Dan Naulty – 1997 UD Collector’s Choice
April 25, 2011
Relief Pitchers = Dime A Dozen
First off, thanks to Cards on Cards for a great plug on the Spring Cleaning. I tell you many of the teams left are “virgin” – so if you are a White Sox, Indians, Royals, Angels, A’s or Pirates collector or know someone who is, plenty of cards available.
I’m surprised that my old Braves, Giants, Tigers and Blue Jays partners haven’t stepped up. HINT! HINT! Swoop in and take ‘em when you can!
The Nats will get you any of my duplicate Expos (since I’m keeping the single non-set specific Expos).
Or, Tony Fiore.
Or, Pat Neshek.
Or, Larry Casian.
Or….you get the point.
Every year, on almost every team, there’s a relief pitcher that has an unexpectedly good year. Usually, it’s a combo of pitching in lower-leverage situations, teams not having a scouting report, a trick pitch or delivery, luck, or ‘one of those baseball things’.
Naulty’s 1996 earned him this card. He had an ERA+ of 135 and 56 K’s in 57 innings. (So he had 35 walks; that ruins the narrative…picky picky…)
His WAR was only 0.9 though.
23 of his 49 appearances were ‘low leverage’.
He had four saves, just five holds and five blown saves and one appearance where he had a save situation but did not qualify for any of the above (usually facing a batter(s) in a save situation without recording an out or blowing the save – this he did.
Naulty also struggled with injuries throughout his career. His 1996 was truncated by an injury. That’s usually par for the course as well – these pitchers tend to have a lot of minor league arm wear and exert themselves when they get to the bigs to ‘prove’ themselves.
Of course, after 1996 the Twins had high hopes for Naulty, but they faded soon. Well, with a bullpen full of the likes of Greg Hansell, Mike Milchin, Erik Bennett, Scott Klingenbeck, and ‘closer’ Dave Stevens, anyone with a pulse and an ERA under 4.00 would be a ‘relief’ as it were.
But next time an unknown relief pitcher has a good ERA, and you wonder “how the heck did that happen”, check into it. It’s probably just a small sample size mirage. And yes, one season can be a small sample size.