Detroit Tigers 2016 Season Review: Francisco Rodriguez
Despite the last appearance of Detroit Tigers pitcher, Francisco Rodriguez, it is safe to say that the veteran closer had a solid season.
In what has historically been a troubling spot for Detroit Tigers relief pitchers, K-Rod managed the 9th inning in 61 games. Throughout those games, he had 49 save opportunities and earned 44, which figures to be an 89.8% save percentage.
While Tigers fans will remember him for that blown save on September 24 against the Kansas City Royals at home, that game was not a snapshot of his overall season. The game that best represented his overall season was the game he saved just a few days prior. In this game, he pitched in the 9th inning against the Minnesota Twins, striking out one batter and not giving up a hit or a run.
As a 15-year veteran of the league, the 34-year-old Frankie still has command of his pitches. His unique wind-up and release, as well as his cheek full of chew, made him a pitcher that kept fans interested in the game. Tigers fans have been known to walk out prior to the end of the game, but Frankie always managed to keep the last inning full of suspense. According to Fangraphs, he may not command the fastball like he used to, but he was able to create groundballs nearly 55% of the time. His fastball averaged 89.2 MPH and his change-up at 83.4 MPH kept batters off kilter in most games.
There were a few highlights to the veteran’s 2016 season. He was not invited to the All-Star Game, despite having last been there in 2015 when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. But, he was able to cross off a few major milestones. In the American League, he earned the second-most saves (44), finishing behind Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles. This next number is the most impressive: of active closing pitchers, he has the most saves with 430. Of all pitchers, he is fourth in saves, just behind legends like Mariano Rivera (652), Trevor Hoffman (601), and Lee Smith (478). The amazing part is that Rodriguez is only 34 years old.
More from Detroit Tigers News
- Detroit Tigers: Victor Reyes finding ways to get the job done
- The Detroit Tigers must cut their losses and release Jonathan Schoop
- Detroit Tigers: Garrett Hill’s new role and changed delivery are excellent
- Detroit Tigers: Joe Jiménez has rebounded in 2022
- Detroit Tigers: Is it finally time to move the fences in at Comerica Park?
K-Rod’s WAR in 2016 was 1.1. In 2015 and 2014 when he was an All-Star, his WAR numbers were 1.7 and 1.5 respectively. What was impressive was his Game-Entering Leverage Index, which was 1.88. In his previous seasons with other teams, he only had three other seasons with higher numbers. His highest was in 2008 with the Angels when he his gmLI was 2.15 and his WAR was 2.4. While 2016 was not his best season, he did manage respectable numbers.
Stay or Go in 2017?
Now that the season is finished and the Hot Stove season is arriving, K-Rod has become a topic conversation. Since Al Avila announced that he wants a team that is leaner and faster, the 2017 Tigers could look different. K-Rod is entering 2017 with a $6 million team option and a $2 million buy-out. Other closers make more. Zach Britton, with a 0.0 WAR, has a $6.7 million contract. Aroldis Chapman, with a 1.1 WAR, has an $11 million contract. And, Wade Davis made $8 million in 2016 with his 0.0 WAR.
Next: If Frankie Rodriguez is Traded...
While he may not be the youngest pitcher in the MLB, his numbers were satisfactory. He was better than any other closing pitcher who walked out of the Detroit Tigers bullpen in recent history (even Todd Jones, who had an 86% save percentage and a WAR of 0.4 in 2006).