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Roster review: Craig Stammen

Oct 23, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 30

How acquired: 12th round pick, 2005 draft

MLB service time: 3 years, 160 days

2013 salary+bonuses: $875,000

Contract status: Signed for $1.375 million in 2014, arbitration-eligible in 2015 and 2016, free agent in 2017

2013 Stats: 55 G, 81.2 IP, 78 H, 30 R, 25 ER, 4 HR, 27 BB, 79 K, 1.286 WHIP, 0 SV, 1 BS, 7-6, 2.76 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 1.0 WAR

Quotable: “I’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll have my cleats on. If it goes 20 innings, I’m sure I could flip something up there.” — Craig Stammen, May 31, after pitching four perfect innings of emergency relief when Stephen Strasburg departed with a strained lat muscle.

2013 analysis: After a breakthrough 2012 in which he reinvented himself as one of baseball’s best long relievers, Stammen earned a two-year, $2.25 million contract. Given the manner in which he duplicated his feats this season, that deal looks like a stroke of genius.

Stammen possesses the rare abilities both to pitch effectively for long stretches within one game and to bounce back and pitch again the next night. Twenty-one of his 55 appearances this season lasted at least two innings; he recorded seven or more outs eight times. His 49 appearances of two or more innings over the last two seasons lead all major-league relievers.

Stammen isn’t just durable, he’s also highly effective. He surrendered more than one earned run only seven times in 2013 and never allowed more than two in any outing.

2014 outlook: As previously stated, Stammen is already signed for next season, so he won’t need to go through the arbitration process. And his role on the club obviously is secure.

The biggest question might be how the Nationals’ new manager decides to use Stammen. Davey Johnson was a strong proponent of keeping two long relievers (one right-hander, one left-hander) in his bullpen, and Stammen mostly filled that role the last two seasons. A new manager might have a different philosophy on bullpen usage, so it’s entirely possible Stammen could find himself morphing into more of a traditional setup role, pitching one inning at a time and pitching later in games.

However he’s used, Stammen should remain a valuable member of this roster, a workhorse reliever who can thrive in just about any situation.

  1. David Proctor - Oct 23, 2013 at 6:07 AM

    Stammen had a stretch in the middle of the year where he really struggled, but he bounced back and finished strong. On the whole, another solid season. This is purely anecdotal, I don’t have the data in front of me, but it seems to me that he performed much better in long relief than when he was put in for one inning in a traditional setup role. I hope the new manager uses him accordingly.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/yankees-valued-3-billion-9-more-baseball-teams-125423194.html

    Do you want to get sick? I saw this on Bloomberg this morning. No big deal that the Yankees are worth $3.3 billion or the Dodgers worth $2.1. The Orioles are evaluated at $1.1 BILLION thanks to the MASN valuation!

    Where’s the. Nats on the list?

    Sickening and Angelose will continue to cry poor (all the way to the bank).

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:39 AM

      The Nats valuation is $850 million with $108 from MASN. The Orioles valuation included $492,000,000 from MASN.

      It’s interesting how the teams that don’t own their own RSNs are valued vs teams that get paid an Annual fee from cable.

      • Doc - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        Ghost, if I were the Lerners, I’d be suing MLB.

        Angelos is just another deadbeat lawyer who got luck with a class action settlement.

        I would have thought that the Dodgers would be valued at more, given their $2 billion TV contract.

      • Hiram Hover - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        MASN is currently the 4th most valuable RSN affiliated with an MLB club, valued at $600M in that report, behind the 2 NY teams and Boston. But almost 80% of that belongs to the Os right now.

        Doc – The Dodgers valuation as reported doesn’t include the value of their RSN, which as the article reports won’t go on line til 2014, and hasn’t been officially signed off on yet by MLB

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 23, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Hiram, based on a team(s) owned yes, but other teams will work out more lucrative and convoluted deals that individually worth quite a bit. The part of this that just is infuriating is the demography of the Washington DC market make it one of the best regions and Angelose is profiteering off of that to an unfair competitive imbalance.

  3. Section 222 - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    It’s pretty common for people to say “I don’t have the data in front of me, but it seems to me that ….” Some questions really can be answered by looking at the data, so it’s not a bad idea to look at the data before making a statement that really is about the data. Like recently when someone said something like, “I don’t have the data in front of me, but Soriano was much worse in non-save situations.” Turns out that just isn’t true when you look at the data. My guess is that Soriano’s one horrible appearance against the Pirates where he almost blew a 4 run lead created the impression. But he had plenty of solid, and completely unmemorable, appearances in non-save situations, and his overall numbers were comparable.

    With respect to Stammen, we remember a few times when he came in to pitch the 6th or 7th and gave up several runs, and we remember a few fantastic long relief outings. But before concluding that he’s much better in long relief than in a setup role, best look at the data.

    Though I set out to do the analysis thinking maybe this impression was also incorrect, in this case it was absolutely right. Stammen had 55 appearances. 30 were for one inning or less, in which he gave up 15 runs in 27 innings, for an ERA of 5.00. In his appearances of more than an inning, Stammen gave up only 9 runs in 25 appearances totalling 54 innings, for a 1.50 ERA. Very impressive.

    Interestingly, in September, Stammen made 10 appearances and never pitched more than an inning. He pitched a total of 9 innings, giving up 8 hits, 1 run, 2 BBs, and 12 Ks. His ERA was 1.00. So maybe he has figured something out. And maybe the data is skewed by the obvious fact that if he is not pitching effectively, Davey was less likely to leave him out there for more than an inning. Still, the numbers are pretty compelling. Maybe he relaxes more when he’s brought in to pitch multiple innings (often when the Nats are behind).

    One other item of note. In 2011 and 2012, Stammen was more effective against LH batters than RH batters. He was one of the reasons Rizzo thought he could get away with only one southpaw in the pen. Last year, not so much. Lefties hit .282 against him, righties .249.

    • Doc - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Thanks for the analysis, Section 222.

    • chiefwj - Oct 23, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      Can I flesh out 222’s good work?

      Stammen pitched 23 2/3 innings when he entered the game with the Nats ahead, with an ERA of 3.04.
      He pitched 15 innings when he entered the game with the Nats tied, with an ERA of 4.20.
      He pitched 43 innings when he entered the game with the Nats behind, with an ERA of 2.09 (the Nats wound up winning some of these games). These games account for the majority of his multi-inning outings.

      While this suggests that he was more effective in low leverage situations, he was excellent in September, mostly pitching in Hold situations in which the Nats were ahead, as 222 points out.

      • Section 222 - Oct 23, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        Very interesting, chief. Thanks.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Funny timing that Mattingly is now being linked to the Nats thru his agent making the mention of the Nats managerial opening. Kasten shouldn’t be too pleased with the end result but blaming Mattingly more than Colletti may not be fair. Kershaw fell apart in Game 6 and that didn’t seem like the managers fault.

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