Year In Review: Ryan Madson – Phillies Nation
2010 Player Reviews

Year In Review: Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson was really, really good in 2010.

There may have been more graceful ways to start this homage to the Mad Dog’s 2010 campaign, but none seem quite as necessarily to-the-point. It’s a reflection on the seven-year pro’s promotion from “pretty good” to “elite,” a sudden transition that we probably could have seen coming.

Still, it was a pleasant surprise. Madson, who had ERAs of 3.05 (twice) and 3.26 in the last three seasons, posted or equaled career-bests in H/9, K/9, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9 and K:BB. A rather ridiculous foot injury – sustained in a moment of frustration, kicking a chair following his appearance in a wild game in San Francisco – forced him to miss a big chunk of the season and limited his total workload to 53 innings, a career-low.

In the nine games Madson appeared in prior to the injury, things hadn’t gone so well. The strikeouts were there, but the hits (and runs) were pouring in. A 7.00 ERA was left to linger for more than two months, and that, apparently, didn’t sit very well with Madson. In the 44 innings he threw after his return from the DL, Madson’s line looked like this:

44.0 IP, 54 K, 10 BB, 1.64 ERA, with a .182/.249/.245 opponents’ batting line.

In those 46 appearances, opponents recorded earned runs on Madson just six times, and only twice in 35 August/September appearances. Paired with a buoyed Brad Lidge late in the season, Madson was almost untouchable. For comparison’s sake, stacked up against the rest of the league, here’s where some of Madson’s numbers rank among relievers with at least 50 IP last season:

  • 14th in K/9 (10.87)
  • 17th-lowest BB/9 (2.21)
  • 8th in K:BB (4.92)
  • 18th in WHIP (1.038)
  • 13th in xFIP (2.89)
  • The 10th most-effective changeup, according to Fangraphs. BaseballAnalytics has opponents hitting just .161/.199/.257 against it in 2010.

He may not be Mariano Rivera or Billy Wagner, but all of those ranks place him in the upper echelon of relievers for 2010. Madson’s contract expires after the 2011 season, and he’ll certainly be due for a raise. His magnificent 2010, though abbreviated, played a huge part in that. Injuries and a sluggish start to the year, paired with a regrettable injury, are the only things weighing this grade down.

GRADE: 8.6/10

MICHAEL BAUMANN’S GRADE: 8.3/10 – Just like missing 4 or more classes in a semester, breaking your foot on a chair in the middle of the season drops you a full letter grade. Outside of that, he was nothing short of spectacular.



  1. GoPhils

    December 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Ryan Madson was very good last year. I hope we can lock him up here. His stuff is better than that of Lidge, as he has a 96 mph fastball and a wicked changeup. He needs to control his temper. The Phils actually ended up winning the game during which he hurt his foot. Hopefully DeFratus can follow in his footsteps as a tall, righthanded, hard-throwing homegrown relief pitcher.

  2. tavian

    December 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Madson is an elite relief relief pitcher who will be pitching for a new, more-lucrative contract next year. I expect him to have an outstanding year and possibly graduate into the closer’s role. Hopefully he will stay healthy and not be overworked because of a potentially weak bullpen in 2011.

  3. Pat Gallen

    December 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I didn’t put my grade on it, but if I had I’d give him a solid 9.

    No one wants to lose their best pitcher for a better part of the season, but it may have actually HELPED. In the end, his arm was indestructible because of the rest he received. If he hadn’t been injured, and had pitched the entire year, would he have been as explosive out of the pen late in the year? Manuel wouldn’t have used him the way he did if he didn’t have such a fresh arm.

    So in a way, the injury may have helped the Phillies. As weird as that sounds.

    • Lefty

      December 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm

      Interesting what you said about Charlie’s usage of Ryan. I sure hope you are right because I thought he was riding him way too often near seasons end. To Madson’s credit he kept coming through, but I worry Charlie would do that all year if he could. I love the old man, but he does tend to get set in his ways.

  4. Jay aka Phillyboy

    December 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I love mad dog in the 8th inning role,but i really don’t know if he can handle the 9th inning.We know he has great stuff,but mentally the 9th inning is in his head for some reason!!!! For this year i give him a solid 9.255555555555!!!!!!


    December 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I don’t think Madson is a 9th inning pitcher at all. Just look at his stats. What I don’t understand is, he is awesome in the 8th, why not just leave him there as one of if not the premier set up man in the game. While we have no idea which Brad Lidge we will have in 2011, at least we know we can get to the 9th inning. If closing becomes a problem, deal with it another way. Leave Madson out of the equation.

  6. Paul Boye

    December 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    The problem I have with that line of thinking is that no inning is different from any other, when you think about it. A one-run lead is the same in both the 8th and 9th, and in fact can be even more precarious if the middle of the order comes up in the 8th and the bottom of the order in the 9th.

    Really, Madson not being a “closer” or “9th inning pitcher” is a mythical stigma. You plug him in that role for a full season and he’d do it as well as anybody in the game, he just has never had that chance. The only intangibles the 9th inning has over the 8th are ones we imagine.

    • Pat Gallen

      December 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      I agree. It’s not that he can’t do it, it’s just some mental hurdle he has to overcome that it’s the 9th inning.

      Plus, the Phillies can’t pay a set up man $6-7 million per season, then pay for a closer on top of that at $8 million. At least not right now they can’t.

  7. Ted Bell

    December 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I would think that Madson will be the Phillies’ 2012 closer unless Scott Boras talks him in to testing the open market.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  8. betasigmadeltashag

    December 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I think Madson did an above average job this year, in the end of the year he was pretty much automatic. I think this year you may see him get a few more chances at closing games out, just because I do not see Brad pitching 3-4 days in a row, and Charlie is going to have to look at it that way. With his past struggles in the 9th inning I am not sure any team will sign him as a closer after next year. I have to agree it is a mental thing for Mad dog. That is why I think you put him out there 8-10 times this year to give Brad a rest, and with the starting rotation, you may not need an 8th inning guy that much. To me Ryan looked like a different pitcher in the post season, his body language and determination seemed like he was just different, so maybe this is the year he proves he can close. And if you do not pick up Lidge’s contract give some of that money to Madson, or you never know some young arm may prove to be the closer of the future

  9. Ryan Sommers

    December 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    “Just look at his stats”


    Madson in 2008:

    8th inning: 31.2 IP, 24 K, 7 BB, 3.41 ERA (3.25 xFIP)
    9th inning: 9.1 IP, 7K, 1 BB, 1.93 ERA (3.80 xFIP)

    Madson in 2009:

    8th inning: 48.1 IP, 47 K, 15 BB, 3.54 ERA (3.20 xFIP)
    9th inning: 23.1 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, 3.47 ERA (2.91 xFIP)

    Madson in 2010:

    8th inning: 29.2 IP, 32 K, 7 BB, 1.52 ERA (2.67 xFIP)
    9th inning: 18.1 IP, 25 K, 5 BB, 4.42 ERA (2.31 xFIP)

    Note that the 9th inning ERA in 2010 came with a .356 BABIP, compared to a .225 BABIP in the 8th inning. If there is a 9th inning “problem” here I don’t see it.

  10. Greg

    December 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Wow. That was enlightening, Ryan Sommers.

    I had always believed the hype that he can’t do it, but BABIP is essentially luck-based. With that perspective, I guarantee given a full year he could put up about a 2.8-3.4 ERA and have maybe 4-6 BS and 30+ Saves.

    I recall Madson telling Boras that he wanted to stay with Philly during his first contract year, and he made it work out. I see no reason he’d want to leave now. Hopefully he’ll take a pay-cut for his team.

  11. Phylan

    December 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Yeah, I mean, given some of the high profile blown saves he’s had, I can sort of understand how the notion got started. It’s just crazy to me that it’s become a question of his makeup, since the guy regularly faces higher leverage situations in other innings than the average 9th inning save opportunity. Madson faced 98 batters in what could be termed “high leverage” situations last year, and they hit .187/.237/.242 off of him, with 34 strikeouts and 4 walks. That’s 8.5 K/BB. Even if you look at saves, if you check the game logs and look at save opportunities he had in the 9th inning only, he also has a pretty good percentage. I think I lost that info but I’ll try and look it back up.

  12. psujoe

    December 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Madson will most like test the free agent market if his season is close to his 2010 season. At least the Phils will have some $$$ next year. Any word on a lefty specialist?

  13. Greg

    December 23, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Lol. This is completely random, but I just realized that Cliff Lee is a career .308 hitter in the PostSeason. lmao.

  14. Chuck

    December 23, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Pat, I was thinking the very same thing about the foot injury actually HELPING him. He sucked before the injury and really had a lot of time to mentally get his head straight. He admitted it was stupid, apologized, and moved on. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a HUGE year for him this season….and I agree that he could do the closer role if just given the chance from the beginning….. 2012???

  15. Lefty

    December 23, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I’m against moving Ryan to the closer role. It’s very hard to argue against Phylan’s stats, but when actually watching Madson pitch the ninth,- I don’t know maybe it’s his body language or something. He doesn’t grab you with an air of confidence like the real good closers. In the old days- Bedrosian, Hrabosky, Lyle, and Eck- and more recently Mariano, Hoffman etc. – those guys just oozed confidence, they knew they were going to mow you down.

    But in the 8th he looks extremely comfortable and positive. I haven’t read anything saying he aspires to be a closer, so if he’s happy in the role of holder, I think you leave him there. If anyone knows or can share a link where he indicates he wants to be the closer, please enlighten me. Obviously if he does, you have to give him that chance if you want him to re-up with us.

  16. Chuck

    December 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Maybe if he wasn’t in Lidge’s shadow….you know….he KNEW he was the guy…. right from the beginning….maybe that alone would give him that confidence. That’s why I’m thinking 2012.

  17. Paul Boye

    December 23, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I have a feeling you view him as uncomfortable in the 9th because you yourself are unaccustomed to his being there. Give Madson the chances, and I’m sure he’ll put you at ease.

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