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2011 Season in Review: Mike Pelfrey

The New York Mets went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an ongoing series, will analyze every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey.

No current starting pitcher on the Mets has arguably disappointed as many fans as Mike Pelfrey over the years. In 2008–in his first full-season–Pelf hurled a promising 3.72 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 1.72 K/BB in 200.6 innings. Even though the righty’s 4.45 xFIP suggested his pretty ERA wasn’t for real, fans had already set their expectations very high for 2009. As his xFIP predicted, Big Pelf struggled mightily in 2009, regressing to a 5.03 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 1.62 K/BB in 184.3 innings. Similar to 2008, the pitcher’s xFIP stood at 4.47 in 2009–clearly indicating what kind of performance to more or less expect from the ground-baller.

With fans calling for Pelfrey’s head, the former first round pick silenced critics with a 3.66 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 1.66 K/BB in 204 innings during 2010. In fact, the 26 year-old only endured one truly bad month (July: 10.02 ERA, 2.66 WHIP, and 0.77 K/BB in 20.6 innings). But again, Pelfrey’s 4.31 xFIP warned fans not to get excited [again] about the pitcher’s surface stats. Given the Johan Santana-less rotation in 2011, the Mets were banking on Pelfrey to finally step up, and become a consistent source of quality innings. Unfortunately, Pelf did not provide that.

The pitcher ballooned back up to a 4.74 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, and 1.62 K/BB in 193.6 innings during 2011. The 2011 season was an important year for Big Mike considering the 27 year-old could have potentially seen a lucrative contract extension–or at the very least, a high-flying raise through arbitration. However, due to his career-worst K/9 (4.88 K/9), GB% (45.6%), HR/9 (0.98), Contact% (87.6%), Non-Strike Contact% (81%), and SwStr% (5.5%), Pelf simply could not produce like he needed to. And while Pelfrey boasted a five-pitch arsenal, only his fastball (0.8 RAA) registered in the positive column.

Assuming the Mets tender Mike Pelfrey a contract for 2012, the righty will unjustly see his $3.925 million salary spike to the $5.8-6 million range–even though Fan Graphs calculated he was only worth $3.1 million in 2011. Without a doubt, Pelfrey is no longer a top-of-the-rotation hopeful, but now back-of-the-rotation fodder.

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