Updating the Top 100; Honorable Mention - Francisco Cordero

Lather, rinse, repeat (x 150).

Honorable Mention: Francisco Cordero

There's an unavoidable paradox in the Francisco Cordero story, so let's begin there. Prior to the 2008 season, Cordero signed a 4-year, $46 million contract with the Reds. As one of the largest contracts ever given to a relief pitcher, and as the largest free agent contract ever issued by the Reds, the deal was intended to make a splash, and it was intended to make the Reds a winning team.

The underlying tautology of ‘winning teams have good closers' can perhaps be examined at a later date. For now, I'm more interested in the resulting analyses provided at the news of the CoCo signing, which were nearly unanimous in their thumbs-down verdicts. And the paradox is this: the analysts were right, in that Cordero was never worth the money thrown his way. And the analysts were also wrong, in that Cordero was everything the Reds could hoped for. Again, this probably isn't the space for a full blown analysis, but Cordero's 150 saves and 141 ERA+ were absolutely in line with what he had done prior to the signing. From a performance standpoint, he simply didn't age. On the other hand, Cordero's bWAR (the more favorable of the competing WAR metrics) credit him with 6.2 wins above replacement. At 46 large, that's a hefty cost-per-win figure, especially for a revenue-strapped club, and not a recipe for sustainable success.

And then, briefly, back to the tautology: the Reds did indeed, briefly, become a winning club during Cordero's tenure.

As for the items not related to Cordero's relative worth, he's been an interesting study over the past few years. He has stopped being an overpowering pitcher before our eyes (his K/9 rate has almost been cut in half), without losing effectiveness. His general numbers, including the save counts, have been good, but he has not been among the elite in terms of save percentage; in other words, he's definitely good for a handful or two of meltdowns each year. He wasn't the best, nor was he quite worth what he was paid, but he may prove difficult to replace.

On October 31, Cordero's option for 2012 was turned down, and he became a free agent. His 150 saves rank 2nd in franchise history, and is being ranked #197 on the all-time list. He is also being ranked as the 13th best relief pitcher in franchise history, bumping Rawley Eastwick off the top-15 list.

The Top 15 Relief Pitchers in Reds history

1 John Franco
2 Clay Carroll
3 Danny Graves
4 Pedro Borbon
5 Tom Hume
6 Rob Dibble
7 Ted Power
8 Joe Beggs
9 Jeff Shaw
10 Scott Williamson
11 Norm Charlton
12 Scott Sullivan
13 Francisco Cordero*
14 Jeff Brantley
15 Harry Gumbert
*active

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