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Papelbon Sure to Become a Fan Favorite This Season
- Updated: February 13, 2012
Every Philadelphia Phillies fan knows what type of an impact a top-notch closer can have on any given season, series, or game.
When Brad Lidge capped off his perfect 48-48 season with a strikeout to win the World Series back in 2008, it was tough not to recognize Lidge as one of the most important pieces on the team. Sometimes he was dominant and sometimes he was inconsistent, but he got the job done every single time he was called upon that season.
The Phillies are hoping to recapture the magic at the back end of the bullpen with new closer Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a 4-year, $50 million deal to join the team this off-season. Papelbon is one of the premier closers in baseball and has been since his impressive 2006 campaign, when he finished in second in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year.
That year, Papelbon finished with a record of 4-2 and a ridiculous 0.92 ERA in 68.1 innings for the Boston Red Sox. He made the American League All-Star team, the first of 4-straight All-Star game appearances, and catapulted his way into the discussion of baseball’s best closers.
Doubters of Papelbon will point to his down year in 2010 as a reason that the Phillies over-paid for the 31-year-old closer. The year certainly wasn’t something to remember for Papelbon, who posted the highest ERA (3.90) and worst record (5-7) of his 7 year career.
He rebounded big time last season, however, and silenced many critics who thought the fiery competitor had somehow lost ‘it’ and wouldn’t be as effective as he was in his first few seasons.
In 2011, Papelbon finished with a 4-1 record with a 2.94 ERA, and allowed just 3 home runs in 64.1 innings pitched. The 3 home runs allowed were his lowest total since his rookie campaign in 2006, and his win percentage (.800) was the best of any of his seven seasons.
Papelbon’s strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2011 (8.70) was his highest since 2008. His strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (12.2), hits allowed per 9 innings pitched (7.0), and walks plus hits allowed per inning pitched (.933) were all his best numbers since the 2007 season.
Still worried about that 2010 season?
If you are, there’s still more comforting available in the form of Papelbon’s career postseason statistics.
In his playoff career, he has allowed a total of 3 runs in 27.0 innings pitched, which is good for a 1.00 postseason ERA. The right-handed hurler has allowed just 14 hits, while striking out 23 in his 18 playoff appearances.
Although statistics are being looked at more often now than ever before in baseball, Papelbon brings more to the Phillies than just his impressive numbers. He brings a fire and passion for the game that Phillies fans will quickly grow to love.
“I like his energy. I like his determination,” Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel said. “Our fans are going to really like him because he gets after it. He’s accountable for what he does. He definitely carries himself in a very aggressive way. He definitely sends you a message when he’s on the mound that, “I’m going to get you.”
Papelbon has a personality that will light up the sell-out crowds at Citizens Bank Park and the other hard working pitchers in the Phillies’ bullpen. Pitchers like Michael Stutes and Michael Schwimer should certainly benefit from the passion and intensity that Papelbon brings to the ballpark every day.