Dan Reichert

Dave · February 3, 2005 at 8:36 am · Filed Under Mariners 

In Derek’s PI column today, he talks quite a bit about Dan Reichert, whose signing has been mostly glossed over as just another arm for spring training. However, if I was going to rank the Mariners offseason moves, the signing of Reichert to a minor league deal and an invite to spring training would rank behind only the Adrian Beltre and Pokey Reese moves in terms of potential return for dollars spent. Reichert is already a better pitcher than Ryan Franklin, and when combined with Safeco Field and the Mariners infield defense, there’s a realistic chance that he could give the Mariners 150 innings of above average performance. For the league minimum.

The 2005 M’s are the perfect environment for Reichert. As Derek states in the PI piece, Reichert is an extreme groundballer. His career 2.5:1 GB/FB ratio would have ranked 5th in the majors last year. He’s not quite Derek Lowe or Brandon Webb in terms of groundballing, but he’s not that far behind. His sinker/slider combination are excellent at producing a huge number of balls being struck on a downward plane. Command always has been a problem for Reichert, similar to Webb and Lowe, which has limited his effectiveness. However, his walk rate last year in Indianapolis was the best of his minor league career, and he appeared to make real gains at throwing strikes while still keeping the ball from being swatted all over the field. Reichert’s performance from 2004, translated to a neutral major league park, was better than that of Ryan Franklin or Jamie Moyer. If he didn’t improve one bit or gain any extra edge from his environment, he’d still be a quality candidate to fill out the end of the rotation.

But here’s the exciting part of having Reichert on the roster; his strengths are complemented perfectly by by the roster the M’s have built and by the way Safeco Field plays. Most of you are familiar with the hits per balls in play philosophy, where most pitchers gravitate to an average of around 30 percent of all balls put in the field of play (not walks, strikeouts, or home runs) going for base hits. However, not all kinds of hits are equal in BABIP; fly balls only go for hits about 27 percent of the time, while groundballs go for hits around 33 percent of the time. Extreme fly ball pitchers often give up lower than average BABIP, while groundballers post higher than normal averages. However, because flyballs go for extra base hits significantly more often than groundballs, the actual value of one or the other mostly cancel each other out.

Unless, like in this case, you’ve built a roster that can turn a far higher than average number of groundballs in play into outs. Adrian Beltre is right there with Scott Rolen as the best defensive third baseman in baseball, both creating outs with the glove at hall of fame levels. If Beltre continues to defend at his established levels, he’s the runaway gold glove winner in the AL until he stops, with due apologies to Eric Chavez. Pokey Reese is the best defensive infielder in the game, period. Richie Sexson is in the top tier of first baseman defensively. It remains to be seen how effective Boone will be, but at worst, we can expect 3/4 of the infield to play terrific defense. How big of an effect will even just an above average performance from the defense have on Reichert? Consider this:

Based on his career performance, assuming his command reverts to prior 2004 levels and he regresses from where he was last year, he will face approximately 4.5 batters per inning. If he tossed 150 innings, he would face 675 batters over the course of the season. He would walk 83 of those, hit 6 batters, strike out 87, and allow 14 home runs, leaving 485 balls in play. Of those balls in play, 344 would be hit on the ground, leaving just 141 fly balls. Now, a league average defense in a league average park (assuming no “luck”) would allow 160 hits, with a breakdown looking something like this:

Singles: 81 percent or 130 singles
Doubles: 16 percent or 25 doubles
Triples: 3 percent or 5 triples

A pitcher who throws 150 innings giving up 130 singles, 25 doubles, 5 triples, 83 walks, 87 strikeouts, 14 home runs, and hitting 6 batters would be expected to post an ERA around 5.22 in a neutral park. Reichert’s career 5.56 ERA is actually worse than we would expect for various reasons, but component ERA has consistently been a better future predictor of performance than actual ERA, so we’ll use 5.22 as the baseline for Reichert’s performance, assuming that his 2004 improvement wasn’t real and that he’d get no benefit from Safeco Field or the Mariners defense.

Now, factoring in the park, Safeco Field reduces doubles by 10 percent and triples by 13 percent, so just by benefit of the park, we could cut 3 extra base hits off that total, just because of the Safeco effect. Doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but every base counts.

Now, the defense. This gets a little trickier, since we don’t have tremendously reliable information that tells us exactly how many extra outs we can expect each player to contribute, so I’m going to eyeball this a little bit, trying to err on the conservative side without erring too heavily. Considering the abilities of the Mariners infield defenders, I’m going to speculate that the M’s will be able to convert an extra three percent of his groundballs into outs that average fielders would not be able to get to. The vast majority of balls that are in the margins between fielders are in the holes, where almost all ground balls will end up as singles, not extra base hits, so I’m going to remove the three percent strictly from his singles total, so we’ll knock 10 hits off of his singles total.

The run value of a single is about .49, meaning that for every two singles you prevent, you save one run. The run value of a double is about .7, so after removing the hits allowed to compensate for defense and park effects, we can say that the environment surrounding Dan Reichert will knock approximately 8 runs off his total if he pitches to his career major league numbers. 8 runs doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but lets translate it to ERA over 150 innings to show the full effect.

Reichert’s career performance + league average defense + league average park: 5.22 ERA
Reichert’s career performance + Mariner 2005 defense + Safeco Field: 4.74 ERA

Remember, this is working completely on the assumption that Dan Reichert will pitch just as poorly as he has in the past major league performances which got him run out of baseball. Just because of the help he’d receive from his teammates and his park, we could shave half a run off his ERA, and all of the sudden, he’s every bit as good as Ryan Franklin.

Now, if the improved command he showed in 2004 is real, well, that opens up a whole new range of possibilities. Rather than walking 83 men, at his 2004 BB/9 rate, he’d only walk 67, shaving another 11 baserunners (approximately 5 of those walks turned into balls in play will become hits) and approximately another 6 runs. Shaving another 6 runs off his total puts his ERA at 4.23. The potential is there for 150 innings with a 4.23 ERA for $300,000? That’s one of the best signings of the offseason.

I really want Dan Reichert to make the team out of spring training. I’d love to see him force his way onto the staff and bump Franklin back to the bullpen. At worst, he’s going to provide about the same level of performance, and the potential is there for him to be significantly better. If Reichert is given a chance to make this club and contribute every 5 days, he could turn out to be the steal of the offseason.


67 Responses to “Dan Reichert”

  1. Evan on February 4th, 2005 9:51 am

    We need Bucky. He’s our Sexson insurance.

  2. eponymous coward on February 4th, 2005 9:51 am

    Who was also once Mariner property, BTW.

    Oh well, at least Reichert will get a shot at cracking the roster. I do agree that he probably has the most upside for the least cost compared to Sele and Nelson.

  3. Hit and Run on February 4th, 2005 9:53 am

    hmmm . . . Reichert = Rett Johnson circa 2003 with less control?

  4. Greg on February 4th, 2005 10:06 am

    #39, remember that Safeco is net neutral for HRs but that is not true of all fields. Safeco will give up a disproportionate number of shots to right field, making left handed power hitters very effective. A left handed pitcher with good splits against left handed power hitters will help reduce HRs for home games. If the same left handed pitcher gives up fly balls to center and left center to all other batters, this will not hurt him as badly as it would in another ballpark.

  5. Scott on February 4th, 2005 10:22 am

    #50, because you can offer a job, but it is still up to that person whether he wants to take the job or not. Give the guy a break for god’s sake.

  6. Joshua Buergel on February 4th, 2005 10:25 am

    could this be verified by comparing it to the performance of GB and FB pitchers, in aggregate,at Safeco?

    I suppose you could do that, but it’s not something I can do easily.

    #39, remember that Safeco is net neutral for HRs but that is not true of all fields.

    Jeff over at Leone for Third posted 2002-2004 park factors, which includes breakouts for LH and RH batters. This is nifty, because all the park factors I had handy didn’t have that information. Check it out here:


  7. ATK1984 on February 4th, 2005 10:39 am

    From the way it looks, Bucky Jacobsen isn’t going to be playing in Seattle come the start of the season, and will be stuck in Tacoma — with the likes of Ryan Christianson, Kit Pellow and Greg Jacobs — as an option at either first base and designated hitter. (Neither Christianson or Pellow will likely catch in Tacoma, for Rene Rivera and Wiki Gonzalez are probably going to be the catching duo there.)
    Furthermore, I am wholly aware of how poor a player Bobby Higginson is; yet, at $11.85 million dollars for one year — which would be roughly what Randy Winn, Scott Spiezio, and Ryan Franklin or Shigetoshi Hasegawa earn combined — he isn’t a bad guy to have around in either left field or at designated hitter (with Raul Ibanez manning the other position).
    Moreover, bringing back John Olerud [for approximately $500,000] wouldn’t be a “nostalgic” move, but rather a intelligent move. Obviously, Olerud isn’t as productive as he once was; still, he has a decent BOB:SO ratio, he hits from the left side of the plate — which is something the M’s are lacking off of the bench — plus, he is an all-around good individual. Besides, it isn’t as if he would be earning $7.7 million.
    Right now, the Mariners’ bench is horrifically weak, with it seemingly looking like this: C Dan Wilson; 1B/DH Scott Spiezio; 2B/SS/3B Willie Bloomquist; RF/CF/LF ???. The strength of the bench would be much improved if Olerud were there, instead of Spiezio.
    The above notwithstanding, it is pretty obvious that Dan Reichert is going to be a middle reliever for the Tacoma Rainiers. Presently, the bullpen looks like this: LOGGY George Sherrill/Matt Thornton; LR Scott Atchison {Aaron Sele}; LR Ron Villone; MR Shigetoshi Hasegawa; MR Julio Mateo; SM J.J. Putz {Jeff Nelson}; CP Eddie Guardado. Now, while that bullpen may appear to be solid, it is nonetheless porous; adding Aaron Sele and Jeff Nelson to the mix out of Spring Training would be a positive, but that would force the M’s to send down Putz, in conjunction with the DFA’ing of Scott Atchison and the trading of either Justin Leone or Greg Dobbs. Trading Hasegawa, though, would allow room for Putz to stay in Seattle, which is where he ought to be; likewise, it would allow room for Atchison to stay in Tacoma (yet, Leone should still be traded, as there is no need for him to be a back-up infielder in Tacoma behind Jose Lopez, Mike Morse, and Greg Dobbs).
    In addition, the Mariners are still in need of a reserve outfielder who can aptly play each position defensively. Seemingly, there is nobody left out on the market who can do that; however, one man does fit the mold—Darren Bragg! Look, while he can’t hit worth a lick — as he fights each season to stay above the Mendoza Line — he nevertheless is a “gritty” guy who does what needs to be done. Of course, many of you will say that Vince Faison, Jamal Strong, Chris Snelling, or Shin-soo Choo would be a better option; yet, they are all young pseudo-prospects who ought not waste their time up in Seattle as a reserve player, but rather play regularly in Tacoma, rotating amongst the four of them at three positions.
    Ultimately, the likelihood of any of this happening is slim, but it is nonetheless the best way to go ’bout it. In regards to Reichert, though, who is ostensibly a good pitcher, you [Reichert’s advocates] must realize that he is just one guy, who can bring only bring so much to the table. A guy like Olerud, too, can do that, thereby placing him as important as Reichert — if not more so, given his past — could be.

  8. Ralph Malph on February 4th, 2005 10:54 am


    Actually, Spiezio was considered a good defensive 1B in Anaheim. He certainly isn’t a great 3B, and he’s not as good as Olerud at 1B, but he wouldn’t hurt you (defensively) coming off the bench.

    It’s also easy to forget that he has played 303 major league games at 2B. I’m not a whiz at defensive statistics but his range factor and fielding percentage at 2B are both above league average. He is probably slower than he was at age 24 and 25 when he played a lot of 2B but I would think he could still back up a little bit there.

    I’m not a fan of Spiezio and I’d be happy if they could dump his contract, but he clearly provides more defensive versatility off the bench than a guy like Olerud.

  9. Ralph Malph on February 4th, 2005 11:15 am


    It’s hard to know where to start, you have so many things wrong in your last post.

    Jamal Strong will be 27 this year. He has spent the past two seasons at Tacoma, batting over .300 each year. He does NOT need to be in Tacoma. If he can help the M’s as a 5th OF he should be up.

    Darren Bragg will be 36 this year. He has not had an AVERAGE offensive season since 1998 (which was the only above average offensive season in his entire career). He would be a ridiculous waste of a roster spot on a rebuilding team.

    We don’t need retreads on this team, we’re building for 2006.

  10. ATK1984 on February 4th, 2005 11:34 am

    With all of his injury problems, Strong hasn’t played a full season in who knows how long. Still, with that notwithstanding, he isn’t a left handed hitter, who can play all three outfield positions—he’s a RIGHTY! Now, while Shin-soo Choo Vince Faison, and Chris Snelling are lefties, neither of them will make the team; Choo is a true prospect (which thusly means he should be playing nearly every day), while neither Faison nor Snelling can play center field.
    As it was, I did not say Darren Bragg was a satisfactory player, much less a talented one. However, as the 25th man, he cannot greatly hurt the team, for he could be a decent late-inning replacement in center field, after Reed gets pinch-hit for by whomever.
    Lastly, you are right…2005 is a wash! Therefore, it doesn’t matter as to what scrubs start off the season, but rather as to what talented guys finish it. By having cheap loser begin the year — while high-ranking prospects light in up in Triple-AAA — it allows the M’s to waive cheap guys (instead of like last year, when McCracken [$1.75 million] and Olerud [$7.7 million] got the ax) come mid-season, which is cost-effective.
    By the end of the season, these guys should be on the big-league club: Felix Hernandez, Travis Blackley, Clint Nageotte, Rafael Soriano, Jose Lopez, Mike Morse, Shin-soo Choo, Bucky Jacobsen. Conversely, these guys should be traded prior to the deadline: Jamie Moyer [with approval], Ryan Franklin, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Dan Wilson, Scott Spiezio, Bret Boone, Willie Bloomquist, Randy Winn and Raul Ibanez. Ultimately, that should be the team’s objective, so that they can prepare for one amazin’ run come ’06!

  11. M.O. on February 4th, 2005 12:21 pm

    Alright y’all, that’s enough of this type of comment. Yes, we are going to be incredible in 2006. But there is no reason to sacrifice 2005 in February. If the pitching holds up in April/May then anything can happen. If it doesn’t hold up, then you have four months to build toward 2006 by bringing up rookies, making deals, etc.

  12. Jim Thomsen on February 4th, 2005 3:39 pm

    John Olerud can’t help a team anymore, for this simple reason: His walk rate will plunge at a rate of decline roughly parallel to his batting average. Once pitchers become less afraid that you’ll get hits off them, they’ll start throwing more strikes at you. And if those strikes jeep getting converted into ground-ball outs, John Olerud need never see a three-ball count again in his life. Of course, pitchers aren’t THAT precise, and Olerud will draw a few walks. But there’s no reason to believe that Olerud, or any hitter who can’t hit well anymore, can continue to be an OBP machine. Pitchers just don’t fear him anymore, and thus have no need to nibble around him. If he can’t get around a good fastball anymore, then they’ll bust him with those all season long. (Assuming he gets a job, which isn’t any kind of certainty.)

    John Olerud was a fine player in his day. But his day is done. Please … let’s get on with our lives.

  13. AK1984 on February 4th, 2005 4:01 pm

    Player A: OPS = .634
    Player B: OPS = .773
    Player C: OPS = .733
    Player D: OPS = .741

    I will give any of y’all credit if you can figure out which of those OPS statistics belong to each of the following: Bobby Higginson, John Olerud, Scott Spiezio and Randy Winn. (Obviously, Spiezio’s is pretty easy to guess; yet, what ’bout the other three? Yeah, that’s what I thought…Higginson and Olerud would, together, be an equal replacement over Spezio and Winn!

  14. Russ on February 4th, 2005 5:23 pm

    Last year that may be true. We are talking this year, another year older, recovering from injury on a team overloaded with first basemen…

    Bucky can’t seem to catch a break getting AB’s now, you want to add another spendy guy into the mix that couldn’t be traded? Sentiment gone awry.

    We’ve tried building a winning team based on feel good politics and fan favorites. Did you see last years W/L numbers? They ain’t pretty.

    We need to go young, speedy and athletic or at least 2 out of 3.

  15. Ralph Malph on February 4th, 2005 5:42 pm

    My grandmother would be an equal replacement for Spiezio. At least when they cut my grandma they wouldn’t have to eat her contract.

    Meaning of course that Olerud would be equal to Spiezio as well. Spiezio is irrelevant.

    Higginson will be 35 this year and is in steep decline. He has been below league average in OPS the last 2 years and isn’t going to get any better — especially if he moves to Safeco. Why in the heck would the M’s want him?

    I’d rather have Randy Winn. He’s 4 years younger and is a better hitter. And he has speed. And he is making one heck of a lot less money.

  16. Lou on February 4th, 2005 10:09 pm

    I’ll keep Franklin. Franklin has a career ERA of 4.1, better than what Reichert can possibly get in Seattle.

    Furthermore, I assure you that if you use the same method for computing component ERA as you did Reichert’s, you will see a difference of about 0.4 in ERA. (league average park, league average defense).

  17. Lou on February 4th, 2005 11:26 pm

    for Franklin this time.