A local friend who reads all my articles suggested I do a follow-up article. This is it! Enjoy!
My 15 November 2022 article recommended that the Diamondbacks acquire relief pitcher David Bednar. Four candidates were considered and my choice was David Bednar. The article explained why he might have been available to acquire.
How good was that recommendation? Was his pitching a bust, was his pitching average, or did his pitching exceed all expectations?
I’m happy to report that he is having a career best season and he exceeded my expectations. This season through 21 May, he pitched 17 one-inning relief appearances with only one earned run. His ERA was a miniscule 0.53 and his ERA+ was an unheard of 844 ERA+.
He successfully dealt with adversity. On 22 May in the ninth inning against Josh Jung of the Rangers, with a 4-run lead he allowed a 2-run homer. This season Josh Jung has 11 homers in 197 PAs. Bednar was unflappable and completed the inning for the save. His 1.50 ERA is now in mere mortal territory and his 198 ERA+ remains impressive.
Even after the homer, Baseball Savant shows a lot of red! His 100 for expected ERA is remarkable. What I like is his whiffs are at the 98th percentile!
My recommendation was based largely on his 96.4 MPH fastball velocity, his 4.9 ratio of strikeouts to walks, he was 27 years old, and he pitched for a team with poor defense. His save percentage was almost too high to recommend him because the acquisition needed to be low-cost and high-potential.
Last season he exceeded the three stats that I look at first for relief pitchers (strikeouts per batter faced, whiffs per pitch, and balls-in-play per strike. This season, David Bednar improved his results for two of the three statistics. For details, see the following table.
What changed this season? Two things changed.
- Instead of pitching mostly in the eighth and ninth inning, this season he exclusively pitched in the ninth inning.
- His fastball is a career best (based on a negative 2.8 run-value-per-hundred-pitches of negative 2.8).
David Bednar is now unaffordable due to his increased performance.
A new opportunity grabbed my attention.
Before I share his name, let’s look at his stats. This season, his pitching statistics changed. Some were worse while the important ones got better.
- Worse were: ground balls fell from 38% to 33%, homers per fly ball rose from 8.6% to 12.0%, and hard hit percent increased from 28.6% to 36.7% per FanGraphs.
- Better were: Strikeout per batter faced increased from 18.3% to 25.6%, whiffs per pitch increased from 18.6% to 20.2% and balls-in-play per strike fell from 31.4% to 21.2% per Baseball Reference. As shown in the previous table, excellent relievers often exceed the following thresholds for those stats >25%, >13%, and <26.5%. By those stats the new acquisition candidate is an excellent reliever.
This season his .298 BABIP is one indication that his results are sustainable. Another indication is that his average fastball velocity was 98.1 MPH.
His Baseball Savant stats are very good. His fastball velocity and spin are impressive.
His results could improve if the Diamondbacks acquired him:
- His team, the Royals has much worse defense than the Diamondbacks. The Royals’ negative 17 DRS was ranked 27th/28th in the Majors while the Diamondbacks’ +23 DRS was ranked second.
- His excellent 3.13 xFIP is generally considered predictive of future pitching results.
His team, the Royals’ 15-37 win-loss record is solidly lst place in the AL Central Division. So there is a chance that the Diamondbacks could acquire him.
On 9 April of this season he left the game with the trainer. It was speculated that he was injured, but he pitched on the 11th and 14th, allowing zero earned runs. Perhaps it was just a muscle cramp.
With the caveat that relief pitchers are volatile so any acquisition is risky, a possible acquisition is Carlos Hernandez.
In November David Bednar was my recommendation as an acquisition candidate for the Diamondbacks. He exceeded expectations, so it was a missed opportunity. There will be other opportunities, such as Carlos Hernandez of the Royals.