Eric O’Flaherty (by sansho1)

Eric O’Flaherty in 2012 continued his reign as one of the best setup relievers in the NL, eventually being promoted to 8th-inning guy once it became clear that Jonny Venters wasn’t his usual dominant self. How good has the unassuming EOF been over the last four seasons? Here are baseball-reference rankings of NL relievers who have pitched in the NL in each season from 2009-2012, and accumulated at least 200 total appearances in that time:

Huston Street 6.755
Eric O’Flaherty 6.697
Sergio Romo 6.642

Sean Marshall 7.1
Rafael Betancourt 6.4
Tyler Clippard 6.4
Eric O’Flaherty 6.2
Sergio Romo 5.7

Eric O’Flaherty 1.95
Sergio Romo 2.21
Jeremy Affeldt 2.73

O’Flaherty succeeds despite the lack of an overpowering fastball (which hovers at 91) by delivering the ball consistently at knee-to-shin level, inducing a lot of GBs and very few XBHs. He took worm-burning to new…umm…heights in 2012, getting an even three groundball outs for every flyout, versus a league average of 1.16 GO/AO. The average NL player getting 550 PAs against Braves-era O’Flaherty would tally just 17 doubles and 5 HRs.

After arriving in Atlanta as a three-pitch pitcher (fastball, slider, changeup), EOF since 2011 has nearly ditched the change, throwing about 40 of them in 2011, and around 30 this season. He more or less has his approach down to a science, and he’s quietly but firmly attained a comfort level with his role that few non-closers enjoy. I look forward to taking him for granted again in 2013.

22 thoughts on “Eric O’Flaherty (by sansho1)”

  1. It hasn’t been discussed that much, but O’Flaherty was Venters of the early going as he was the subject of the “he’s just not right” talk a (of which, I am sure I was apart of). On May 2nd, O’Flaherty had an ERA of 7.56 after 8.1 innings. For the rest of the season, O’Flaherty had a 0.73 ERA. This dude is an unreal reliever with what sounds like an incredible work ethic. I also look forward to taking Eric for granted.

  2. I dont believe Wren would get enough value for Venters unless someone considers him a potential closer. Id keep all 3.

  3. Venters is cheap, still has value even at his current level, and durable – unless part of a larger package for LF/3B/CF, I can’t see why you wouldn’t keep him.

  4. Thanks, sansho1. I like having three very good lefties in the pen. It would be nice to have a couple of blow-you-away power righthanders to complement the Best Closer in Baseball and turn the Braves’ games into six inning contests.

  5. Is there any chance that Marek will be in Spring Training? Dont know anything about his velocity, but seems to have good command. Or did.

  6. Other than subscribing to DirecTV’s Américas Plus package, is there any way to watch the Caribbean leagues this fall/winter? Such a short season.

  7. Don’t think Stephen Marek was traded. The Braves just dumped him after the 2011 season, and the Blue Jays signed him.

  8. You could call the above charts a bit of a cheat, as there are other relievers with better overall numbers in the time frame (Kimbrel, duh, plus Javier Lopez and a couple others), but the pitchers listed are those, along with EOF, who have been active, healthy, and effective for the entirety of 2009-2012. The BBRef Play Index can be manipulated in any number of ways to make your guy rise to the top — but rather than think of that as cheating, I prefer to think of it as illuminating the unique nature of each player’s contribution.

  9. Someone was asking about where to watch winter league. You can watch a legal stream of most of the Venezuelan league games here:

    But the quality is extremely poor. Once the playoffs start they should be on ESPN Deportes, and there should be plenty of high quality streams.

    Also, our man Gattis left the yard again tonight, a solo shot to put Zulia up 1-0. According to a DOB tweet:

    “I’m told his teammates there call him “White Bear.””

    I’m trying to remember the last player I wanted to see in a Braves uniform as badly as I want to see the White Bear. Drawing a blank.

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