Mitchell Boggs: Guilty By Association

by on June 13, 2012 · 0 comments

I knew I would see them, just as soon as A.J. Pierzynski deposited a baseball into the stands.  They were coming, as sure as the Cardinals would lose the game, and I couldn’t help but search them out.

It was time for the “Mitchell Boggs sucks” tweets.

This strikes me as odd, since Boggs’ 1.250 average leverage index this season is second on the team only to Jason Motte‘s 1.617 aLi, and yet Boggs has the highest win probability added of any reliever (0.4 – for comparison, Motte is -0.7).

I think there are a number of reasons why he’s legit, but just to name one, he’s been the most efficient Cardinal reliever at stranding inherited runners.  Save for Kyle McClellan‘s one runner stranded, Boggs has the best strand rate at 87% – and it’s not small sample size comparably, he’s inherited 16, second only to Victor Marte‘s 17.

This is just a case of what have you done for me lately.  Boggs surrendered only his second home run of the season last night, the first was only ten days ago.  So he got into June without surrendering a long ball.  Motte has watched four leave the park, Marc Rzepczynski five.  Surprisingly, the only pitcher keeping them in the yard better is Fernando Salas (and Eduardo Sanchez, in fewer innings).

A 147 ERA+ and 0.632 OPS against would seem to communicate something other than awful, at least to me?

If what Boggs has done thus far in 2012 is underperforming, I think there were unreasonable expectations set for him.  Sure, he could stand to walk fewer batters, I’d love to see a higher strikeout rate from a guy trying to thwart scoring opportunities, and his facial hair is definitely underperforming compared to early 2012.

I should make it clear that I’m not trying to pick on the folks above – I certainly understand and share in their frustrations – but Mitchell Boggs certainly hasn’t been the problem.  Twitter is a very instant medium – action, emotion, reaction, tweet it to the world – that allows us all to take our frustrations out on our tweeter machine of choice.  Or more accurately in this instance, take frustrations out on whichever reliever was in the game last while the Cardinals were losing.

Yes, the bullpen as a whole has struggled.

Yes, Boggs gave up a home run last night to put the game further out of reach.

No, I don’t think Mitchell Boggs “sucks”.

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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