
 
But yes, to me, Koji has been the Sox' MVP this series so far.  
 

Ferm Sheller

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BCsMightyJoeYoung said:
Glenn Hall .. The Hall of Fame goalie from the Black Hawks used to have the same problem. I think he'd even throw up between periods.
 
I recall reading in John Madden's book (when I was a kid) that Ted Hendricks, the Raiders' LBer, not only threw up before every game, but in fact the team wouldn't take the field until he did.  It was a pre-game ritual.
 

syoo8

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According to WPA, it's Uehara by a landslide for ALCS MVP-- thus far.
 
[tablegrid= 2013 Red Sox ALCS WPA, Games 1-5 ]2013 RED SOX ALCS WPA                 ALCS 1 ALCS 2 ALCS 3 ALCS 4 ALCS 5 TOTAL               Uehara .039 .140 .355 - .292 .826 Lackey - - .422 - - .422 Lester .178 - - - .114 .292 Breslow .053 - .047 - .090 .190 Tazawa .058 - .007 - -.027 .038 Doubront - .011 - .001 - .012 Workman - .014 - -.003 - .011 Morales - - - .004 - .004 Dempster - - - .003 - .003 Buchholz - -.143 - - - -.143 Peavy - - - -.314 - -.314 Pitching .328 .022 .831 -.309 .469 1.341               Gomes - .230 -.021 -.007 -.021 .181 Napoli -.142 -.027 .126 .043 .163 .163 Ortiz -.150 .441 -.030 -.069 -.058 .134 Ross -.001 - - - .104 .103 Nava .106 - - -.017 - .089 Berry .045 - - - - .045 Bogaerts -.145 - - .010 .084 -.051 Ellsbury -.106 .011 -.019 .032 .024 -.058 Pedroia .028 .014 -.101 -.012 -.049 -.120 Saltalamacchia -.036 .024 -.071 -.039 - -.122 Carp -.049 -.113 - -.012 - -.174 Middlebrooks -.060 -.010 -.097 -.019 - -.186 Drew -.229 -.060 .008 -.067 -.062 -.410 Victorino -.090 -.034 -.126 -.032 -.155 -.437 Hitting -.829 .476 -.331 -.189 .030 -.843 [/tablegrid] 
 

The Gray Eagle

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One-run saves against good teams are really hard to pull off. One-run saves where you have to get the last 4 or 5 outs are exceptional. That's two in a row for Koji now.
 
This team keeps asking more and more from him and he keeps delivering.
 

jscola85

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Really hope he doesn't wear down.  That was a lot of pitches for an old guy last night.  Thank god for the travel day.  Would be really nice if our offense could just smack around Scherzer and give Koji even more rest!
 

Bucknahs Bum Ankle

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This belongs here:
 


 
What a complete 180 from Koji's typical celebrations of exuberance.  It goes to show how much the stress of the situation and having to get 5 key outs with little to no margin for error must have really wore him down.  This one was different.  That said, I have no doubt he'll be amped up and ready to go again for another big save in Game 6 if needed. 
 

SouthernBoSox

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He's worn out. But it's clearly more mental than anything. He's never had to so anything like this before. And honestly he's being asked to set up and close it out. It's pretty incredible.

I'm not to worried about the workload. Even though he's pitched a lot, he's still been efficient and limited the pitch count. He threw 26 pitches last night. Lets not act like that's a monster number.
 

Al Zarilla

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One reporter (was it?) was kidding around with Koji about how many outs he felt comfortable coming in to get in a closing situation. He dodged around a bit and then said, or put up 4 or 5 fingers, saying that would be his max. Anybody else see that? Let's say I'm 70 - 30 that it was 5 outs. Definitely not 6 though. If so, that was his own maximum save situation last night. 
 

joe dokes

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Uehara slumped in a clubhouse chair after the game, having completed his usual postgame workout. At 38, he has become an indispensible member of a team that is shocking baseball after finishing in last place a season ago.
It was in Detroit in late June when the Red Sox decided to make Uehara the closer after Andrew Bailey blew a save. He has been almost flawless since, particularly in the playoffs.
“I’m tired,” Uehara said in English. “Need to sleep.”
 
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/10/17/red-sox-beat-tigers-take-lead-alcs/PMA1cfTqZ036yY7uSeKxtJ/story.html
 

rodderick

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Al Zarilla said:
One reporter (was it?) was kidding around with Koji about how many outs he felt comfortable coming in to get in a closing situation. He dodged around a bit and then said, or put up 4 or 5 fingers, saying that would be his max. Anybody else see that? Let's say I'm 70 - 30 that it was 5 outs. Definitely not 6 though. If so, that was his own maximum save situation last night. 
 
I'm pretty certain it was 4, but I could be wrong on that. 
 

JimD

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SouthernBoSox said:
He's worn out. But it's clearly more mental than anything. He's never had to so anything like this before. And honestly he's being asked to set up and close it out. It's pretty incredible.

I'm not to worried about the workload. Even though he's pitched a lot, he's still been efficient and limited the pitch count. He threw 26 pitches last night. Lets not act like that's a monster number.
 
I'm a little bit concerned about the workload.  He is well over his previous MLB highs in appearances and innings pitched, and looking only at the pitch count is deceiving - this series has been brutal in terms of pressure.  He looked gassed last night - it would be great if they could get ahead on Saturday and build up enough of a run cushion to allow Dempster to close it out and give Koji a five-day break before the WS.
 

m0ckduck

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MyDaughterLovesTomGordon said:
Koji's definitely getting MVP consideration at this point if the Sox pull it out. His only real rivals are probably Napoli, with his two epic bombs, and obviously Lackey if it goes seven and he wins another. 
 
I agree he should, but closers don't seem to get much consideration for postseason MVP awards unless they're Mariano Rivera. After Foulke got shafted for the 2004 WS MVP, no oversight would surprise me along these lines...
 

smastroyin

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Hopefully if he doesn't get it, it's because Ortiz has a 2 hr 5 rbi game tomorrow
 

trekfan55

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m0ckduck said:
 
I agree he should, but closers don't seem to get much consideration for postseason MVP awards unless they're Mariano Rivera. After Foulke got shafted for the 2004 WS MVP, no oversight would surprise me along these lines...
 
In 2004 a case could be made for David Ortiz.  He won Games 4 and 5 (had the HR that brought them within 1 in the 8th inning of Game 1 as well) had the HR in Game 7 after Damon had been thrown out...
 
In this case, I don't see any player having an impact higher than Uehara in the Sox 3 wins so far.  Both his saves were of more than 3 outs and both were preserving a 1 run lead on the road.  And he pitched a scoreless 9th in a tie game the Sox won.  That's right now, he would have my vote.