The season is over, and it is the time of year for empty rumors. That means reviewing the individual pieces is pretty timely and important. Over the next few weeks, we will cover 30 players who played roles in this magical season.
We begin with Chad Bradford.
The lone player acquired post-June; Bradford's role was simple: get right-handed hitters out and get them out via the ground. Bradford would actually get less groundballs in St. Pete than at any of his previous stops since 2002. Although not to say he still did not get a ton of ant killers, 58.8% of his pitches put into play were of the grounder variety. Bradford's BABIP decreased after the move to St. Pete despite an increased line drive percentage. Not much changed in Bradford's ball%, strike%, or swinging strike%. So why was Bradford's tRA over five with the Rays? Well, walking double what you strikeout has that affect, and as mentioned, more line drives with more walks and more dependence on defense is usually bad.
In sports, like fiction, we usually are attracted to the oddball character. If life were a movie, a filmed one, Bradford would be that oddity. His disdain with the attention over his delivery is well known and displayed in Moneyball. So naturally, his delivery is well known. Every throw is on a rhythm for Bradford, with careful composure Bradford drops low enough to pound the strike zone of Eddie Gaedel. The chorus of his beat, of the knuckle-on-dirt variety, is generally, "Wow, how does he do that?"
In 2009, Bradford will be what he has always been. Unless Bradford throws his back out, age is not going to affect his pitching ability too much. However, there is some slight skill regression to take place. Namely a 93.8% strand rate, which is simply unsustainable. You would also like to see Bradford revert to his 2006/2007 walk rates rather than 2003/2004, and if he wants to strike out 17.86%, like in 2006, then by all means, he has my authority.
Speaking of those walks, 5.1% of the balls thrown were of the intentional variety. It seems odd, but Bradford was usually the person issuing free passes. Would you want the person who throws submarine being the one to lob four wide? Oh, and yes, Bradford really does throw submarine style to first, amusing, I know.