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Bullpen Bargains: Chris Britton

Taking a quick break from LOOGY's, we have Chris Britton. Britton was drafted in 2001 by the Baltimore Orioles and later traded to the Yankees after the 2006 season for Jaret Wright. In his only season in Baltimore, and really his only big league season, Britton showed a lot of promise especially as a ROOGY(seriously, we need better nicknames for specialists). Overall, he appeared in 52 games and had an impressive 3.54 FIP and tRA* of 4.35. His K/BB rate of 2.41 was solid and his HR/9 of 0.67 was pretty good for a middle reliever. However, during his time as a Yankee he was seldom used at the big league level despite his strong minor league numbers. In 2007, he pitched only 12 innings for the Yankees despite posting a tRA* of  3.67 in Triple-A. Also, his FIP of 2.59 was impressive for the 57.1 innings he pitched.

Last season was more of the same for Britton. He pitched well in the minors(3.02 FIP, 4.04 tRA*), but didn't get much of a chance at the Major League level with only 23 innings of below average work. He did miss 28 games during the summer with a rib cage injury.

One thing I've noticed on Britton is a dip in velocity from '06-08. As a member of the Orioles he was on the high side of 90 mph with a fastball that lived closer to 91. But that fast ball dropped to 88 in 2007 and was barely touching 87 last year (87.3). The good news is he does have a full arsenal of pitches that includes a slider, curveball and a changeup, that all sit in the 77-78 mph range

At 26(today is his birthday) he's still young, but he's losing velocity and has weight concerns. Most places list him as 6'3, 275 lbs. Maybe better conditioning could help him regain something on his fastball. Even with that, when he has been given an extended shot he's proven to be valuable, especially in the right situations. Again, I'll use the term ROOGY for Britton. In 75 MLB appearances against right handed batters he has an excellent .628 OPS against. However, when facing lefties that jumps to .856. Another knock on him for me is he is definitely a fly-ball pitcher with a career FB% of just over 50.

Like all the potential bargains, he isn't perfect, but he is inexpensive. The Rays could sign him for probably 1/5 of the cost of Dan Wheeler and get similar if not better production. Marcels projects him as a 4.31 FIP in 09 and Bill James's projection really like Britton with a projected FIP of 3.86. Either one would be a steal for a NRI.

A face only a mother could love: