Do you want to play a game?
In classic Rob Neyer style, let’s do a little Player A vs Player B
Both performances are from relief pitchers prior to their 29th birthday. Both players had pretty uninspiring starts to their careers, bouncing between the majors and minors. But player B had a pretty clear advantage with the exception that he walked a couple more batters.
Player A is former Tiger lefty Jamie Walker. Walker was signed as a minor league free agent by Detroit after toiling in the minors for 3 years following his age 26 season. Walker of course went on to be a mainstay in the Tigers bullpen before heading to Baltimore and he’s one of the arms the Tigers are probably missing this year.
Player B is current Tiger lefty Bobby Seay. Seay was signed by the Tigers as a minor league free agent prior to the 2006 season after several short stints in the majors. The most recent having come in Colorado where he surrendered 11 runs in 11 2/3 innings on 3 homers.
Seay is going to be called on to help fill the void left by the departure of Walker and the injury to Joel Zumaya. So far this year he has been up to the task allowing only 6 baserunners in 9 2/3 innings. He has a decent career strikeout rate and has done a decent job keeping the ball in the park. Plus he halved his walk rate last year for Toledo.
Now I don’t mean to imply that Walker’s success will predict success for Seay. Afterall, there wasn’t a whole lot to like about Walker’s numbers and there are probably far more pitchers who had similar numbers and failed than who went on to get $12 million contracts. Plus I cherry-picked the stats I wanted. But I just wanted to point out that Seay has some favorable indicators and could be come a valuable member of the pen.