Grant Brisbee wrote a great article last month that only came to my attention today. While browsing through Baseball Nation I came across a post entitled, Baseball’s Most Underrated Reliever.
Over the last five seasons, 40 relief pitchers have posted an ERA under 2.00 with 50 or more innings pitched in a season. Of those relievers, 25 of them are still active… The average salary of those 25 pitchers: about $5.4 million. Of those 25 relievers, there is exactly one who will make less than $1 million. Meet Scott Atchison.
Yesterday, while reading through Joe D’s Projected Opening Day Roster for the Mets, he called one of the many relievers we brought in on minor league deals “a lock for the bullpen”. No, it wasn’t Brandon Lyon, Josh Edgin or even Pedro Feliciano. It was right-hander Scott Atchison – the 36-year old late bloomer who made little headlines when the Mets signed him two weeks ago.
Brisbee chronicles Atchison’s complete career through the minors and majors, but here are just a few of his recent years:
After an elbow injury in 2005, Atchison comes back strong in ’06, striking out nearly three times as many batters as he walked, and posting a career-low 2.34 ERA in the Pacific Coast League.
Eight walks, 51 strikeouts, a 2.01 ERA, and exactly one homer allowed in 53 innings for Fresno, again in the Pacific Coast League. That led to 22 games in the majors for a bad Giants team, where he had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.5 and a 110 ERA+.
Good in Japan over two full seasons, finishing his last year with a 1.70 ERA and 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 90 innings for the Hanshin Tigers…
One of his more impressive minor-league seasons. Over 61 innings, Atchison struck out 72 and walked nine. His performance in the majors was good, with a 3.26 ERA in 30 innings and no home runs allowed…
The fourth-lowest ERA in baseball, just four-hundredths better than Aroldis Champan. Atchison missed August because of an elbow strain, but didn’t allow a run in five September innings…
Atchison was non-tendered by the Red Sox after last season because they didn’t want to pay him the $1 million or so he would have made in arbitration. It was that decision by the Red Sox that brought this seasoned veteran to the attention of one, Sandy Alderson.
Atchison missed a month with an elbow injury last August, but avoided surgery, came back in September, and made five scoreless appearances for the Sox. Yesterday, he downplayed any concerns and said he feels great, has had no recurrences and plans on pitching normally and without any holding back this Spring.
During his three seasons with Boston, Atchison has made 107 appearances while posting a 3.17 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a 94 strikeout to 34 walk ratio. Think we could have used an arm like that in the Mets pen over the last three seasons?
Last season, Atchison turned things up a notch and in 42 appearances (51.1 IP), he compiled a 1.58 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 4.0 K/BB and a .223 BAA.
Color me impressed.