Antonio Bastardo has been pretty popular lately, to say the least.
When I went on to RotoWorld.com this morning, I saw that, over the past seven days, he was the 10th-most highly searched player in baseball.
Since I was on RotoWorld.com, most of these questions probably related to how much value he has for a fantasy team.
That led me to wonder, "Why do people doubt his value so much?"
Why can't they just look at the raw numbers that he has been producing?
Or, are people looking at his numbers because they are intrigued from him coming out of nowhere?
Most of them are probably there because when he came up last year, he appeared in 25 games, posted an ERA of 4.34, and allowed right-handers to hit .300 against him.
Not quite stellar.
For the sabermetrics believers out there, according to the FanGraphs method of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), he was at 0.3. Anything under zero essentially means that that player is replaceable by any average Major League Baseball player.
He is already at 0.6 this season.
Since it is cumulative, what this is essentially saying is that he has already provided the Phillies with twice as many wins as last season.
Part of this is because he has pitched more innings, but he has also been really hot this year—he has allowed just three earned runs in 30 innings and ha an ERA of 0.90.
This is why so many people doubt Bastardo and feel the need to research him. They wonder if this type production is sustainable or if is this just a flash in the pan.
One important statistic to look at is how he is handling right-handed batters.
There are many more right-handed batters than left handed batters in Major League Baseball, and if a pitcher is going to be successful in either the closer or setup role (as opposed to just being a specialist), he needs to be able to handle right-handed hitting.
This season, right-handers are batting .111 against Bastardo.
Another important stat for relief pitchers is how many runners they strand on base.
Bastardo has stranded an amazing 99.1 percent of runners on base. This is the second-highest among all relievers in baseball behind only Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals.
If Bastardo is able to sustain his current level of play, it would simply be amazing—almost impossible.
However, to put this numbers in perspective, last season only two pitchers in all of Major League Baseball stranded over 90 percent of runners.
The same was true in 2009.
Antonio Bastardo is having an amazing year so far.
I don't think that anybody can criticize his current performance, but it seems as if people are questioning whether or not he can sustain it.
In my book, the raw numbers tell me that Bastardo is indeed having an excellent year, and the Phillies have benefited greatly from his success in what has been an injury-plagued bullpen.
While he might not be able to perfectly sustain every statistic, I predict that he will finish off this great start with continued success.