Will Ohman vs Dennys Reyes - a missed opportunity?

Hey guys, long-time lurker, short time contributor, first fanpost... Go easy...


I note today that Will Ohman, he of the triumvirate of until-recently unsigned quality LHRP on the market (the others being Joe Beimel, who signed for the Nats for ~$2m, and Dennys Reyes, who we picked up for two years and $3m), has just signed on with the Dodgers.

At the time of the Reyes signing, I was broadly in favour of us adding another lefty (not 100% convinced with Miller as more than a decent LOOGY and the rest of the scrapheap guys, even my favourite hobbyhorse Ian Ostlund looked, to be blunt, awful), but I'd have liked to have seen Ohman as the target.  That said, the Reyes deal looked good - we'd picked up a solid, quality lefty with a good recent record for two years for what seemed considerably less than the ~$3m we thought might take to get Ohman.

However, Ohman's deal with the Dodgers is of the MINOR league flavour, and will be worth about $1.5m (what we're paying Reyes per year, but only on the hook for one year, and with nada owed if he breaks down injured and doesn't make the team) if Ohman makes the team and hits his incentives (which, realistically, is a foregone conclusion if he stays fit).

So, I'd like to compare the deals by taking a closer look at the players.

Ohman's 32 this year and has put up FIPs of 3.17, 3.87 and 3.9 the last three years (most recent first) in 160 IP (small-ish sample size). 

He averages a K per inning, but walks about 4 per 9 (although that dropped last year to a little over 3).  He's exclusively a fastball/slider pitcher with not especially overpowering stuff that works best against lefties but has been reasonable against righties.

Reyes is also 32 this year and has put up FIPs of 3.67, 4.60 and 2.87 the last three years (most recent first) in 120 IP.

He averages a little under a K per inning, and walks nearly 5 per 9 (although that was good last year at less than 3; seems he's a bit inconsistent and has put up some great years along with some where he's badly struggled with walks.  I'm hypothesising this might be to do with facing a larger number of RHB).  He too is a fastball/slider guy with so-so stuff but relies more on his deceptive slider than Ohman (throws it ~40% of the time).

So far it's hard to separate them; Ohman's trending in the right direction, and probably has a slight advantage in K/BB rate.  He's also pitched a few more innings and been more consistent, but to counter that, Reyes has played in a tougher league (although realistically a LOOGY in the NL is unlikely to ever pitch to another pitcher, which more or less negates that aspect).  Reyes also has the advantage in groundball creation - he's consistently posted >50% GB rates the last few years, touching the 60%s at times, whilst Ohman is more reliant on his outfield, only posting about 40% GB rates; this probably negates a bit of Ohman's advantage in Ks and BBs.  Given our ballpark and defensive alignment this year, I'm not sure if the GB/FB split is hugely relevant, however.

Now, a quick digression - my main reason for preferring Ohman over Reyes was that, even though both are decent pitchers, that Ohman is at least respectable against righties, as well as being a bit more durable.  If we signed him, we could use him more frequently in high-leverage situations (and perhaps move K-Mac to the rotation, giving us more depth) because you'd not be afraid of giving him the odd AB vs RHB.  But do the numbers bear that out?

For the last three years, the splits (purely in terms of OBP, or rather, how successful the two pitchers are at retiring opposition batters) are as follows; percentages in parentheses are the % of total ABs against RHB or LHB):

Ohman vs RHB:     387 ABs      (55%)      0.348 OBP

Ohman vs LHB:     315 ABs       (45%)     0.283 OBP

Reyes vs RHB:       242 ABs      (45%)      0.372 OBP

Reyes vs LHB:       279 ABs      (55%)      0.269 OBP

So there you have it.  Ohman's probably a bit more durable and has thrown to more ABs but has pitched about the same number of ABs/IP as Reyes (so, for example, Reyes isn't being heavily protected against certain hitters or pitching more one-out (LOOGY) games, although he IS being used more judiciously against LH matchups).  Ohman is a bit better against RHB than Reyes, so as you'd expect he's thrown to a few more of them than Reyes has.  This probably makes him marginally more usefull in bullpen matchups and in terms of "spreading the innings around" effectively as he's more flexible; you'd be more ready to throw him the ball with a LHB/RHB/RHB combination coming up and leave him in for the whole inning, for instance, putting less stress on your bullpen.  HOWEVER, Reyes is probably better than Ohman as a pure LOOGY.

All that said, these sample sizes are pretty small.  The difference in OBP for both pitchers is not that great - it probably demonstrates that Ohman is a bit more of a "left-handed reliever" and Reyes is a bit more of a "LOOGY" but perhaps it's barely significant.

So, in summary, I think I'd still have preferered Ohman, but it's hard to say we made a mistake picking up Dennys instead.  Both guys figure to be worth 0.5-1 win next year, making both contracts excellent value.  Ohman wins by a notch, given that his contract is a bit lower and for one less year, though you could argue that LA is a more attractive prospect for a lot of ballplayers than St Louis, so we might've had to offer a better deal than the one he ultimately signed for.  But, in the end, I'm pretty satisfied that Reyes was a good pickup.


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