Key Stats: 48.8% – Ryan Madson’s ground ball percentage. The Phillies play in a band box, but no one gets HR’s if they hit the ball on the ground. Madson has a great ability to strike guys out (9.08, 10.87 and 9.20 K/9 since 2009) and not allow well hit balls. Despite a BABIP of .315 (.300 is considered about average) the numbers on hit balls are favorable. His line drive rate was 17.5% (2nd best in his career) and his HR to Flyball ratio was a paltry 3.7%. I think this is due to the way he attacked hitters last year, giving them a healthy amount of fastballs on or just off the plate, and then keeping his change up low and in to righties or low and away to lefties. He got batters to chase pitches outside the zone more last year than he ever had before.
Skeptics Say: People say he lacks the “closer mentality”, which I don’t understand. Last year was the first year he was officially a closer and he finished the year with a 4-2 record with 2 blown saves. I don’t really know much about what goes on inside the head of a pitcher (I’d be making a lot more money if I did) but I think it’s pretty safe to say that if a dude finishes the year with 32 saves, 2 loses and 2 blown saves (one game he picked up a L and BS) there isn’t anything wrong with his mentality, and he can be trusted to take the ball in the 9th.
Peer Comparison: Heath Bell is generally considered one of the best closers in baseball and comparing his primary fantasy baseball scoring stats with Madson is impressive:
Bell: 62.2 IP; 3 W; 43 SV; 51 K; 2.44 ERA; 1.15 WHIP
Madson: 60.2 IP; 4 W; 32 SV; 62 K; 2.37 ERA; 1.15 WHIP
I’m a proponent of WHIP being used as a scoring stat in fantasy. Anyway, I think the only difference we see here is the number of saves each player has. This shouldn’t be a surprise since the Phillies are a higher scoring team than the Padres which leads to games with fewer save opportunities.
Team Outlook: A lot of people are speculating that Madson will not be returning as the Phillies closer next year. He is going to have earned (or be demanding, after all he is a Boras client) an expensive contract that the Phillies may not be willing to pay out (especially with Bastardo still in the ‘pen). Regardless of where he ends up, this is a guy that will get a save just about every time he plays in that situation.
Projection: Obviously the number of saves Madson gets will be determined by his opportunities which will be determined by whichever team he ends up with. Even if he signs on a team that isn’t projected to be a contender he can still be extremely useful (See: Joel Hanrahan and Joakim Soria from years past). Is it a cop-out to give a range for the Saves projection? Sigh… probably…
33 Saves, 2.40 ERA, 68 K’s and a 1.13 WHIP in 63 Innings.