30 Tigers in 30 Days – #26: Jose Valverde

2011: 2-4, 49 saves, 2.24 ERA, 34 BB, 69 K in 72.1 IP
Career: 23-27, 242 saves, 3.02 ERA, 221 BB, 602 K in 521.1 IP

2012 Projections

Bill James: 5-3, 42 saves, 3.04 ERA, 37 BB, 83 K in 77 IP
ZiPS: 3-2, 3.55 ERA, 29 BB, 56 K in 58.1 IP
RotoChamp: 3-3, 35 saves, 3.30 ERA, 28 BB, 59 K in 60 IP

Expected Role: Closer, designated dancer

How lucky was Jose Valverde in 2011? His BABIP was actually higher than in 2010, but still freakishly low at .247. Valverde has been able to maintain a pretty low BABIP throughout his career, but even for him .247 is a bit low. There will almost certainly be some regression on Valverde’s part this year, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t remain a very good closer. There’s no use citing his 3.55 FIP, because Valverde has outperformed his FIP in every year but one. It appears to be an ongoing thing.

Valverde’s strikeouts went down last year, which can probably be attributed to his increased reliance on a two-seam fastball instead of the splitter he became so well known for. His ground ball rate wasn’t as freakishly high as 2010, but he’s still getting a fair amount of grounders and keeping everything in the park. It’s worked for him. Don’t expect a repeat of 2011 by any means, but Valverde will remain reliable and will get the job done more often than not.

Next: Alex Avila

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