Updating the Top 100 - Bronson Arroyo

The ball hurtles towards the batter, a few dozen miles per hour - Dustin Bradford

Fare thee well, Saturn Nuts

93. Bronson Arroyo

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
2006-2013 SP 82 126 95
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 2006 2006
0% 0% 100%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 2006
Gold Glove - 2010
Innings Pitched - 2006
Games Started - 2006, 2008
Shutouts - 2009

-4th in career K/BB rate
-7th in career strikeouts
-17th in career wins
-17th in career innings
-33rd in career WHIP

From time to time I have to remind myself that the reserve clause was the prevailing rule of law through the vast majority of MLB history. With no free agency and with severely limited player salaries, teams were able to keep indefinitely any player that they were lucky enough to have and fortunate enough to like.

With that in mind, how improbable that Bronson Arroyo ranks so highly in career-based stats like wins and innings. For eight seasons in a Reds uniform, while never the most celebrated pitcher in the rotation, Arroyo took the ball every five days without fail. He had one legitimately great season and one legitimately terrible season; everything else was Steady Eddie.

It's difficult to predict which of today's players are tomorrow's coaches but it would seem to me that what makes Arroyo serviceable is what might make him a guy you'd want teaching a pitching staff in the future. Put simply, Arroyo should not be a valuable player in the big leagues. He has a mediocre fastball, doesn't miss many bats, and is prone to the long ball. Arroyo avoids the tailspin by outthinking the batter, mixing velocity, pitch type, and arm angle to keep the opposition off balance just enough to skate by. Also, he nearly never walks anyone, allowing just 35 and 34 bases on balls the last two seasons.

That said, it strikes me as more than a little fortunate that Arroyo's contract expires this year. Arroyo's value has often been greater than the sum of his parts and for a franchise that appears from a distance to overvalue its own players...well, it seems serendipitous that another team will likely make the bet that the magic can continue.

The Reds obtained Arroyo via a trade, you'll recall, for Wily Mo Pena. I remember talking to a co-worker, a Red Sox fan, after I first read the news. I told my friend that the Sox made a good deal, and that they would greatly enjoy Pena through the years. Instead, Pena would hit just 33 more career home runs, and Arroyo would be the rock of the rotation for the better part of a decade. It's good to be wrong sometimes: this is one of the greatest trades in franchise history.

If you want to encapsulate Arroyo's time with the Reds, it's with this: in 2013, despite having the highest ERA of any of the six regular starters and despite his advanced age and despite never (apparently) being under consideration to pitch in Cincinnati's quasi-playoff game against Pittsburgh, Arroyo led the team in Quality Start percentage with 69%. This was not a new occurrence. Nobody looked worse than Arroyo in his bad starts, but no one bounced back better.

In eight seasons with the Reds, Bronson Arroyo made 265 starts and threw 1,690.1 innings, recording 105 wins against 94 losses. He has a 4.05 ERA with the Reds, equating to a 105 ERA+, and struck out 1,115 batters. He debuts on the top 100 list at #93, up from #102 a year ago, supplanting Danny Graves from the list. Arroyo is a free agent, and at press time it is presumed that he will not re-sign with the Reds.

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