There has been much debate over Oliver Perez at this and other Mets sites. No matter which side you were on, Perez is a Met... again. I'm all about rational thinking, but above all else, I am a Mets fan. So, put on your reading glasses, it's about to get optimistic all up in here.
The arguments against Perez have been laid out all over this site. To simplify here are some of the main points against Perez:
1) His best case scenario (Randy Johnson) is a bad comp.
2) His stuff isn't that impressive (91 MPH FB, only two pitches)
3) His FIP hasn't been impressive the past couple of years, really it has only been good, not great, once.
I supported these stances on Perez, but tonight, I'm drinking Kool Aid.
Meddler discussed possible comps for Ollie besides Lascivious Wily and rolled out several names. The one that I liked best was a former Met, Player A. Meddler stated,
Player A was barely even an average LHP until his age 29 season.
Let's take a look at Player A's career leading up to joining the Mets, (I'm guessing most of you have figured out who he is by now.)
Player A, three years prior to joining Mets, had FIPs of 4.37, 3.97, and 4.21. He accomplished this with a limited pitch selection and high walk rates per 9 of 5.31, 4.97, and 5.41. However, A had solid K per 9s of 7.52, 8.36, and 7.85. (For comparisons sake, in the past three seasons, Ollie has put up FIPs of 5.61 (Mixed time with Pitt and Mets,) 4.35, and 4.68, BB per 9 of 5.43, 4.02, and 4.87 coupled with K rates of 8.15, 8.85, and 8.35.)
Even with his high BB rate, the Mets spent a lot to acquire Player A and he did not disappoint, reducing his walk rate at the age of 32 to 3.31 and, more-or-less, sustaining his lowered BB rate for 5 seasons after. In his age 32 season, he put up a career best 3.15, which was just the beginning of a number of great season for the Mets. So, how'd he do it.
[Player A] was a pitcher who relied on power and emotion, rather than finesse and guile..."When we got him he thought that if you didn't throw well then you should throw harder, try harder," Phillips says... At an age when many pitchers are nearing the end of their career, [Player A] found a way to make his begin... "I was inconsistent because I didn't have a routine to believe in," [Player A] says. So he learned to take his fitness and his preparation more seriously. When he took the mound he learned to focus on each pitch. "I need to have absolute positivity and concentration. Bore a hole with your eyeballs through the catcher's glove. Be relentless," he says. "The distractions, the fans, the manager, the fight with your life or family, the beer man - none of that is there."
The A in Player A is, of course, stands for Al as in the Jersey Grunter, Al Leiter. Al relied on his cutter, curveball combo much in the same way Perez relies on his four seamer, slider combo. As explained by Leiter, the real difference in his results was due to a mental adjustment that simply cannot be measured by statistics in any way or form. Leiter walk rates, major or minor, in no way hint towards great improvement, nor was Leiter's stuff that outstanding. So, no matter how much we dissect numbers and read scouting reports, for pitcher's in particular, (I apologize for how cliché this next line is) there is a human element that we cannot forget. As of today, I am officially an Ollie supporter again and will defend his ability to play this great game of baseball as long as he wears the orange and blue.