What Should the St. Louis Cardinals Expect of Edward Mujica This Season?

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

After the Cardinals acquired Edward Mujica from the Miami Marlins at last season's trade deadline, the righthander was instrumental in stabilizing the bullpen. Will he be as effective in 2013?

At the 2012 trade deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals traded former first-round draft pick Zack Cox to the Miami Marlins for righthanded reliever Edward Mujica. If you were like me, the trade left you wondering, "Who is Edward Mujica?" So I did what any baseball fan with an internet connect would do. I looked Mujica up on Fangraphs. What I found left me wondering why the Cardinals acquired him.

Mujica's 2012 season with the Marlins was less than stellar. In 39 innings pitched with Miami, Mujica had tuned in a below-average performance. The "minus" pitching stats weight a pitcher's ERA and fielding-independent metrics by park effects and then scale them to 100. Greater than 100 is worse than average, less than 100 is better than average, and 100 is average. Mujica had posted a 111 ERA- with the Marlins, 116 FIP-, and 105 xFIP-. Here is how Mujica's Marlins stats compared to the MLB reliever average for the 2012 season.

MUICA 2012 STATS WITH MIAMI vs. 2012 MLB RELIEVER AVERAGE

‘12 MIA

BABIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

LOB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

Mujica

.252

6.00

2.08

1.38

66.5%

4.38

4.51

4.10

MLB RP

.291

8.37

3.46

0.89

74.5%

3.67

3.79

3.92


Despite his performance as a Marlin, with the Cardinals, Mujica was a revelation. His ERA- was 27, FIP- 62, and xFIP- 79. He increased his strikeout rate, halved his BB/9, and cut way down on homers allowed. The result was an excellent statistical line that is as impressive as it is unsustainable.

MUJICA 2012 STATS WITH ST. LOUIS vs. 2012 MLB RELIEVER AVERAGE

‘12 STL

BABIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

LOB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

Mujica

.264

7.18

1.03

0.34

92.6%

1.03

2.34

3.07

MLB RP

.291

8.37

3.46

0.89

74.5%

3.67

3.79

3.92


The difference between Mujica's 2012 numbers with the Marlins and Cardinals can be largely attributed to the fact that he allowed significantly less home runs and stranded significantly more baserunners. When combining the entirety of Mujica's 2012 body of work, we get an idea of how Mujica wasn't likely to continue pitching as poorly as he did for the Marlins and is even more unlikely to post anything remotely close to his 2012 numbers with el Birdos.

MUJICA'S 2012 SPLITS vs. MUJICA'S CAREER STATS

Split

BABIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

LOB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

‘12 MIA

.252

6.00

2.08

1.38

66.5%

4.38

4.51

4.10

‘12 STL

.264

7.18

1.03

0.34

92.6%

1.03

2.34

3.07

2012

.257

6.47

1.65

0.96

76.0%

3.03

3.65

3.69

Career

.290

7.30

1.51

1.23

72.0%

3.92

3.78

3.64


As you can see, Mujica is a good bet to see his Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) go up, his LOB% go down, and his home run rate go up. This means he will be more painful to watch for Cardinals fans. How much more painful? Well, that depends. The projection forecasts are all pretty close in their estimates.

2013 PROJECTIONS FOR MUJICA

Pitcher

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

BABIP

LOB%

ERA

FIP

Steamer

53.0

6.91

2.38

0.83

.289

74.6%

3.38

3.57

Bill James

72.0

7.50

1.63

1.13

.296

-

3.13

3.57

Oliver

69.0

7.19

1.70

0.92

.276

78.2%

2.88

3.41

ZiPS

67.0

7.39

1.61

1.07

.291

73.7%

3.49

3.52

Average

66

7.30

1.75

1.01

.288

75.5%

3.33

3.52


Mujica will very likely not be as good as he was last season for the Cardinals. In point of fact, he's a good bet to be quite a bit worse. There will be more hits allows. Some of those hits will be dingers, and there will be more of that subset, too. More of the ducks Mujica allows on the pond are likely to cross the plate, too. All of this is likely to combine to make him a a slightly better-than-average reliever. While that level of performance is quite a bit worse than what he soared to last season for St. Louis, it will still be nice to have coming out of the bullpen.

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