In the Mets’ bullpen last year, it was Jeurys Familia who earned all the praise after setting the New York Mets’ single-season saves record (51 saves!) and even receiving two eighth-place votes for NL MVP. Meanwhile, it was Addison Reed who almost silently* had the better season of the two and was one of the best relief pitchers in MLB. Luckily for Reed, he is entering 2017–his last year of arbitration before free agency–with the opportunity to be the Mets closer; Familia is expected to be suspended for at least 30 games to begin to 2017 season for domestic violence, according to the New York Daily News.
(* – Editor’s Note: If you listen to For All You Kids Out There, it was not all that silent. But we digress.)
For Reed this will be his first opportunity to close since he lost the role as a Diamondback before being traded to the Mets in 2015. Unfortunately, Mets fans could wrongly make inferences on Addison Reed’s potential success at closer based on three statistics: saves, blown saves, and save percentage.
|Save Opportunities||Saves||Blown Saves||Save Percentage|
It’s wrong to make judgment on these three statistics because it is important to note that Reed’s save opportunities are an extremely small sample size and also represent different in-game situations than when Familia appeared. Instead of these three statistics, fans should be looking at advanced metrics from Baseball Prospectus (shameless plug!), which show that Reed was clearly the more dominant pitcher this past season. He earned double the value of Familia in WARP and had a better Deserved Run Average (DRA) and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). This is also a small sample size given it was just one season, but Reed pitched in 80 games for the New York Mets in 2016; that’s a much larger sample than those five save opps. Even more surprising is the fact that Reed even dominated the strikeout game more with 10.5 K/9 compared to Familia’s 9.7. Finally, he also mastered his command by not walking batters either, putting together the sixth-best K/BB ratio among MLB relievers. The comparison of Reed and Familia by multiple fancy statistics is shown below.
Compared to the rest of his career, these numbers are a bit of an anomaly for Reed. All of these numbers were career bests whereas Familia had a down year relative to 2015. But that does not mean that the numbers should be discounted; we should just be aware that they could possibly regress. Reed’s 2016 season is favorable compared to many of the top relief pitchers and closers in baseball. Only four relief pitchers had higher BWARPs during the 2016 season: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Kenley Jansen. One pitcher that could be an interesting comparison is Mark Melancon who–like Reed–does not have overpowering stuff.
Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million contract this offseason. This comparison is a little bit of a stretch given that Melancon has had consistent success since he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Boston Red Sox back in 2013, while Reed certainly has not. But I believe that if Reed can repeat his performance in 2016, he can set himself up for a decent pay day next offseason. Considering he is in position already to earn over $10 million in 2017 through arbitration, he is going to fetch a large long-term contract next off-season having just turned 28 on December 28. Assuming that Jeurys Familia returns and performs similarly to his 2015 self, I don’t see the Mets being that team to give Addison Reed that contract. The Mets typically are bottom feeders in the relief pitcher market looking to lock up diamonds in the rough instead of going for that big-name free agent. (Francisco Rodriguez of course being the notable exception.)
If the Mets are out of the playoff picture come July 31, I would not be surprised if the Mets try to trade Reed. They would get nothing for him next offseason if they did not trade him, as they probably wouldn’t offer him the qualifying offer. With the return that the Pirates got for a half season of Mark Melancon, the Mets should at least entertain offers for Reed to see what they can get from a contender in need of another relief pitcher.
Until the time comes to decide on Addison Reed’s future it is time to appreciate all that he has done for the Mets the last season and a half and have some optimism in using him as the closer this year. And if the Mets are in contention mid-way through the year then they will greatly benefit from a one-two punch of Reed and Familia.
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