After a terrific 2012 season, putting up a 2.06 ERA, we spent a good part of the off-season waiting for Darren Oliver to decide should I stay or should I go? After a fair bit of schmoozing by Alex, he decided to stay for one more season. I'm sure that by the end of April he was wishing that he was on some beach, somewhere.
He wasn't near as good as last year.
He had 8 holds and 3 blown saves.
Fangraphs had him at 0.7 WAR, making him worth $700,000 to Jays.
Oliver had a 4.05 FIP and 3.74 xFIP. He allowed a .291 BABIP, up from .272 last year.
His strikeout rate was down from last year (7.35/9, down from 8.26). Walks were up (2.76/9, up from 2.38). And his home runs were up more than double last year's (1.10/9, up from .48).
Darren gave up fewer line drives (19.4%, down from 21.8). More ground balls (47.5%, up from 44.2). Fewer fly balls 33.1%, from 34.0). And a lot more of the flies hit off him went out of the park (13.0%, up from 6.0). In some ways he just suffered from bad luck, or maybe just less good look than in the past.
A left-handed pitcher he was much better vs. right-handed batters (.211/.298/.321) than lefties (.324/.351/.581). He had reverse splits last year too. It's tough to use a left-handed pitcher that has a big reverse split.
Batters hit better against Darren on the road (.271/.333/.438, 3 home runs) than at home (.241/.302/.414 3 home runs). But his ERA was higher at home (4.26) than on the road (3.42). One of those small sample size things.
April: 0-1, 3.27 ERA, batters hit .289/.340/.467 with 1 home run, in 11 innings.
May: 2-0, 3.00 ERA, batters hit .261/.320/.478 with 1 home run, in 6 innings.
June: 1-0, 4.50 ERA, batters hit .250/.318/.400 with 1 home run, in 6 innings.
July: 0-1, 4.09 ERA, batters hit .205/.279/.436 with 2 home runs, in 11 innings.
August: 0-2, 5.79 ERA, batters hit .297/.366/.459 with 1 home run, in 9.1 innings.
September: 0-0, 1.59 ERA, batters hit .211/.250/.211 with 0 home runs, in 5.2 innings.
It must not have been a fun season for Darren. He got talked into coming back, was told what an important part of the team he was and then he spent much of the season pitching mop up for a lousy team.
He didn't have the best of seasons, and the huge reverse splits didn't help I'm sure. We likely would have been just as well off if he had retired, but then there's likely a value to having someone with his experience to talk to the younger pitchers in the bullpen. Or maybe there would have been more value in giving his innings to a younger pitcher.
This year, I heard more about Oliver's 'facial expressions' and body language than any other player on the team. I never understand that stuff. Why would we try to guess how much a player cares? Players doing can't win. If they get mad and break things, they are wrong. If they don't get mad and break things, they are wrong. If they smile during a loss they are wrong. If they look dour they are wrong.
Oliver's had a really good career in the majors. 20 seasons. 766 games. I hope he's happy in retirement. Retirement at 43, after make $50 million, we should all be so lucky.