Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ollie's Fair In Love And War

Oliver Perez might have been pitching to save face and his job this afternoon when he took the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals. After tossing two scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits and did not walk a batter, Ollie appears to be safe for now. Of course, he faced mostly minor league hitters dressed in Cardinals jerseys, but who are we to quibble?

Actually, we've quibbled quite a bit over the past two seasons about Oliver Perez. We've asked for his unconditional release, we've asked him to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Saucier and retire while he's still in his 20s, and we've outed him for having a child as a bodyguard. Still, there was a time when Oliver Perez wasn't so despised.

We won't go so far as to say that Ollie was beloved at Shea Stadium, but from the 2006 NLCS through the Shea Goodbye ceremony in 2008 (El Perez-idente started that final game at Shea and pitched far better than Tom Glavine did in the previous season's finale), Perez wasn't all that bad. He certainly wasn't the vilified pariah he has become since the Mets loaded up their moving van and traveled across the parking lot to Citi Field. Of course, Ollie wasn't making anywhere near $12 million between 2006 and 2008, so perhaps that has something to do with the fans' vitriol towards him.

If you're too young or choose to forget that Oliver Perez was actually a serviceable pitcher at one time, perhaps this will remind you:

Even Oliver Perez seems shocked that he was actually a good pitcher once. Once.

  • In 2007 and 2008, Ollie went 25-17 for the Mets. In the team's 49-year history, only 38 pitchers have won at least 25 games over their entire Mets career. Ollie was able to reach that total in only two seasons.
  • Out of all the pitchers in franchise history who have been on the mound for at least 500 innings, only 20 of them finished with a career winning percentage of .500 or better. One of them is Oliver Perez, whose 29-29 win-loss record as a Met ties him with Jesse Orosco (47-47) for 20th place. Ollie's career winning percentage in New York is higher than Gary Gentry (.494), Tug McGraw (.461) and Nolan Ryan (.433) and only slightly lower than franchise legends Jerry Koosman (.505) and Jon Matlack (.503).
  • Oliver Perez might have walked a batter or twelve over his Mets career, but hitters still have a tough time against him when they put the ball in play. In 4½ seasons as a Met, Ollie has allowed 8.38 hits per nine innings. That puts him 17th on the Mets' all-time list for fewest H/9IP, ahead of notable pitchers such as Bret Saberhagen, Rick Reed, Frank Viola and the non-devastated Tom Glavine.
  • In less than five seasons, Ollie is 20th on the Mets' all-time list with 494 strikeouts. That puts him ahead of Nolan Ryan (493), Pedro Martinez (464) and Bob Ojeda (459). Ollie is also third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.55), behind only David Cone (8.72) and Nolan Ryan (8.70). It's true. Ollie ranks higher than Tom Seaver or Dwight Gooden, the two pitchers who are generally considered to be the best in franchise history.

To even things out, Oliver Perez is 17th on the franchise's all-time list for home runs allowed. He also ranks 17th in most walks allowed and 10th in hit batsmen, all of which are negative categories. However, from the list above, it's clear that Ollie has done quite well for himself in a number of positive pitching categories.

So what does this say about the Mets? For a team that has prided itself on having great pitchers over the years, does this mean that the well has run dry? How can a team that featured rotations of Seaver, Koosman and Matlack in the '70s and Gooden, Darling, Ojeda and Fernandez in the '80s have Oliver Perez finding his way into the club's all-time leaderboard?

Perhaps the Mets have had lack of pitching talent over the past 20 years. Perhaps the good pitchers never stay in New York for very long. Or perhaps Oliver Perez was actually not as bad as the guy everyone wants to run out of town for just breathing near Citi Field. One thing's for sure. Oliver Perez is still a Met. He might be here all year. If he is, that all-time Mets leaderboard might have another Ollie or two the next time we check it.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I have to say that when i read where you were saying that Ollie is actually ranked on mets top 20 lists, I got a little scared. That is not a sign of how good he has been, but it is more a sign of how bad we have been as a franchise at developing quality arms and keeping/acquiring them. We have been around for almost 50 years and have given up way to quickly on franchise arms. part of the reason why I wanna keep Jose so bad is so that we can finally have some lifelong mets, watch them grow and when they finally reach that goal of a WS title it will be that much more gratifying.

If Ollie could learn to throw strikes again he could pitch like he did in 2007 winning 15 games, but we say that every year and it will never happen again. I don't even know if Dave Duncan can save him now