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.
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.