The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season. This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason. More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter. Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.
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Player: Seth Maness
Season stats: 6-4, 3 SV, 2.91 ERA, 73 games, 80.1 IP, 77 H, 11 BB, 55 K, 1.095 WHIP, 126 ERA+
Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 5
Overall grade: A
Positives: Was plain nasty against right-handers, limiting them to a .232 average and putting up a K/BB ratio of 10.75….very strong at home, keeping hitters to a .565 OPS under the Arch….was not charged with a run in six postseason games (5.2 innings).
Negatives: Got out of the gate slowly, putting up a 4.09 ERA in April that had folks wondering if the league had caught up with him….lefties hit him for a .314 average and a .852 OPS….induced four less double plays in 68 more plate appearances in 2014.
Overview: When Maness started the year so slowly, it was a legitimate concern to ask if he was a one-hit wonder. While he might not have been quite as able to turn one pitch into two outs in the most reason season, the rest of his statistics prove that if he’s got a window on being successful in the big leagues, it’s still got some time before it completely closes.
Save for a hiccup in July, every other month after April saw Maness put up an ERA of 2.31 or less. While reliever ERA isn’t necessarily as telling of a stat as starter ERA, given the inherited runner issue, it’s still a nice thing to see. Maness isn’t necessarily a power pitcher, though he can garner a strikeout when needed, but he was able to keep from walking hitters which is a huge benefit when you are coming into a game with runners already on, which he did often.
He did his best work in high leverage situations (.632 OPS against) and doesn’t fear the spotlight. Once we got past that whole ugly start to the season, there were few fans that cringed when Matheny went to the mound to bring Maness into the contest. If there was anything to note in his usage, it’s probably that he doesn’t need to come in on back-to-back days (.742 OPS with zero days’ rest).
Outlook: Maness is young and under club contract, plus he’s pretty darn good. We’ll see if the club wants to give him a little bit of a raise (more than the legal minimum, at least) and if they’ll look to him for a longer contract, though I expect given the fluctuation year-to-year among relievers that they’ll probably just sign him to one-year contracts. Whatever the case, it would appear that the bullpen will be better off with Maness in it next season.