Bronson Bouncing Back Vital in 2012

Bronson Arroyo isn’t who you’d consider the most popular Reds pitcher these days. You’re probably disappointed in the astonishing amount of home runs he surrendered last year. Maybe that’s putting it lightly. You’re probably really disappointed that Bronson Arroyo became tied for second all-time in home runs surrendered. He was only four short of matching the infamous Bert Blyleven’s record of 50. He was also the Reds’ third starter in the rotation to start the season.

Maybe you’re furious that he’ll be raking in a cool $23.5 mil by 2013. Not that your anger isn’t unwarranted. Aside from the unfathomable amount of dingers Bronson tossed, he posted a 5.07 ERA, gave up 119 runs and fell just one inning short of his staple 200 innings mark for the season. And while he’s done everything to lose your confidence, I think he’s worth keeping around. In fact, his success is vital to the Reds.

Say what you will about Bronson, but the bulk of his career numbers siginify that last year was, statisitcally, was an aberration. 5.07 is a ridiculously poor ERA. But in 12 seasons of pitching, even including the years spent in the ‘pen, Bronson has only posted an ERA greater than 4.77 three times. In fact, 41% of the seasons Bronson has pitched have resulted in an ERA of 4 or below. Obviously, it’s difficult to consider seasons over a decade ago. But contemporary statistics only do Bronson more justice.

In 2009, he posted a 3.84 ERA. 3.88 in 2010. But even more valuable than Bronson’s ERA is his longevity through a 162 game season. 2011 was the first time Bronson failed to pitch 200 innings since 2004, his first year as a starter with the Red Sox. Arroyo hadn’t won fewer than 15 games since 2007 before amassing only nine last season. On the plus side, the 45 walks he allowed were the fewest he’s ever allowed in a season as a starter.

You can’t look at last year’s performance and consider it indicative of Bronson Arroyo’s ability as a starter. He is, in fact, an extremely serviceable starter who can eat a myriad of innings and keep arms behind the gate fresh. He is an asset to the Cincinnati Reds and, in my opinion, crucial to their success in 2012. If you consider the fact that Bronson won’t be in the 1-3 spots in the rotation, he’ll more than likely be pitching against other 4s and 5s in the rotation. These are games that MLB’s 7th most prolific offense in 2011 has to feast on.

Perhaps last year was due to the early onset of mononucleosis.. Maybe it was the carpal tunnel. These aren’t excuses, they are extremely uncomfortable living conditions, much less Major League pitching considitions. It’s possible that Bronson’s ailments were the cause, because 2011 was simply not consistent with the back of Bronson’s baseball card.

Image: SD Dirk/Flickr

Tags: Bronson Arroyo Cincinnati MLB Pitching Reds Spring Training Starting Rotation

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