Baltimore Orioles fans, despite their loud calling for the replacement of Jim Johnson during the 2013 season, were somewhat outraged when the team traded Johnson to the Oakland A's, thus barring a free agent signing, Tommy Hunter appeared to be the apparent incumbent for the closer's role.
As we all know, the Orioles attempted to sign Grant Balfour, but backed out of the deal due to the results of his physical, thus Hunter was given the job.
Thus far in 2014, Hunter has been scary in the ninth, but has ultimately gotten the job done as he has converted ten of his 11 save chances. He currently boasts a 2.84 ERA and has picked up a win in 14 appearances and 12 2/3 innings pitched. His ten saves rank tied for third in all of baseball and leads the American League.
So those are the good numbers for Hunter, but they end there.
Hunter has been getting the job done, but not making it easy on he or fans as every save has been a nail biter, and he has yet to record a 1-2-3 inning this season.
So what are the bad numbers?
Hunter currently has a .320 opponents batting average against him with a 1.50 WHIP and has averaged just under 18 pitches per inning. He has allowed 16 hits in his 12 2/3 innings pitched, while allowing 11.4 hits per nine innings.
Those are somewhat of the basic stats that are not very favorable for Hunter, but the advanced statistics are even worse for the closer. Hunter currently has a .395 BAbip, which is defined as batting average balls in play, meaning that when opponents put the ball in play, they are hitting .395 against him. Another great sabremetric stat is sOPS+ which is defined as OPS for split relative to League's split OPS, meaning that when the number is greater than 100, it indicates the pitcher did worse than usual in this split and Hunter currently has a 138, which is not good.
It is not all bad for Hunter as the save conversion rate is good, and he is holding opponents to a .226 average with runners on base, which is pretty good. Unfortunately, Hunter is facing a lot of those situations because opponents are hitting .474 against him with the bases empty.
Oddly enough, coming into this season, the biggest concerns surrounding Hunter was his track record against left handers and his frequency of giving up home runs, but he has been better in both regards this season. Hunter has allowed just one home run thus far and left handers are hitting .261 this season as opposed to the .293 average they have over his career.
Ultimately, the save conversion rate is the most important statistic for a closer and right now he has converted ten of 11, which any team in baseball would take, but they say karma has a way of catching you and if he continues to put runners on and put himself in tough situations, you would think he would eventually get bitten.
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