Exit Interview: Seung-hwan Oh

For the fifth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.   Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure.  Our focus this time is STL CardGals.  Laura and Holly recap most every series and usually bring a very positive approach to whatever is going on with the Birds.  Find them on iTunes and check out their website for some totally biased baseball.

Player: Seung-hwan Oh

Season stats: 6-3, 19 SV, 1.92 ERA, 76 games, 79.2 IP, 55 H, 18 BB, 103 K, 0.916 WHIP, 2.13 FIP, 2.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 4

Overall grade: A

Positives: Was the rock in a sometimes shaky bullpen….blew only three saves and had a 2.16 ERA after being named the closer….limited batters to a .190/.241/.269 mark….lefties hit .176 against him, righties .201….was even better away from Busch, with 10 saves and a 1.31 ERA….allowed just a .438 OPS in the first half….had a 0.73 ERA in June….struck out at least 16 batters in every month but one….batters who took the first pitch wound up with a .492 OPS….the first batter he faced hit .136….batters hit .194 with nobody out in the inning against him….hitters went .183/.263/.296 against him with runners in scoring position….allowed two runs in 16 innings combined against the Brewers and Pirates.

Negatives: Struggled immediately after taking on the closer role, allowing runs in two of his first four outings….had a 2.36 ERA in the second half….the .764 OPS allowed in September was 250 points higher than any other month….also had a 3.38 ERA in September, easily his highest monthly mark….allowed a .518 OPS with two outs, higher than either one out or no outs….in seven PA with the bases loaded, batters hit .333/.429/.500 with one walk….had a .243/.313/.330 line in high leverage situations, higher than his normal marks….had a 1.80 ERA in the eighth but 2.52 ERA in the ninth….had a 3.97 ERA on four or more days’ rest….had a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings against the Cubs (but 13 strikeouts).

Overview: When the Cardinals went overseas and brought in Oh, most folks didn’t quite know what to expect.  They knew the nicknames (Stone Buddha, Final Boss) and saw the stats, but how would that translate to America?  It was the first Asian player signed since So Taguchi and while everyone loved So, saying he was an integral part of any team was an overstatement.

Oh, fittingly given his stoic demeanor, just calmly went and started getting outs.  Even when Trevor Rosenthal was destroying a lot of his good work, there was never any change in his approach or attitude, at least outwardly.  Getting the call to take over the ninth inning didn’t seem to rattle him either, even though he hit a few road bumps early on.  September was a little worrisome, as he allowed runs in four of the 10 outings, but this was a higher inning load than he’d had in 10 years, so we’ll chalk that up to fatigue and go on.  All in all, if the Cardinals had made the playoffs, it probably would have been because Oh saved their season.

Outlook: Oh comes to camp as the closer next spring and there would seem to be little reason to think he won’t keep it all year long.  What happens after that, we’ll have to wait and see, but hopefully we won’t be dealing with the ninth inning angst in 2017.

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