Key Stats: Joakim Soria was a dominant pitcher for the third straight season last year. Despite the hard work behind the site dedicated to making seemingly one of every five articles about Soria, the word still isn’t out there about just how good this guy is. The reason for that is probably because he has averaged under 30 saves a season playing for a terrible team, but let’s ignore that. Just look at the numbers year in and year out. The ERA hasn’t gone above 2.50 in his career. The strikeouts per 9 innings is at 10 for his career. And his career worst WHIP is 1.13.
Skeptics Say: Soria was essentially hurt for six weeks last season with a shoulder issue and while the numbers indicate that he bounced back just fine after he returned in May, you always have to wonder about a recurrence.
Peer Comparison: Before addressing the pitchers on this list, I wanted to make one small point about the concept of perceived injury risk with pitchers versus hitters. It was discussed a couple days ago with Ubaldo Jimenez on FBHS, but I also want to use the same example with a reliever in this case. In searching to see where Soria was going on Mock Draft Central, the term “Soria” first retrieved Alfonso Soriano’s name at pick number 71. Soria has been ranked in Yahoo’s top 110 each of the last 3 seasons and is going to be turning 26 this season. Soriano wasn’t ranked in the top 300 is going to be 33. If you can give a good enough reason as to why Soriano will bounce back then fine. Don’t claim that Soria is the riskier option when Soriano is older, trending downward, and spent time on the DL in the more recent past.
In terms of Soria versus the field among the relievers, the numbers tell the story of disrespect as mentioned in key stats. This guy is going to go 20 picks after the first reliever is taken and could well be better than whoever that first reliever taken is. Here’s what I mean:
Soria – 2.74 FIP 11.72 K/9 4.31 K:BB
Jonathan Papelbon – 3.05 FIP 10.06 K/9 3.17 K:BB
Joe Nathan – 2.88 FIP 11.67 K/9 4.05 K:BB
Mariano Rivera – 2.89 FIP 9.77 K/9 6 K:BB
Francisco Rodriguez – 4.01 FIP 9.66 K/9 1.92 K:BB
Soria is tops in every category among these players except K:BB where he is only topped by Rivera. Yet all four of them are going at least 15 picks ahead on Mock Draft Central.
Team Outlook: The lineup isn’t exactly loaded, but the Royals might not be that bad of a team. Zack Greinke gives them a good chance to win every 5th game, and for people concerned about draft Soria in this spot because he won’t get opportunities you are more clueless than Cher. Soria had 45 save opportunities for a 75 win team two years ago and 33 opportunities despite missing a month of action on a 65 win team last season.
Projection: Don’t shy away from him because he’s a reliever and that’s not a position you fill until later. If only Soriano types are available, he’s the safest bet to help your team.
37 saves 3 wins 2.15 ERA 1.11 WHIP 70K in 66 innings
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