Chris Perez and the Elusive Perfect Appearance

Perez, Chris_2

Last night’s ninth inning implosion by Chris Perez was almost laughably predictable. So much so, in fact, that I chimed in to any within earshot at the bar that it was bound to happen as the team closed out the eighth inning with a 3-to-2 lead.

I just didn’t think it would happen in such spectacular fashion.

The setting: Cleveland, well positioned for the playoffs for the first time since 2007, owns a one game lead over the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. The club’s mercurial closer – and owner of a 6.11 ERA since August 5 – are three outs away from wrapping up another much needed victory. The bottom third of the Sox’s lineup is the only thing standing in the way.

Perez promptly serves up a moon-shot to left fielder Dayan Viciedo, who, by the way, has been about 5% below the league average offensively. The next two hitters, Gordon Beckham and Jordan Danks, go down swinging. And then, of course, Alejandro De Aza, another slightly below-average hitter this season, lifts the next Perez offering past the right-center wall for a potentially game-winning dinger. Until Jason Giambi’s at bat in the ninth inning.

I’ve caught a lot of the Indians games this season, a combination of not having much to do and, well, because they’re my team. And it seems like every time Perez takes the mound a tightrope walk ensues. Well, my hunch was correct.

Chris Perez has been one of the worst closers in baseball this season when it comes to making a “perfect appearance.” In other words: an outing where no hits or walks are issued. Below are the 28 relievers to accumulate 20+ saves, along with their subsequent number of outings and perfect appearances.

 

Closer Appearances Perfect Apps. Percentage
Koji Uehara 71 43 60.56%
Greg Holland 66 31 46.97%
Casey Janssen 56 26 46.43%
Glen Perkins 60 27 45.00%
Edward Mujica 63 28 44.44%
Joe Nathan 63 28 44.44%
Bobby Parnell 49 21 42.86%
Craig Kimbrel 66 28 42.42%
Kenley Jansen 74 30 40.54%
Sergio Romo 62 25 40.32%
Mariano Rivera 63 25 39.68%
Jason Grilli 53 21 39.62%
Aroldis Chapman 67 26 38.81%
Addison Reed 67 25 37.31%
Jose Veras 65 24 36.92%
Steve Cishek 66 24 36.36%
Fernando Rodney 67 24 35.82%
Huston Street 56 20 35.71%
Tom Wilhelmsen 57 20 35.09%
Joaquin Benoit 64 21 32.81%
Grant Balfour 63 20 31.75%
Jonathan Papelbon 60 19 31.67%
Rafael Soriano 67 20 29.85%
Jim Johnson 71 20 28.17%
Ernesto Frieri 65 18 27.69%
Jim Henderson 59 16 27.12%
Chris Perez 53 14 26.42%
Kevin Gregg 61 16 26.23%


Perez has been so inefficient in terms of mowing down the side that the only reliever to do worse, Kevin Gregg, wasn’t even the Cubs’ closer on Opening Day and certainly won’t be in the same position come Opening Day 2014.

But let’s put that in perspective for a moment, the following are the totals for the Indians bullpen. (Note: Marc Rzepczynski’s totals include his time in St. Louis.)

 

Closer Appearances Perfect Apps. Percentage
Rich Hill 61 23 37.70%
Joe Smith 68 25 36.76%
Marc Rzepczynski 34 12 35.29%
Cody Allen 74 25 33.78%
Vinnie Pestano 37 11 29.73%
Bryan Shaw 68 20 29.41%
Nick Hagadone 36 10 27.78%
Chris Perez 53 14 26.42%
Matt Albers 53 13 24.53%

 

So, yeah, Perez ranks second to last again, besting only equally replaceable reliever Matt Albers. Now to be fair Rich Hill and Marc Rzepczynski has been called upon an awful lot in platoon situations, but they do get the job down.

And, yes, I couldn’t write a Chris Perez post without mentioning for the umpteenth time that I wrote, “My only fear is that the team really punted on getting a maximum return for him this past offseason.” With the second highest ERA of his career, a negative wins above replacement value and a -0.32 WP/LI, Perez’s potential trade value has fallen nearly as much as his popularity in Cleveland. Oh. Yeah. He’s probably going to make something near $10 million next season, his final arbitration-controlled year. 

 

Photo of Chris Perez Courtesy of Jim Rogash/Getty Images via SI.com.



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.