Updating the Top 100: Bronson Arroyo

Unnatural - Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Ol' Saturn Nuts just keeps slinging 'em.

The thought hit me in Game 2 of the NLDS. Bronson Arroyo, when pitching well, is my favorite pitcher on the team to watch, save perhaps Aroldis Chapman. Arroyo comes at his craft with such panache, that's it difficult not to appreciate the sheer goofiness of it all, regardless of result. I understand this is a lead-in that is neither precise nor quantifiable, but how else to describe the long hair, and the leg kick, and the infinite arm slots, and the backwards pitching style other than...goofy panache? Continuing the thought, when he's on it's easy to imagine batter after batter trudging back to his dugout cursing Arroyo out, each explaining to his teammates how the pitcher is doing it wrong, man. Which is kind of the point, really. He's not blessed with power or bite, so welcome in finesse and trickery. Frustrating to the opponent, totteringly gleeful to the home crowd. Unless Arroyo's control is not just so. In which case the game becomes so damned predictably ugly. Hence, you know him as Goodroyo and Badroyo. For me, it can be a lot of fun when you always expect Badroyo, and let yourself be hesitantly sucked into the good, one slow curve after another.

With the passage of a full season, we can say now that 2011 was an outlier, not the cliff. Bronson Arroyo bounced back from the worst season of his career with one of his best, again clearing 200 innings and posting his best ERA since 2006. Fueling the gains were a remarkable advance in control, walking just 1.6 batters per nine innings, good for 2nd best in the NL. Combine that with a mild resurgence in strikeout rate, and here we have a viable first-division pitcher. Put another way, if Arroyo is your #3/#4 starter, you're in pretty good shape, pardner.

So, is that it, then? Was it just the mono and/or back problems in 2011, but otherwise this is still Arroyo v1.0? Ever the unanswerable question, this one even more so for a 35 year old pitcher with a career ERA of 2.07 when he wins, 7.72 when he loses, and a nearly equal number in either category.

Thus resigned to taking the good with the bad, on balance I'd have to imagine that we the fanbase are pretty happy with Arroyo, perhaps even considering him a proper value, despite the 8-digit salary. Innings eater, Saturn Nuts, and now playoff winner, thanks to a 7-inning, 1-hit performance that won't be soon forgotten.

In a seven season tenure with the Reds, courtesy of Wily Mo Pena, Bronson Arroyo has a record of 91-82, is just shy of 1,500 innings pitched, has never missed a start, and has an ERA of 4.09 (106 ERA+). Sometime next season, Arroyo will likely become the all-time franchise leader in home runs surrendered. A bit more positively, he is a strong bet to enter the team's top 20 list in wins and innings pitched. Arroyo is under contract for one more season before again becoming free agency eligible, and his 2012 season bumps his placement on the all-time list from #111 to #102.

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