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2010 Retrospective: Jamey Wright

Jamey Wright took a lot of flak this season as the ultimate symbol of the holes in Don Wakamatsu's thinking when it came to the bullpen. Jamey Wright was someone that Wak specifically sought out and Wak cited Wright's time with Texas when Wak was there as the basis for his trust in Wright. In the year that Jamey Wright pitched for the Rangers while Wak was a coach, Wright put 44 men on base via walk or hit by pitch. He struck out just 39.

That 3489_medium seemed to cement the spirit of opinion surrounding Wak's personnel decisions in 2010. Jamey Wright is not good, he's 35 and the season was already lost. The innings going to Wright would benefit the organization more by going to pieces that had a chance to contribute in 2011 and beyond.

That is the strategic argument against Jamey Wright and I do find it credible. In isolation however, Jamey Wright was not an ineffective reliever for the Mariners. I often talk of pitchers as existing as representation of three skills: generating swinging strikes, avoiding walks and inducing ground balls.

If you imagine pitchers plotted in a 3D graph with these three variables then Jamey Wright exists on one of the borders. Of all qualified relievers in baseball last year, Wright's 4.2% swinging strike rate was dead last* and by a sizable margin. Eddie Bonine had the next lowest at 5.0%.

*Incidentally, the pitcher with the smallest swinging strike rate amongst qualified starters? Doug Fister. 2010 everybody!

Wright's walk rate was in line with average for a bullpenner but his ground ball rate as a Mariner was seventh best. That is where Wright mitigated his strikeout deficiency and it worked. Wright's 4.39 xFIP in a Seattle uniform is not precisely sexy, but might be surprising given the lack of enthusiasm surrounding his outings.

That's not a number that I feel offers any relief for the future. As I stated above, I agree with the grand point that Wright's acquisition and usage was overall a wasted opportunity. Tactically though, once already on board, Wright did no further damage to a Mariner ship already half submerged and incompetently crewed. And, well, that's something.